Where am I? Why can't I see anything? What… my eyes aren't open, that would explain why I can't see anything, but why won't they open? For that matter, nothing seems to be responding…wait, my mind is beginning to clear a little, I think I am cognizant enough to open my eyes, though I don't know if I really want to see what is out there. I can see a little light now, that's a hell of a lot better than it was, at least now I might be able to figure out where I am. But, why is this light bringing so much pain? My head hasn't hurt this bad since I crashed my bike into that pole when I was five. And my hip feels like something just smashed it to pieces but didn't bother to take them with it. Could that mean…I am old enough that this could happen, but I had never thought…did I seriously just fall into the cliché of falling down and not being able to get up? That would explain the hip pain and maybe why my mind is so hazed, but, no there has to be something else. Why has my memory gone blank, hopefully only for a little while, and why is it taking so much effort for me to figure out where I am? My head is in about as much pain as my hip, could it be that I broke my skull? Maybe I knocked myself out and am only now regaining consciousness after who knows how long…
Oh, right, my eyes are open for a reason. Come on James, pull yourself together, you are not going to get anywhere if you let yourself get distracted this easily. It's dark out, and there are trees everywhere, it must be evening and soon to be nightfall. And the trees, they are so thick I would think that they have to be part of a forest or some woods…the woods that separate the park from the cemetery. If I am there then that means, oh god yes, that's right, I went to visit Mary again. The mound had already sunk and the grass had covered it up, if it weren't for the stone you wouldn't know there was a grave there at all. Nature and Time may have moved on, but god knows I haven't been able to yet. How am I supposed to get over her? We were married for over fifty years, I had begun to think that we had become the same person, so when my heart finally gave out hers would as well and we would go out together. But no, Death is not as polite as Ms. Dickinson said, he took Mary…she was going to beat the cancer, but no, Death got impatient and took her alone. The poor girl, she hated being alone more than anything else. I had always thought that maybe if we had a child she would not be lonely when I was at work, but she would always remind me that with my family's history of heart defects and the fact I had a heart attack when I was 21 and her family's history of cancer, any child born to us would be destined to die young, and we couldn't do that to another living soul. Then of course there was the fact that we were always travelling and living life at full speed, and we just would have been horrible parents, and we were enjoying life too much to have or adopt one, let other people who want to shape their lives around a kid be in charge of populating the Earth, we were doing fine with just the two of us.
Damn it, there I go wandering off again. I can't think about her right now, I need to figure out a way to get help. Of course if Mary were here, she would have made me take the cell phone before going out, so then I could just call her, I mean 911, and everything would be just fine, but of course I couldn't do something logical like that, I was always the arrogant one that needed no one's help, while she was the logical one that knew when to surrender. Damn we were good together; we always were such a good team. Alright Mary, what would you do in this situation? Well, first I need to find the path; at least I fell down practically on it. Now which direction do I need to go on it? I would say go in the direction I fell, and that should be towards the park, but it is so likely that I got turned around in the fall, I could be facing back towards the cemetery. Of course this is all well and good, but who says I can even stand. Seventy-eight ain't exactly the new twenty, and with a broken hip I am about as mobile as a mummy in its tomb. And what about my head? I need to check and make sure what little is left of my brains hasn't been spilling out on the ground. I think I can move my hand up there, there it goes, I'm not exactly sure where I hit, but if I can figure out where the pain is radiating from, that should be where I am actually hurt. Oh shit, my hand just got drenched between my head and the ground. I don't even have to look to know that this has got to be blood. But still, yep, yes it is all blood. Heads bleed profusely, so hopefully that is all it is. Though I do feel pretty tired, it is probably from my head, I'll rest my eyes for a moment then head out.
Alright, I actually need to get going now. I don't know how long I slept, but it is dark now, and I am still in the middle of the woods. I should check to see if my head has stopped bleeding, no, if it hadn't I would have died of blood-loss by now. I'm alright at least in terms of that, though I won't be in too good of shape until I can get back to civilization and find my way to a hospital. I wonder if anyone has noticed that I'm missing? I have some friends back in town, but then again I don't keep regular contact with them, so who knows if they would have thought to send someone out. Well, if they have sent people to look, I would be helping them by being somewhere public where there aren't a lot of things to hide me. I don't know if I can stand, but I had better be able to get out of here.
