The Day I Died


   I remember the day I died. There was nothing spectacular about it, nothing that flagged it out from any other day. Just another typical summer day , my dad had been drinking again and I was doing my best to stay out of his way.  I'd been down this path many times, and knew the pattern well. It would start off with verbal abuse, how I was a wicked, evil girl and belonged to Satan. He'd follow me around as I did my chores, drink in hand  and criticize everything I did, while I bit my lower lip and avoided looking at him.  At some point it would turn physical. Once while I was cleaning the toilet he shoved my head down into it screaming, 'You call THAT clean!?"  Or while I was bent over he'd grab me from behind and begin groping me... I never understood these attacks. I would struggle and twist away, which only made him angrier and he'd hit me or try to as I darted for the door.  I knew hiding in my room was useless. The door had been broken long ago, in such an attempt. Now there was just a curtain hanging in the doorway. So now, I would beeline outside, out where people could see. He wouldn't follow, no matter how drunk he was, he didn't want witnesses.  To be honest, I never paused long enough in my flight to know if he followed for a piece or not, I was too intent in putting distance between us.

  This day had proved no different. I cut up between houses, and scrambled up a chain link fence that separated the back yards from the cemetery that ran along the back lots. I dropped down on the other side and dove behind the large guardian angel statue, that stood surveying the plots.  I pressed hard against her coolness, and gathered my breath, listening in the oncoming twilight for any sounds of him. A few dogs still barked where my flight had disturbed them, but they were of no worry to me. Only the sound of crickets, and now and then the distant laugh of a child or a snatch of music reached my ears.  As my pounding heart calmed, I thought of running away for good again.  A fat lot of good that had done me. I was picked up by the cops and returned home.  My father, the consummate liar, had told them I was rebelling against authority and a problem child.  I was too afraid and ashamed to tell them what was going on.  Back then, matters were handled differently I guess. Or maybe things would have been different if I had told, but I had a deep seated fear of telling. The beating I received that night only reinforced it, so I no longer viewed running away as an option. How I wished I had somewhere, someone to run to! But there was no one, only the stone statue, with her serene chiseled smile.

 After awhile, I grew thirsty and felt in my pocket for my baby sitting money - yes, it was still there, so I began to thread my way across the cemetery towards the 7-11 on the other side for a coke and maybe something to eat.  It was full dusk now, and my stomach rumbled, reminding me I hadn't eaten any dinner. I slipped easily among the grave markers. Many were those new flat lying plaques, I didn't even have to pay much attention, my feet knew the path so well. In the dimness, I saw a new grave had been dug, plywood lay over it, the mound of dirt waiting to be pushed back in.

  Unlike many, I didn't find graveyards creepy or scary. It was peaceful. Now and then I heard the sounds of some nocturnal animal shuffling along the shrubbery that attempted to hide the chain-link fence.  It didn't fool anyone, but one day the thin tendrils of ivy that had been planted would cover it.  I heard footsteps ahead , from the sound coming towards me. I slipped into the deeper shadow of a crypt and pressed tight against the wall. I had no fear of ghost or long-legged beasty that might haunt the cemetery, but that two-legged creature called man was an entirely different matter.  Voices reached my ears...two males, teens from the sound. They paused, a bit past where I stood, a flame flickered then twin embers glowed in the dark, and I watched them saunter onwards, totally unaware of my presence.  I waited a moment or two then left the darkness and eased out into the deepening twilight.  The bright neon and florescent lights of the 7-11 were almost garish as I exited the cemetery and cut across to its parking lot.  A few cars were parked and I scanned then to make sure none were my father's - it wouldn't have been the first time he drove 'buzzed' to get more liquor. I sighed, and pulling open the door entered in.  A bored looking clerk of about 25 leaned behind the counter flipping through a magazine, glancing up occasionally.  A couple of boys in their late teens, lingered towards the back. I stepped past and felt their eyes rake over me. "Don't make eye contact," I told myself, as I pulled the cooler door open and pulled out a pop.  I paused by the chips and selected a small bag, before going up front and asking for a hotdog. "Sure thing, pretty girl," the clerk smiled, and lifted one from the ever turning belt in the heated case, placing it in a bun.  I felt myself blush a bit, which seemed to amuse him. As he rang up my purchase, the guys  had come forwards, and now leaned against the counter on either side of me.  I stiffened, again feeling their eyes on me. "You guys want something?" The clerk spoke.

"Yeah, I'd like this pretty girl's number," one of them said. I just stared straight ahead and fished the five out of my jean pocket, handing it to the clerk.

"She's just a kid. Let her be, Frank."  The clerk's tone had gone all no-nonsense.

"Sure thing, Mike. Let's go, Dave." They left the counter, and I heard them exit.

"Better give them a few minutes to leave the lot," the one called Mike said. I nodded. Something about those two had raised the hairs on the back of my neck. 

"Not too nice, are they?" I asked softly.

"Well what do you know? The pretty girl has a pretty voice," Mike smiled at me, and I felt myself turning redder. 

"Do - do you think it's safe now? I mean for me to leave?" This Mike was making me nervous, but in a very pleasant way.

He looked at the monitors behind the counter. "Well, I don't see them... should be OK."

"Thanks," I felt my mouth curve into a smile, as I picked up the small bag holding my dinner.

"Have a good night," he called after my back, and you know, I think he actually meant it.

I was across the lot  and back across the street, nearly to the cemetery, when I heard them. "Hey, it's the pretty girl." One stepped in front of me. "Where you going, pretty girl? " He grabbed my arm. "Don't be like that. We just want to talk is all."

I wrenched my arm free, and the other guy made a grab for me. I knew talk wasn't what they wanted. Why I didn't turn back and run to the convenience store, I don't know. Instead I bolted into the safety of the cemetery.  My feet barely skimming the ground, fueled by fear, I led them in a merry chase around the  plots. I heard oaths, and cried of pains as unsuspecting shins connected with low markers, hidden in the shadows.  I ran like a woman possessed, adrenalin and fear pulsating in my ears like a runaway freight train. They were gaining on me, catcalls and whistles assailed my backside as I urged myself forwards. In front of me loomed a tarp covered pile of dirt - the new grave site.  A plan flew into my panicked brain - if I could just get over that mound before them and pull the cover aside, they would fall into the yawning hole, and I could make good my escape! Up and over the short mound I went, leaping downwards. But, instead of my feet meeting the plywood as I expected  I continued downwards! The distance wasn't great - perhaps 8 or 9 feet from the top of the mound to the grave bottom.  Far enough that pain racked me.  The boys I had seen earlier that night from the shadows, must have moved the covering aside. I tried to stand, but I couldn't.  I clawed at the sides, trying to pull myself up. I heard voices above me and I looked upwards... Funny, now it was as if I was watching some movie. From above I saw the two boys  circle around the mound, evidently thinking to surround me.  I saw myself, laying at the bottom, my leg twisted at an unnatural angle, my head queerly tilted to the side.  I seemed very still.

 The boys were looking about, swearing as they moved off. I was safe from them now. I waited to see myself move. To either attempt to climb out again, or wait for  help... but I didn't move, and I didn't move... realization came to me. I was dead. Plain and simple.  A light beckoned me. It wasn't bright , like the light near deaths describe, but a soft welcoming glow. In a minute, I thought. First I want to teach a few lessons, first those two wicked boys, and then my father. Then, then I would enter that glow.


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