"As cherry blossoms fall
At the height of glory
So, too, must I fall..."
I spoke the words out loud, the inscription brought to life by my voice. The graveyard, the wet stone, the wet ground littered in October leaves lent to the heaviness in my chest. Here I was breathing and I could see my breath in that damp chill. Another cloud to mix with the mist that mixed with the dark, hanging skies. My eyes welled. The boy was nineteen when he died.
"He killed himself." A voice said behind me. I startled. I hadn't heard the young man approach, awashed as I was in my own thoughts. I rubbed my face with my hands as if I was cold. A poor attempt at privacy, I'm sure my eyes were red-rimmed. There'd be no hiding that I'd cried.
But the youth before me kept talking. His gaze centered on the marker, hands in jean pockets, face impassive. "That quote was in his kiss-off. It was written by some Japanese kamikaze. He was really into that stuff. Samurais and swords…I can't believe his mother actually used it as an epitaph."
Now the teen looked at me, searching my face as if because I was middle aged and a woman I'd know the secrets of that mother's heart. I didn't. The most I could do was hurt with him and listen.
He was pretty in a dusky way, dark blonde hair, deep brown eyes, farmer's red skin. He'd kept his body to the sun and wind, out there daily. There was that capability to his stance, to his steady speech. Life was hard and you live it. But maybe I was seeing what I wanted to see. I met his gaze and said nothing. He knew the deceased. I did not. I was simply a haunt of the graveyards.
He sighed. "It was nice of her." He finally decided. "It was shitty of him."
I gave a small, miserable smile and nodded. "You must have been a good friend." I said.
"No." He sighed, "No if I was—"He sighed again, stopped himself, ground his teeth. "No."
Gapping silence followed.
"Listen," I said, "I know little of life, but I do know that some people are very good at hiding their pain. Blame is useless."
I shattered the boy. His chiseled face crumbled and he cried. Wet stone.
I breathed clouds into the mist that mixed with the dark, pregnant skies and then I too disappeared.
For I am little more than air.
Little more than a memory.
And those that would have remembered have long forgotten for their bones too are dirt.
The boy will say that he met the ghost of Our Lady of Sorrows. I hope he cries less because of it.
Author's note: Epitaph is a part of a larger poem by Lieutenant Naoji Iwasa, taken from the book "Advance Force Pearl Harbor" by Burl Burlingame.