The dark seemed even darker than usual to my 7-year-old eyes. Deepening clouds heightened the eeriness as they intermittently twinkled the faint sliver of moon on and off. I trembled. My first night venturing into the old burial ground across the street from my house seemed like a grand adventure.
Was that a wolf?
No, there are no wolves in my town. I think. It must have been the wind, my desperately anxious mind offered. And yet the stillness suggested otherwise.
“Let’s do this,” I said to no one there.
This isn’t so bad, I told myself. Inching forward along the dark path, I couldn’t read the shadowy grave markers. Not that their eroded faces could be read even during the day. The youngest were for people gone more than a century; the oldest long recycled into nutrients for the struggling trees, the browning grass, and the ravenous worms. Ick. Worms. Why did I have to think of that? More shivers.
Up the steps to the half dozen terraces. These have better views, I reflected, before catching my irreverence. Reaching the top as the dancing clouds split to shoot a glimmer of lunar light earthward, I could see the expanse of dead stones spreading out before me. The plateau stretched for miles, or at least so it seemed to my young imagination. So many lost souls. So many gone forever.
I turn to look back down the terraced hill to my house standing beyond the wrought iron fence, its line of spearheads separating the living from the dead.
Or did it? How alive was I, really? The patriots who helped form this nation lay around me. Were we like them? Could we stand up to tyranny? Could we recognize tyranny? Were we tyranny?
I trembled at the thought.
David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book on Abraham Lincoln is due out in 2017.