Well, I've managed to get to a crawling position, and I feel sick from the pain, but I can't afford to let that get to me now, I've got to get out of here. I could attempt to crawl out of here, but that would take so long, and with all of the sticks and stones around here, I would end up ruining my hands and knees, no, it is better if I save crawling as my last attempt to get out of here. It's been so long since I've had to get up from a position like this, I don't know if I even know what I need to do anymore, but I think if I can get it so that I am just on my knees…and I can vault onto my knees…now all I need to do is get from my knees to standing…I should be able to kneel instead, and I guess from there vault up, so long as I'm pulling myself up with the good hip…god that hurts…can I even…now I'm standing but for how long, oh dear lord no wonder they say falling is the worst thing, I swear when I get out of this I am going to stay in bed for at least a week and let this damn thing rest. No, James, keep focused; you won't get that week of rest if you don't get out of here. Alright, straight forward it is. I can just drag my leg along, shouldn't be the hardest thing in the world.
I stand corrected, or rather, I lay sprawled-out-on-the-ground-temporarily-paralyzed-with-pain-and-some-growing-pangs-of-hunger corrected. I don't know how long I was walking, and I even tried crawling, but it still seems I'm nowhere near the edge of these woods, and I had to have been progressing for at least half an hour. I hate to admit it, but I think I may have to take a rest here and gather up some strength before I attempt to get out of here again. I do hope that someone has started looking for me, I could use all of the help I can get. But then again, why would anyone be looking? It is not as if Mary and I had regular visitors, or even we really talked to much. It was always just her and I, the two of us were made for each other, and no one else would fit the mould. Funny how you don't notice things until you need them. While she was still alive, I knew I didn't need anyone else in my life, but now that she is gone, I know I needed someone there so that I wouldn't be quite so alone, but I never did find anyone to even be a close friend. Now when I could use someone to care about me and maybe start looking for me, I know the only person who cares enough is back in that cemetery six foot deep.
Well, I said that I would need to rest, so at least for a little while, I will let my mind wander and think about how things used to be, when she and I were a young couple. Hell, the 'good times' were all the times that we were together. We met in a record store, she was a regular customer, and I worked there. I would watch the other guys trying to flirt with her, showing off their strength and their cars and other things that I could tell she did not care about. I was the one that could get to her, I would give her album recommendations, and if there was one that I knew she would particularly like, I would hide it behind the counter until the next time she came in. When we were still dating, I took her out to see Buddy Holly and the Crickets, that was the best date of them all, the music was amazing, and there I was, with the most beautiful and intelligent girl I had ever seen. To make it even more exciting, it was during his song "True Love Ways" that I proposed to her, and so it became our song. We were married about four months later. Everyone said that we were going at this too fast, but we didn't care, we had our whole lives ahead of us, and we wanted to spend them together. Funny how some of the people who said we were going too fast so we wouldn't know if we were entirely compatable, some of them have been divorced several times already. Mary, I miss you, I miss everything about you, but at least we can be together again in my dreams…
God my stomach hurts, why am I so hungry? I guess maybe because it has been almost a day since I've eaten, or has it been longer? I don't know anymore. All I know is that I have to keep walking so I can get out of this damn forest. Things will only get harder the longer I wait around, so I might as well push myself today and hope that I can get out of here, and not have to spend another night in the cold. At least I know how to get up now to not hurt myself so much, but it is still pretty hard, I would say the cold and dew are not helping my joints much at all. I'm not tired anymore, but there is still a hint of weariness in these bones that I just can't seem to shake. Oh well, I am up now and I need to get moving lest I fall back down and die here.
I'm making decent pace, considering, but my energy is running out fast, and I could stand a meal or two in me, and of course being able to walk proper with a healed hip would just be the cherry on top, but there is no reason I should think that is going to happen anytime soon. The sun is pretty low, and my body is telling me that I have been walking for quite a long time, though I don't know how much progress I have made. Maybe I ought to stop for the night, and hopefully find some mushrooms or something that I can eat and gain back a little strength. Then again, I don't entirely know what is poisonous and what isn't so I might have to stick with berries…in the early summer, fat chance of that. Still, I need to look, I haven't had to go hungry like this since the early days of our marriage, when we were flat broke and just fighting together to survive. And of course it was her who got us through that and into our more comfortable life.
