Grave Dirt by Paul Beckman

“Your breath smells like the dog’s.”

“Yours smells like his ass when he farts so bad Grandpa sends him down to the basement.”

“Shah, they’ll hear us.”

“Think they’re going to let us go?”

“Don’t turn my way when you talk. Talk into your hands.”

“Well I’m going. Look at the big pot on the stove. The tongue keeps bouncing up and down with the water boiling.”

“I’m going to get some of that tomorrow.”

“Get off the hatchway door before it breaks.”

“I told you Momma was going to catch us. You don’t know how to whisper.”

“Boys, take a pot and walk around the yard and fill it with raspberries and currents.”

“How about grapes?”

“Stay away from the grapes or Grandpa will put you in the basement with Bernie. That’s for his wine.”

“Okay, Momma. We talked it over and we want to go tomorrow.”

“I’m not sure.”

“Why? We’re old enough.”

“You’re four and your brother’s five. Five is old enough.”

***

“Aunt Sofie and Uncle Sid just pulled up. They’re carrying some plates.”

“Filled with cookies, I bet. I’m going to get me a couple.”

“Dump your fruit in my pot and I’ll bring it in and try to steal a couple.”

 ***

“Get dressed and don’t get dirty or they won’t let you into the funeral parlor. Why are you crying, Mark?”

“I was lying in Grandma’s bed and when I closed my eyes I felt like she was there to comfort me.”

“That’s a nice thought but Grandma’s funeral is in two hours and that’ll be your last chance to say goodbye to her unless you go to the cemetery.

***

 “Take a seat and don’t fidget. You can go say goodbye to Grandma. She’s lying in that box.”

“Will she know we said goodbye?”

“You dummy. She’s dead. Dead people can’t hear.”

“Be nice to your brother.”

“It’s hard. He’s really stupid.”

“He’s younger than you. When you were his age you were stupid too. Now go up to the casket and each of you stay on different sides.”

“Grandma sure does look real. Doesn’t she?”

“Grandma is real. Really dead. The right way to do things is to put your hands on the casket and close your eyes and think about the good times you had with Grandma.”

“We never had good times with Grandma. She was always cooking and cleaning.”

“Well then think about her strudel. You loved her strudel.”

“Shh. They’re starting.”

“Lots of people crying. Now you’re crying. What a baby.”

“My Grandma’s dead and in that box so I can cry.”

 ***

I’ve never been in a cemetery before. Have you?”

“Plenty of times.”

“Liar.”

“You’re just too young to remember. Look, Aunt Lois. Let’s go stand next to her and she’ll probably give us a hard candy.”

“Will we have to kiss her?”

“Not for one candy.”

“Don’t step on a grave. It’s a sin if you do.”

“I’m thinking about the tongue and brisket.”

“Not the cookies?”

“The cookies too. And I saw a big cheesecake.”

“I love cheesecake.”

***

 “Why do we have to wash our hands before we go into the house?”

“You hold your hands over the pan and I’ll pour some water on top and then you do it to me.”

“Why?”

“So we don’t bring grave dirt into the house. That would be a sin.”

 ***

I have a plate of tongue and brisket sandwich. Momma says we should share.”

“Well, I’m not going to share the fork.”

“Go get another one and try to grab some cookies.”

“I thought you got them.”

“I did for later.

“Wanna go outside and eat?”

“I want to sit on Grandma’s bed and eat.”

“Me too. Then we can talk to her.”

Paul Beckman was one of the winners in The Best Small Fictions 2016!  His latest collection of flash stories, “Kiss Kiss” ( Truth Serum Press) is available at Amazon. Some places his stories have been published: Literary Orphans, Matter Press, Spelk, The Lost Balloon, Gravel, and Pank. Paul had a micro-story selected for the 2018 New Norton Anthology on micro-fiction. He hosts the monthly FBomb NY flash fiction reading series in KGB’s Red Room.

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