I stared into the gaping maw, wondering if it would swallow me whole as well. The black dress Grandma had me wear itched, the cotton scratchy and rough. I didn’t understand what was happening. At my small three feet of height, the world seemed so much bigger. Scary big. And this hole? I felt that I was standing on the edge of forever.
I tried to ease back, and stepped into my Pa. He wore his stern face. The face he wore when I broke the lamp. And when the cow died last summer. He motioned with his head, and I turned back around before he got sterner. I just hated facing that black pit. I tried to not squirm while the Pastor said his bit. It must have been nice, since all the women were crying. But I didn’t understand what he was saying, so I just stood and tried to look stern like Pa.
When the Pastor stopped talking, Pa nudged me in my back. I stepped forward slowly, scared to death. I held the rose out at arms length as far as I could stretch. I dropped it and it hit the edge of the pit before falling down into the black. One lone red petal remained
Afterward, the women came by and hugged me a lot. Most of them smelled like powder and it made me sneeze once in a lady’s face. Pa stood next to me, looking very stern and just nodding when anyone spoke to him. After the last few trickled past, Pa put his hand on my shoulder. I looked up and saw that all his sternness had faded away. His eyes looked wet and he gave me a sad smile.
“Let’s go on home, Mae. It’s gettin’ dark.”
I nodded and took ahold of his hand. We walked, slow, back to the truck. I looked back to see the men with shovels putting the dirt back in the hole. It wouldn’t swallow me now.
To Be Continued . . .