The Child in the Coffin

Based on a true story.

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2. When am I next?

So I found myself wandering down of the paths between the graves of the vast cemetery. Everything was quiet, calm, morbid, it was another dimension in the middle of the city, that rushed through the morning traffic as usual, every day throughout the year. The few people that entered instantly knew they were in a place that required tremendous respect for the houndreds of dead, who could not care less, and their families, who were either dead or absent. Once I read in a book, that the brain is what you would call a devaluing mechanism; the fancy way of saying time will mend all wounds. As soon as these thoughts passed through, I shook my head, trying to think of something else. I was not supposed to ponder all day, afterall. I was supposed to find her grave. From the moment I woke up that morning, I knew I had to find it. For the first time in five years, I would visit her grave. It's not like it was far away, or even difficult to find the time for. I lived so close, I could barely see the church. In the beginning I got over it relatively quickly. But as I grew older, I kept thinking of how Agnes would have looked up to me, as the young woman I had now become. She was frozen in the body of a child, while I grew up. She was just a few days younger than me, now she could have been my younger sister. In time I could be her mother, even her grandmother.
Strange thing with time.

I stopped for a second to take a look around; as things were now, I would never find the grave before the darkness would creep from the shadows. Already the surroundings started to look pale blue, and soon the daylight would step aside and let the dusk take its place, removing all remaining determination. I let out a sigh as my eyes met the look of an old man standing a few rows away. The chances of recieving useful information from him were slim, but it was my best shot. If I didn't ask him, I might regret it. I gently bit my lip and started fiddling with my hands as I walked towards him - signs of nervousness when speaking to people, I was uncomfortable with, and I figured it would be a little less awkward if I started talking before I reached him.
- Excuse me, I said, only realising in that very moment that I had not planned this at all. I had no idea what to say.

- I'm aware that you probably can't help me, but I'm looking for my friend...

I stopped in the middle of the sentence, as I glanced to my left to avoid too much eye contact, and saw the inscriptions of Agnes' name. There it was, right next to me, and there he was right next to me.
It took me a few trys before I could finally make myself clear.

 

-You knew Agnes? Very clever, I thought to myself.
He looked at me with a peculiar expression; he had not expected that question. He shook his head and denied.

- No. I'm here to see my wife.  She's over there, he said with his finger pointing in the direction he was looking. I was only here to pay my respect for your friend.

I regretted my words the moment they left my mouth. -Why? I felt stupid, childish, and rude, most of all. He didn't seem particularly offended, just surprised to hear my question. He didn't look like the kind of person who usually talked to many people, but the kind of person whose company you enjoy. He considered his reply for a second, just enough time for me to study his appearance. An ordinary man with a beard slightly longer than average, that had once been dark brown. His crown was covered with a woolen beanie, so weather or not he had hair I would never know. His clothes were old, but clean, and he was overall properly dressed for the cold whether. He was wrinkled from frowning and smiling. - Because it is devastating when a child dies.
I had no idea why, but his response bothered me. What had I expected, perhaps something less obvious, something more meaningfull and philosophical. For a brief second I had lost all respect for him, but then I regained my composure and remembered how thoughtful it was of him to visit my friend when I hadn't.
 

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