Damn, nothing that I know is safe. If I can't get energy from food, I will just have to replenish it through sleep, though that does mean having to get back down on the ground. Still, I did it before, so I can do it again, and going down is so much easier than up, at least the ground will catch me and that is my destination. There we go, safely upon the ground, and damn am I tired. It shouldn't be too hard to fall asleep though, shit, my hip is inflamed which of course makes it hurt more as if I needed that to happen, and my stomach, I think I would even eat my own attempt at gourmet cooking at this point. I have to get to sleep, if I don't I won't be able to recover my strength and if I can't recover my strength then I can't move from here and if I can't move from here then I die, it is as simple as that. Mary, I know I always asked too much of you, but please help me, I don't care if I die here, but I don't want to die suffering and alone. I will take the suffering if that is what it is to be, I won't be alone, that is if you can forgive me. I know I should be stronger and just get myself to safety, or I should have been braver and drawn my final breath in that hospital right beside you, but I couldn't, I don't know why, but I couldn't. Maybe I thought that by living I would be keeping you in the world longer, cause you know that we pretty much became the same person, and you are so much a part of me that I don't even know what I was before I had you in my life. If I lived, then I could remind people of how great of a person you have always been, but I'm not cut out for that type of work. Instead I just ran away from the world and kept myself cloistered in our old haunts, attempting to keep my life sane. If either of us was going to outlive the other, it should have been you. I know you would have missed me, but you would have been able to move on at least enough to be able to function again, I know you could have. And I know I didn't do anything particularly exciting and I wasn't the best person in the world despite what you said to the contrary, but if I ever said anything worth noting, you would have remembered it and would have spread it like it was the meaning of life. I never realized how broken I was, because you were the glue that held me together, you made me a better man and made me feel like I was truly worth something. I know it is a small accomplishment, but I think you realized before I did that it always gave me such an ego boost when you pointed out a spider that was scaring you, and I would grab it up in my bare hands and throw it outside. I eventually learned that you weren't really that scared, and when you would hold me tight in your arms and thank me for getting that terrifying spider away from you, you were only doing that to make me feel better, and damn did it work. Even when you were dying in that hospital, you would still get me to chase out the spiders, and you would always applaud my work around the house. Hell, you would even eat the food I fixed that was more complicated than sandwiches, not only did you eat it, but you would compliment it, though saying that a touch of this or that would make it even better. I swear, I think the only time you ever truly asked something of me was just before you died, when you asked me to stay with you, to hold your hand. That was all you asked for, but I did more, I had to do more, I knew it was the last time I would be with you. I wanted to convey how important you are to me, but that is impossible, you are everything to me, and you will never be anything less than that. Please, please stay the night with me, hold me like you used to after the spiders were gone, stroke my hair and kiss my forehead like you would always do when I was sick, and maybe, would you sing to me like you would when I lay awake at night worrying about something…
I can't sleep any longer, I've got to get out of here. Apparently either no one knows I'm missing, no one has thought to look for me, or for some idiotic reason no one considers this to be a good place to look. If I can get out to civilization, then hopefully someone will find me, though it would seem that my existence is rather forgetable. Come on body, pull yourself up, hopefully this will be the last day of walking, I know I could use the break, and for once I think I am looking forward to the hospital stay. I'm up, it seems that was easier than usual, which I will take as a good sign because I could use a little optimism these days. Before I forget, thank-you Mary, I wouldn't have gotten any sleep if you hadn't been there comforting me. I promise, when I get back and a little better, I'll spend the entire day with you, hell, throw in the night too. We will have a grand time, just you and me like it always was and always will be. Mind if I keep talking with you? I know this is supposed to be your eternal rest and all, but I have tried to be quiet and let you rest, but I miss you so much, and right now I could use a little company. You really are making this easier on me, I'm still in pain and all, but it is tolerable, and this path doesn't seem gloomy but rather cool and shady and the park isn't just the place I'm desperately trying to reach, it is a lovely resort or something like that. Now I'm not going to start skipping over there, you know I would only do that when I was teasing you, but I can get there a little more gleefully now.
