Chapter 1

Gravestones

By NICHOLAS FAVAZA | Published: September 24, 2011

Dalton could see the world through his eyes, his twisted, crossed eyes, as he peered from his bedroom window. Consumed in despair, he sat wallowing in misery, wallowing to a point of contentment, as his grief turned painfully to anger, and his anger drove him obsessively to a point of madness. He watched as the sparrows danced about the tree limb, just outside his small rustic shack, and he cursed the hypocrisy of creation, the joy of spring, the joy of life, for his Joy would live no more. Her life had passed away without the slightest incidental effects upon humanity, but with the gravest consequential effects upon his; for now he was unable to imagine a humane thought, much less continue on with a humane existence.

His torture fueled his passion as he sat wallowing in self-pity, wallowing through the seasons, wallowing through his years as his once dark hair slowly turned from gray to white, and his future withered away, leaving him with no inspiration to go on. But his life had not always been so desperate, so dreary; for there was once life pulsating through his veins, and joy in his life, his loving wife, his joyous Joy. But with Joy's passing, all joy had been lost, and his life had been reduced to the level of utter mortality in which it existed, the utter mortality in which everyone's life exists, the utter mortality of certain death.

It was early on the morning of his fifty-second birthday he sluggishly rose from his slumber and made his way to his perch, seated just beside his window, and he peered out towards the world, the world which seemed to continue revolving around him. How could the world be so oblivious to its true destiny? How could the entire world continue on in its meaningless surge, towards its certain end? Why would it continue? How and why? Lost within his own questioning, he sat dumbfounded as he watched a pair of bluebirds frolic, and he began to think back in time, back in time to his youthful dreams, his long lost, youthful dreams of happiness, wonder, and Joy.

Lost in the haze of his dream, Dalton's gaze began to blur through his tears. He thought of his life's aspirations and the tormenting toll they had taken upon his very nature. For once he was thriving with life, an aspiring artist, determined to grace the world with his works of beauty and elegance. But one by one, his dreams faded, till finally Joy's passing reduced him down to a very fragment of the being he once was. It had been three long years since her passing, three years since the final reason he had to live had been so painfully taken from him. She had been snatched before the autumn of her life, before she could even reach the moderate age of forty, and with her were snatched any of his remaining aspirations as he settled into a life short of mediocrity; a life of no hope, of no Joy.

He slowly rose and made his way out the door and down past the local cemetery, the very cemetery where his wife had been buried just three years earlier, and he stared upon her gravestone, the very gravestone he had painstakingly engraved just days after her untimely death. He paused for a moment to reflect upon the wonder of her life, as he read:

Joy Ann Baxter
Born December 3, 1842
Died November 1, 1882
Rest in Peace My Love

He then continued on down to the small funeral parlor where he was employed and found his way to the rear, near several blank headstones. Removing the notice from his shirt pocket, he read the inscription he was to engrave, and then he retrieved his tools from a nearby chest and began his day's chore.

He measured precise increments for his lettering before using chalk to scribe the inscription. Then he carefully placed his chisel upon the stone and raised his maul. He began carving into the granite, one blow at a time, forever angling his instruments to follow the curvature of his lines until the engraving was complete. He then looked over his work, critiquing his art as he read:

Theodore Allen Bard
Born January 5, 1818
Died October 22, 1885
Forever Rest in Peace

Content with his work, he placed his tools back in the chest and began making his way back towards his home.



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