Bobby’s Graveyard

We stood at the gates, hands curled around the flaking bars, faces pressed to the rails, peering through. A long strip of grass, running down to the wall at the far end. Flanking it on either side, two rows of tombs, the walls built up with great stone blocks. Iron-guarded. We wondered why this one place was locked and bolted. The graves were old, but the padlock was new. I lifted it idly, finding it heavy, and cold to the touch.

The weather was pleasant – a lull of sunshine in between temperamental bouts of rain. We had passed several parties, the guides pouring forth their facts in English, Spanish, the tourists listening rapt, or with their attention wandering. But this part of the graveyard was still. Maybe there was nothing of note here, or perhaps the tours would pass by later. The noise of cars from outside the walls was muffled and sounded far away. It felt as though no-one else existed. Like the graveyard and the city had emptied.

A wind rose, a cold wind, all of a sudden. The walls channelled the air, funnelling the gust towards us, around us. The wind had leapt up from inside the tombs and was rushing out, like some portal had opened into another dimension, and its cold, dry air was being sucked out by the light and sunshine of our own world. Sliced into strips by the iron bars, the wind swept around us, whispering in our ears, rustling our hair, then dying away. A tangible ethereality. For a brief moment, I felt we had been removed from time.



You’ve got to keep up. Like, know what’s happening. So that when things change, you’re not caught out. That’s the worst thing. It reminds me in an abstract way of being a monkey, hanging with the other monkeys, being free and easy. I’m acting the fool and then suddenly I’m out of the canopy, in the howling grassland, glimpsed in the starlight by whatever monsters are there. And terror just rushes down on me. It’s like, if I take my mind off my surroundings for a second, if I drift out of the conversation, I’m totally naked, out in the open and prone. It’s a real fear.

Like…what if I can’t keep up with everything. Like, I’m too tired or something. Worried about something else. And all that intricate stuff that I’m keeping on top of, that’s gonna just become a blur, or a wall, like static on a screen. Like all the lines of focus that I weave through my mind are all just going to lead to a dead end, screens just showing static.

I don’t know. I guess I’m just…worried. About losing touch, or something. It feels like…fighting sleep. I’m afraid of dying, pretty much, I guess. But I don’t know if that fear is helping me stay alive, or it’s adding to the…confusion…but. What can I do.


Is this what failure is? Poor little doll-faced Lizzy, she didn’t win the prize! Working on the story for ages, every morning that laptop on top of her lap, eyes squinted, fingers trembling, ‘with passion’, she would say fervently, raising a hand, ‘they are trembling with passion!’; so she would say to Karen, not just anyone: to anyone she was reticent, barely mentioned that story being tip-clip-top-typed away each morning as the sun’s wispy strands of hair would stream through the window and drape gently over her back; though she thought (she knew!) she would win, yet she didn’t mention it, not to anyone but Karen, to whom she would show evidence of her strained nerves and claim, ‘passion!’ But Liz didn’t win, saw the results this morning with a drained pale face then flushed pink one and got up and went to her room; just a contest in the end—but is it failure as well? Is that it then, is that it done? (‘it’ being the attempt, the head-butting, glory-driven, passion-pushed, adrenaline-accompanied attempt of distinguishing oneself permanently and forevermore in the eyes of the world; as quick as possible!; for then the move towards death can continue with ease).

Elizabeth Shoemaker had failed at her writing. No, just at this one story, her mother would say, pushing her hands into Elizabeth’s back, massaging her into silence; and, what a word, ‘failed’! You haven’t failed at anything! You simply…haven’t been successful. Which is failure, one, or Elizabeth in this case, could point out, but didn’t, because her mother clearly thought she had struck on something rather profound, this apparent difference between ‘failing’ and ‘not being successful’, this grey area where one is nothing at all; one is merely seated on children’s plastic chairs, watching parents scurry about with warm words and cups of tea, surrounded by grey walls plastered with cheery posters that read ‘Everyone’s a winner’. A dreadful place to be!—and yet, Elizabeth knew, she was not even there; for she had failed. She had shut her eyes, refused to read the posters, and fallen through the ground into a dim dank hole where most of humanity crouched, pathetically, nibbling at the remains tossed by those on high.
Oh no, this sounded far too dramatic!