Well, it is late afternoon, but the light is a lot more intense now, I think I'm quite literally almost out of the woods now. Granted I was aiming for the park, but I might just be heading towards the cemetery, either way, living people come by, and maybe one of them will spot me. If the dead care to help out, I am entirely fine with that, though I sincerely hope the kids these days aren't right in saying there are zombies out there. Granted, the only benefit to eating me is that I could not outrun them, other than that, I don't think my brains would be that tasty of a meal. And there I go again, getting distracted by about anything, no wonder it has been taking me so long, I couldn't keep one line of thought even if I were a vegetable. I need to keep travelling towards the light, though in this case that would mean out of the forest, though death really isn't that scary anymore.
There it is, the light, I am finally out of the damn woods. Well, it's the light at the end of the tunnel, it's actually pretty dark out here now, it must have taken me a lot longer to get out of there than I thought. I can still see in the darkness alright, even if the eye doctor said that I would be needing glasses, looks like a fence up ahead, a few small buildings, and a ton of rectangles. Unless the park switched to art nouveau while I was gone, I would say that I have ended up in the cemetery. It would be locked at the moment, but that fence isn't particularly high, I might be able to climb over it.
Or I could just sort of fall over it, do I have to be a klutz now of all times? I'm sorry leg, I landed on you trying to protect the hip I had broken, but it would seem that I have roughed you up a bit too. Would you mind being sympathetic, and not being broken, I already have enough mobility problems as it is, I really don't want anything to add to it. Let me see if I can sit up and check on it…well, it doesn't feel broken, but it is still injured and does not want any pressure on it. I guess I need to find a place to sleep for the night, and maybe in the morning it will be more cooperative. I can't believe I'm going to ask this, but Mary, you are close by, do you mind letting me sleep by you once more? You've got a lovely tree over your grave that should protect us from the dew, and maybe a few bugs, and well, cemeteries are melancholy at night, but being with you makes me happier than anything else. I know we won't be able to hold each other in real life, but by being near you maybe it will feel like we are together again. There, that is our tombstone, I recognize it even though I can't really see it. When I die, they're exhuming you and putting my body in the coffin as well, I figured you would approve. Alright my love, I will talk with you in the morning, but right now, this old man needs to get some rest.
Feels so good having the sun on me, but I still can't ignore my situation. My hip is still in bad shape, and I don't know what exactly is wrong with the other leg, but it is swollen pretty bad and doesn't seem to want to move, and of course I feel like my stomach is being sucked into a vacuum, anything else? At least my head healed up, whatever was wrong with it, but with my legs the way they are, I don't think I can walk anymore, and I probably can't crawl, and dragging myself would take more strength than I have. Looks like I'm going to be staying with you longer honey, but that's alright, we never needed anyone else around when it was just the two of us, though I would appreciate it if there was someone that would find me now.
Well, I guess I should find something to do to entertain myself until someone notices there is a living being among this resort of the dead. Is it really a resort for the dead, or is this simply a landfill for lumps of carbon and calcium and other elements that collected themselves into a body? You know, I visit you all of the time, but I know you aren't here, well not you, only your body. Now I'm not going to get into that whole argument of where spirits go when they die, or if there really is such a thing as a soul, but there is something so distinctly different between the living and the dead. While alive, you were always Mary, the woman I love, even when you were on your deathbed, you were still definitely her, even though there was not much left in you. But when you died, there was only a body left that looked like you. A cooling, rigid body that had once been the visual embodiment of the spirit of the person who was more important to me than anything or anyone else ever. Even now, I know that you are not under the ground right beside me, that is only a rotting shell, hence there is no reason for me to say my words aloud. I don't know where all you are exactly, but I know you live in my mind and my heart and I think you are my soul, so I only need to get the words there so that you can hear them. Not like I even need to do that, you always knew me so well, by the end, you knew what I was going to say even before I said it. You already know that I love you dearly, and that I would wish I had been first, except that would mean that you would be the one left here weeping and I could never do that to you.
