A Grave Longing

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Hello all!  My two words for the flash fiction challenge were:  longing and inscription.  Take a look and see how I did!

“Blimey, it’s bloody cold tonight!” hissed Samuel as he shoved his spade into the dirt.  “Reckon, Dr. Van der Veran ever come out he’self and dig these up?”

“Doubt it.  Now get back to work, ya bleedin ninny before we freeze to death,” Arthur replied in a stage whisper.

Arthur was sure to keep his ears peeled for any sudden sounds or rustling noises.  The penalty for body snatching was imprisonment and a large fine.  Best not to be caught when you barely have the money to eat.

A loud thunk sounded as Arthur dug his spade into the frozen ground.

“There she is!” Samuel smiled.

As Samuel reached down to move the dirt aside and open the lid of the coffin, Arthur took a look at the gravestone.  The light of the full moon illuminated the inscription on Miss Clara Berry’s stone:

Remember Me As Thou Pass By
As Thou Art Now
So Once Was I
As I Am Now
So Thou Wilt Be
Prepare Thy Way
To Follow Me

A sudden chill raced through Arthur’s bones as he realized Miss Berry was his age.  He had read of her death in the papers.  She was found strangled in the garden of her home.  No suspects.  

“You gonna help me or am I gonna have to lug her back to the Doc’s lab me’self?” Samuel hissed, his breath fogging in the chilly night air.

Shaking himself out of his stupor, Arthur jumped down into the hole and came face to face with the eternally young Clara Berry.  She looked familiar to him.  Had the article in the paper included a picture?  Her strawberry blonde curls could not draw his attention away from her angelic resting smile.  

“She looks like she’s asleep, don’t she?” Samuel asked.

“Don’t matter none now.  Let’s get to work,” he replied as he began lifting her out of the coffin.  His eyes caught on the golden, heart-shaped locket hanging around her neck.  It was small and delicate, with roses surrounding a simple gold heart in the center.

“Bet that’d catch a pretty penny,” Samuel stated.

“Ai,” Arthur grunted as he worked to purge all personal items from her body to be left in the coffin.  It was a felony to take belongings from a grave, even pricier than taking the body.  

When they had removed the final item and wrapped the body in the sheet they’d brought, they lifted her out of the hole.  

Wiping his forehead on his arm, Samuel chuckled, “Ai, if we ‘urry we might grab a pint at the pub… tickle your innards, it might.”   

Arthur was too focused on the gold locket lying in the coffin.  It called to him.  He’d never wanted anything more in his life than to hold that fragile piece of jewelry in his hands.  It belonged to him.  He felt it absolute certainty.  He knew it’d be more than a stiff fine if he was caught with it, but he simply had to have it.  Thinking quickly, he gestured to Samuel.

“You ‘ere that?  Check the perimeter and see if there any mutton shunters about,” he ordered.

As soon as Samuel turned his back, Arthur reached in and grabbed the gold locket, shoving it deep into the pocket of his trousers.  If felt warm to the touch.

Samuel returned shaking his head.

“No ‘un ‘ere.  Let’s get back to the lab.  I’m freezin me tallywags off out ‘ere.”

The two men moved quickly, lifting the body and disappearing into the night.  Neither noticed the pale, almost translucent woman under the birch tree who watched their every move.  Her bright blue eyes gave life to her ghostly pallor.

“Oh Darling, how I’ve longed for our reunion.  Hold onto my locket.  I’ll be retrieving it soon,” whispered Clara Berry into the night wind.

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