Graveyard Images and Inspiration

My husband says he never dreamed he’d marry a woman who loves to stop at cemeteries to take photos or just admire the surroundings. He doesn’t seem to mind our little adventures, and doesn’t seem to think I’m too crazy (or he doesn’t admit it aloud anyway).photo 1-4 photo 1-5 photo 2-5 photo 2-6 photo 3-3 photo 4-2 photo-28

Having lived in two cemeteries as a child and visited plenty of them along the way, I find them fascinating, peaceful, and even odd. The rituals of death and how we memorialize it are a puzzle. However, I think my main reason for wanting to stop, take a picture or simply look over the grounds is all about writer’s inspiration.

The character in my first novel, like me, grew up in a cemetery. I’ve got a couple of additional plots rolling around in my head for this same character and know I will get to them. However, I’ve started another novel, a thriller that doesn’t include this character. The plot came upon me like a sudden storm, and I had no choice but to start writing it.

Despite what I may be writing at any given time, I know I will likely continue to visit cemeteries and take photos. They inspire me in some weird way. I stare at the images of headstones and lawns dedicated to the dead. I wonder about the lives that were lived and those left behind.

What inspires you to seek your passion?

Photos by Lori Ericson

Advertisements

For Halloween: Revisit of My True Dead Man Story

My True Encounter with a Dead Man

I woke up to the “swish swish” sound of his arm moving against his windbreaker in the eerie green glow of the living room. His face was covered with blood, as was his chest that was exposed by the open jacket. He wore cut-off jean shorts and tennis shoes. I thought it was a dream, this stranger illuminated by the green glass lamp base. I was stretched out asleep on my stomach on the living room floor in the house next to the cemetery when I heard him. He came through the dining room and sat in my dad’s recliner a little after midnight.

Hatbox_Ghost_Sketch_by_Captain_HalfbeardHe stared at me, the smeared blood making him look surreal. I put my head back down thinking I must be dreaming.

He rocked in the recliner.

Raising my head again, I could see the same image.

“Who are you,” I asked.

“I’m dead. I just crawled out of my grave.” He rocked.

“Oh, come on. Do you know my brother John?” I asked. He looked about John’s age, a few years younger than me.

“I might of, when I was alive, but I just crawled out of my grave.” He rocked again in the recliner and continued to stare.

Frozen in place on the floor in front of him, I was unsure what to do. He wasn’t a dream. I hadn’t ever seen him before. Fear caught in my throat.

His rocking stopped. He raised a hand to his face, drew it back and stared at his palm with a quizzical look on his face as if he’d never seen blood before.

Lowering his hand to his lap, he rocked and looked at me. “I’m bleeding to death.”

“You said you’re already dead. How can you be bleeding to death?” It was an obvious question, or so I thought.

“I’m bleeding to death,” he repeated in a raised voice.

That scared me. Why had I questioned this dead man, this apparition covered in blood?

I started to get up, moving backward slowly and watching him closely.

“I just crawled out of my grave,” he yelled.

I got to my feet, ran around the corner, down the hall to my parents bedroom. I heard him following. By the time my dad sat up in bed and put on his glasses, the apparition was standing in the hall. He reached into the bathroom, flipped the switch, and the light fell over this teenage boy covered in blood.

“Who the hell are you?” Dad asked.

“I just crawled out of my grave. I’m dead.”

He stared back at Dad, who repeated his question.

“I just crawled out of my grave, and I need to use your bathroom.” He stepped into the bathroom. I heard the water start in the tub.

I didn’t see him again until the police officer gently coaxed him out of the tub and escorted the boy from our home.

My dead man had apparently done a few too many drugs, entertained himself by jumping from headstone to headstone in the dark cemetery and broke his nose.

Cemetery Sardines

We huddled against the cold granite slabs of the mausoleum while the moon faded in and out amid the moving clouds. Suppressed giggles and whispers, then a “shush, he’s coming.”

This was so much more fun than the traditional hide and seek. We hid together in a group and weren’t out there in the cemetery stowed away alone all those heart-pounding minutes while someone tried to discover each secret hiding spot.

In the game Sardines, there was just one person walking among the headstones, peeking in the dark hedges and searching in the moonlight for everyone else. There were trade offs, of course.

The loneliness for the seeker would end when at least one player was found in hide and seek. In Sardines, the group was often easier to find. But as the seeker neared, the group was also allowed to move, and attempt to find another place to wait out discovery.

rip-tombstone-mdThere were five or six of us hiding out next to the mausoleum that night. My older brother was doing the searching. We heard his footsteps on the gravel road and tried to slip around to the other side of the mausoleum before he found us. But, we were too noisy. Oh, the perils of keeping a bunch of young teens quiet in a cemetery in the dead of night.

It was my turn to go up to the shop to wait ten minutes alone while everyone hid.

The heart pounding fear traipsing around some twenty-five acres of rolling hills and moonlit headstones in solitude was so much different than the pounding a young heart does when trying to squeeze several young bodies together to wait out discovery.

It’s easy to guess which one I preferred.

Now that I’m older and can look back on those memories of growing up next to the cemetery, I’m glad for it all. What fodder for a writer of mysteries to use and embellish!

This story will likely find it’s way into that young adult book I’ve had bouncing around my brain in recent months.

A True Encounter with a Dead Man

I woke up to the “swish swish” sound of his arm moving against his windbreaker in the eerie green glow of the living room. His face was covered with blood, as was his chest that was exposed by the open jacket. He wore cut-off jean shorts and tennis shoes. I thought it was a dream, this stranger illuminated by the green glass lamp base. I was stretched out asleep on my stomach on the living room floor in the house next to the cemetery when I heard him. He came through the dining room and sat in my dad’s recliner a little after midnight.

He stared at me, the smeared blood making him look surreal. I put my head back down thinking I must be dreaming.

He rocked in the recliner.

Raising my head again, I could see the same image.

“Who are you,” I asked.

“I’m dead. I just crawled out of my grave.” He rocked.

“Oh, come on. Do you know my brother John?” I asked. He looked about John’s age, a few years younger than me.

“I might of, when I was alive, but I just crawled out of my grave.” He rocked again in the recliner and continued to stare.

Frozen in place on the floor in front of him, I was unsure what to do. He wasn’t a dream. I hadn’t ever seen him before. Fear caught in my throat.

His rocking stopped. He raised a hand to his face, drew it back and stared at his palm with a quizzical look on his face as if he’d never seen blood before.

Lowering his hand to his lap, he rocked and looked at me. “I’m bleeding to death.”

“You said you’re already dead. How can you be bleeding to death?” It was an obvious question, or so I thought.

“I’m bleeding to death,” he repeated in a raised voice.

That scared me. Why had I questioned this dead man, this apparition covered in blood?

I started to get up, moving backward slowly and watching him closely.

“I just crawled out of my grave,” he yelled.

I got to my feet, ran around the corner, down the hall to my parents bedroom. I heard him following. By the time my dad sat up in bed and put on his glasses, the apparition was standing in the hall. He reached into the bathroom, flipped the switch, and the light fell over this teenage boy covered in blood.

“Who the hell are you?” Dad asked.

“I just crawled out of my grave. I’m dead.”

He stared back at Dad, who repeated his question.

“I just crawled out of my grave, and I need to use your bathroom.” He stepped into the bathroom. I heard the water start in the tub.

I didn’t see him again until the police officer gently coaxed him out of the tub and escorted the boy from our home.

My dead man had apparently done a few too many drugs, entertained himself by jumping from headstone to headstone in the dark cemetery and broke his nose.