James took off his gloves and opened his wool coat. He was glad to be in
the warmth of the little building even if temporarily. It had been a chilly
drive in his beat-up old rental, the heater barely working, and he had
cursed himself all the way from town for going with the budget rental.
A man sat behind a desk at the back of the room, reading. He looked up
at James, carefully put down his magazine on the desk, and stood. He was
very tall and gaunt, and pale as a sheet, and James thought to himself
that somehow seemed appropriate for a man who worked at a cemetery.
James introduced himself. The man seemed to feel no inclination to give
his name in return or to shake hands, and James let it slide. He told
the man why he was there.
"What was the name?" the man asked.
"Bridges" James told him. "Olivia Bridges. I was told she was buried
The man pulled a small, hand-held computer off his desk and typed with
one finger. "Yes. Bridges, Olivia. She is laid to rest in Section 12, plot 22.
God rest her soul."
"How do I get there from here?"
James drove through the huge cemetery, the largest in the city, following
the slightly winding road. He turned at the second intersection, then
followed that down past two more. Halfway down the next he pulled over
and turned off the ignition.
Putting his gloves back on and rebuttoning his coat James walked out
amongst the gravestones. The snow was several inches thick, mostly
unbroken. The skies were steel grey with no differentiation. "Danish
skies" James said to himself. "Or maybe St. Petersburg. Who knows."
But this was neither. This was Indianapolis, the city of his birth.
James stopped. He had no idea where plot 22 would be other than the
fact that the man at the office had told him it was near the center
on the southern edge. But there were many stones. Some were of the
larger, older style. But some were totally flat and impossible to read
even when he was right upon them because of the snow.
"This is shear folly."
He walked between rows, back and forth, loosing track of time. He became
lightheaded and dizzy, his blood pressure sinking down into the basement.
But his heart by some miracle was still beating, something they had
doubted would be the case four years ago.
Then he found it. The stone was of the upright variety, copper colored
and with rounded shoulders. He looked at it. He felt somehow lost and
wondered why he had come here. It had been almost two decades since
he had seen his old violin teacher.
"Hello, Mrs. Bridges. I came to see you."
Back when he was young, faithfully every two weeks, James had taken
the long bus trip through town to study with Mrs. Bridges. Even early
on Mrs. Bridges had been kind to him. She had fixed him up with a used
handmade violin, one that was much better than the machine made one he
had started on. Music had meant so much to him. And Mrs. Bridges was,
for the most part, a patient teacher. She was his mentor. She was his
"No, James. Think of them as little bunny rabbits hopping up and down
on the strings." She reached out and lifted his fingers gently off the
fingerboard, and gently lowered them back down. "Little bunny rabbits.
You're clutching too much."
And then, strangely, she gently lowered the neck of the violin and
looked at him.
"James, you have to learn not to clutch so much."
James walked up to the stone. He ran his fingers over it, brushing off
the thin layer of freshly fallen snow. The stone should have been blue,
he thought. Blue to match her eyes. He bent down and kissed the stone.
And then it hit him like a cold blast, the tears so profuse he had to
keep wiping his eyes with his gloves. "Yes" he told her, "I think I am
finally learning. Not to clutch so much. It has taken so long, though.
The tears finally stopped. He felt empty. He looked up at the gray sky
and at the bare trees, thin and dark. There was virtually no sound.
There should be music, he thought. Vivaldi maybe, L'Inverno. Or maybe
He looked back at the stone.
"I don't even know how to thank you. I owe you so much. And I loved you."
He lifted both arms up into the air and closed his eyes. "No more. Let
go. Let it all go."
He began spinning, his face tilted up at the winter sky, spinning
counterclockwise, at first slowly and then more quickly. He let go. His
soul soared upward into the grayness; but past it then, and outward. He
let go. He was with the stars, flying through galaxies.