Do you think if we had had a child, we wouldn't have been so attached to each other? There would have been someone else to give our love to, though of course we would get some back, but it would still be a decent division. There would have been someone else around to take care of you, someone more able-bodied than myself, and there would be someone for me to commiserate with now. No, I would get much too over-protective. I would see the child as a part of you that still survived in the flesh, and so I would make sure that nothing could ever harm it, and I would keep it in a cage and clip its wings so that I could always have that piece near me. No, me being the only person with you then, and now me alone, that is the way that things have to be, that is who we were.
The sun is getting pretty high in the sky, and it is terribly warm out here. I guess it is one of those summer days that just burn the skin right off of your bones. The tree is keeping the sun off a little for now, but I don't know for how long that will last, then the sun will be on me entirely, and I will end up like the worms that crawl across the sidewalk during the rain only to be stranded when the sun comes out again. That would be a funny sight, wouldn't it? A modern mummy curled up beside the grave of his loved one, it would be kind of like those skeletons they found, holding tight to each other even in death. Well, they were buried together, but we will be that way soon enough. I'm no optimist, nor am I a pessimist, but I know that I don't have that much longer to live, this faltering heart has been managing to keep a beat for fifty-seven years now, but I can feel it falling behind every now and again, and honestly, there is no real point in me being alive without you. Still, this is not exactly how I want to die, but I will neither fight nor surrender to it, I will just go with whatever fate I am given. Now, seeing as I cannot really do anything, I might as well get some rest while the sun is blazing, might be able to keep a little cooler that way. Well Mary, let us proceed to dreams, then we can see each other once again, in the bodies we possesed as youths, more importantly, the wanderlust and naïve curiosity we had in everything. Let us take those trips we never got around to, we can go to the moon so that we can catch a glimpse of every country upon Earth, and watch the stars glisten all about us every second of the day.
Wow, I never realized how beautiful the graves look when the light of a near-full moon hits them. But why do I feel a thousand times worse now than when I went to sleep? I guess it could be that I was asleep for a few days or something, I can't even move now, I'm just so weak right now. Mary, I think it is time that you and I continued our travels. No baggage, and no reservations, we are just going to get up and walk and never stop. Who knows what lands we shall see, or how long we shall walk, but we will keep going until we are too tired, then we will rest long enough to regain our strength, and walk some more, forever, just the two of us together forever. I understand you now, you knew that I was dead, but my body refused to believe it, so you let me continue for a while until I was somewhat ready to die. I know you are not the one that made me fall, no that was my own fault, but you called me back to the cemetary, so that we could be together in the end, just like we had always thought we would be. Thank-you Mary, thank-you for being the best wife a man could ever have, both in life and death, thank-you for comforting me in these last few days especially, now, if you give me a moment, I will be there to take your hand and off we can go. A new adventure, I haven't been this happy in years.
"DNA tests say that the corpse is James Life, widower to the lady buried where he was found, aged 78" said the officer. "We haven't done an official autopsy yet, but initial tests say he had been there for at least three weeks, maybe even a little longer than that."
"Have his children been notified?" asked the Sergeant as he leaned back in his chair. The chair groaned under the burden, but it had been with the same human now for six years, so it was used to the weight. Though each home-cooked meal made the chair's job a little harder.
"He had no children sir, in fact, it was hard to find any relatives."
The Sergeant leaned forward in his struggling chair, "no children? No wonder he was there unnoticed for so long. Though didn't he have any friends?"
"None particularly, from what we have gathered, he and his wife kept to themselves most of the time. I don't know what was wrong with them, but it seems like they never made an effort to know people other than each other," the officer shook his head and smiled.
"Ah well, the crazy old loon is finally dead with her."
"I guess this is case closed then, sir?"
"Well, with no kids questioning, who cares? I hear his will said for him to be put in the coffin with her. Might as well get a team to take care of that, bury them back, then get on with things. Case closed for…for…whatever the hell his name was. In pace requiescat. Oh, and Officer Smith, just go ahead and scrap the file, it was a waste of our time anyway."
"Yes sir, Sergeant Jones," he saluted then left, dropping the file into the trash can as he walked down the hall, thinking about whether or not he would be able to get to the field in time to see his son's baseball game.