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The Mausoleum - Jennifer Adele

The Mausoleum - Jennifer Adele

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Published by Jennifer Adele

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Published by: Jennifer Adele on Dec 08, 2012
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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12/29/2013

 
 1
THE MAUSOLEUM  An Experiential Short Story By Jennifer Adele
In loving memory of my dog Hildegarde, who passed from this life with the same  grace and dignity that
 she displayed while living it. I always thought we’d have
more time. Perhaps one day, we will.
 
 2
“You should
 
go see your mother,” her younger
 brother persuaded from what little separation a phone call could provide
. “You haven’t seen her
since the funeral,
and it’s only appropriate you pay your respects.”
 She breathed a heavy sigh into her cell phone and looked at the screen, as if
her brother’s face would be present there with its signature disapproving glare.
 It was a look that accompanied about half of her decisions.
“It isn’t easy to find the time and…”
There is
n’t really a good excuse.
 
“Of all the days in the year, you owe her the courtesy
, the respect, of going
today,” he went on.
 
“This isn’t home. People don’t really do those things here.”
 
“It doesn’t matter. Her grave is here, and she would want us to. I’m planning to go on my lunch break at noon. Want to join me?” he offered. But, she kn
ew that offer was double-sided, double-edged. It hinted at her problem. It highlighted her unusual phobia.
“No
-
no. I’ll go on my own. I’ll need to get a few things together for remembrances,” she said.
 
“But, you’ll go? You promise?” her brother continued to press.
 
“Yes,” she assured, “I’ll go.”
 
“The cemetery closes at sunset, and the mausoleum doors lock at five.”
 
“I know,” she said wearily. “I’ll call you tomorrow.” And with that, she ended
the tedious exchange.
It was all well and good for her brother, this honoring. He’d been closer to
their mother in life and had missed her more
keenly after she’d passed a few months ago. It would’ve been all well and good back home,
 too, before they had moved to a new place in a new country. Celebrating Dia de los Muertos was so very common
and the cemeteries would’ve been fu
ll of the living and well lit up after dark. But, in the city of steel and concrete that was her home now, and in the countryside cemetery where their mother had been buried, it was all too remote, alien, and
frightening. She didn’t like graveyards, and
 tombs were a terror beyond naming. The thought of being alone with the dead was unsettling, to say the very least. But, she knew her brother was right in this. She had to go. She had to go
today. Her mother would’ve expected it of her, and she was certain
 that
if she didn’t 
 go
she’d feel that parental chiding from beyond the veil.
 The rest of the afternoon was spent gathering up trinkets, mementos that her brother had forced on her after their mother had died. They were a mixture of heirlooms and gaudy objects from the apartment their mother had occupied in her later years and last days. They were things that were not her style, and none of the items held particularly fond memories. They belonged with their mother now and would provide the makings of a perfect shrine. Live plants and real floral arrangements were not accepted within the mausoleum walls, and she felt that the custodial staff or groundskeeper certainly
wouldn’t care for a dish of food
 being left either.
They’ 
d probably issue a hefty fine for food left in the building
 , and they’d know
 just where to send the bill.
 
 
 3
Trinkets were all she’d have to bring, that and one small photo of her family
as it had been decades ago
 father, mother, brother, and herself. She and her brother were all that was left now of that family unit. Her brother who had obeyed
and been the dutiful son. She who had been the wild and willful… sometimes spiteful… daughter. But, none of that really mattered now. Those were the issues of
the living, and today was for the dead. It was late in the season, as it always was for Dia de los Muertos, but she felt it more sharply than she ever had before. B
y four o’clock in the afternoon the sun
was already riding low in the sky. It had made its once great arc across the brilliant blue backdrop and was now fighting in fiery reluctance against its burial within the
earth… not that such a thing really happened…
 giving way to the nighttime and the lunar orb which held its sway.
She’d made her way into the large, vacant cemetery an hour before the
phantom groundskeep
er, whom she’d never seen on her previous visit the day of
the funeral, would lock the gates. There were no other cars and from what she could tell, no other visitors so late and so far from the city.
No one else for thousands of miles cares what day it is. I doubt if anyone around here even knows.
 But, her brother knew. It would matter to him. He had taken time out of his workday to make the drive, and she was sure that when she knelt before her
mother’s crypt she’
d see a shrine already there that had been built by her brother. It mattered.
She couldn’t lie to him about going.
And, i
n any case, she couldn’t not go
either. As she drove through the cracked and winding pavement roads of the cemetery, amidst old trees that trembled in the cold, making her way towards the back of the grounds that held the strong border of a wooded tree line, she saw the large mausoleum come into view. White-washed and weathered granite walls that stood as stone sentinels against the onslaught of the outside world; the living, breathing world that would like to tear at the tattered remains held within. It was an old building, historic and majestic. The arched ceilings and the fine architecture that
paid careful attention to detail would’ve pleased their refined, albeit f 
oreign mother.
This is not the architecture of our people. This is not the style of home.
 But, it was beautiful all the same. Parking the car close to the main double doors, she gathered up her bag of memories and stepped out into the late evening. The few lingering leaves that clung to tired tree branches rustled in the foreboding winds that swept up from all directions as she shut her car door. It was as though the old cemetery were in some sort of strange vortex, was involved in some sort of grand swe
ep that she couldn’t even
 begin to understand. An uncontrollable shiver ran through her as she peered out at all the tombstones glistening in the setting sun.
Time flies.
 She was sure many of the folks buried out there never thought long or hard about their inevitable demise, what would be left after their life was all said and done. The big mistake most people made was in thinking they had more time.

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