Headstone

by Jack Coey

He was a boy named Perkins in a New England town, and his father owned the garage and his mother was the nurse at the grade school, and that summer it was hot and dry. It was a time before computers and cell phones and the t.v. s were black and white. Elvis sang songs on the radio. His mother had a sewing circle that came to his house every midday except when the father was home, and he no more wanted to spend time with a bunch of old ladies than he would at church. So he went outside and explored. He walked the lanes and streets of the village and stayed away from where his father would be. He walked into the woods, and would look up at the trees and marvel how tall they were. Or he would go to the river and watch the water. He saw other boys on a raft and thought he would like to try that someday. He stood in an open field and saw the mountain in the distance, and he had heard men talking about climbing the mountain and he thought he would like to do that sometime. When he went back home, his mother would ask,
?
Where have you been all this time?
?
I was exploring.
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Exploring where?
?
Around town.
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Out to the highway?
?
No.
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By yourself?
?
Yeah.
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?I don?t think this is a good idea, but I will talk to your father when he gets home.
?The boy went to his room and lay on his bed looking at the ceiling.

?His father spent at least half an hour in the bathroom getting the grime off after his work at the garage. When he sat at the kitchen table, and drank half a can of beer, his mother would take up whatever topic was at hand. He listened as she told about her discovery that their son was exploring.
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Leagues should be starting in a couple of weeks, he said.

Leagues?

Yeah, summer Little Leagues. I?m sure he?ll want to play.

They went on to something else, and the next morning when the women were in the sitting room, he walked in a direction he?d hadn?t gone before. There were some clouds. After he?d walked a mile or so, he came to a black, iron fence with stones all in a row and a sign which read, Heavenly Rest Cemetery . He went to the fence and looked through and read the marking on the stones.
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Ebenezer Pierce, Born Nov. 14, 1803 Died July 16, 1853 or Samuel Trask, Born June 11, 1817 Died February 11, 1857: Rest In Peace.

He stood looking through the fence and studied the markers. He figured out that the bars were wide enough so he could slip through. Once inside, he walked among the markers, and there were more clouds. He looked at the markers and didn?t understand what vanity and pride were, but he knew these people were asleep and that they wouldn?t wake up for a long time. He stopped in his tracks when he saw the marker with Perkins written on it. He sho0k off a chill from a passing cloud. That night he couldn?t finish his supper, and his mother sent him to bed early.

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Jack Coey lives in Keene, NH.