The pagan symbol on the smooth white marble headstone caught Richard’s attention. The low dark clouds had all the markings of a horror movie, but his grief gave him courage, and it did cross his mind to turn around and leave.
He wanted to confront the dead and ask them why they were gone. If Richard had his way, he would argue with Death itself. Only a fool could see the movement and beauty of the living, and their meaningless ending and assume death is the answer.
A cold wind made Richard cross his arms and suck in his breath. His tears felt icy as they rolled down his red cheeks. Unceremoniously, he wiped his cheeks and nose on his jacket sleeve. Richard plodded to the headstone that was so familiar to his nightmares and reality.
Richard looked towards the sky and roared at God. Words were unnecessary. If there was an Almighty, He already knew Richard’s mission. He had pleaded his case for the last two hours in the car with the unseen God. All he needed was a sign, not for proof, but comfort. Something that would tell him that his father was alright and that he was okay.
The ground was soft and damp as it collided with his pants and knees. Richard bowed his head and wept. How long he cried, he did not know. It felt like an eternity and a moment. A thought popped in his mind and made his face flush.
“What if a policeman drives by, or a student taking a shortcut through the cemetery. I must look like a madman.”
Wiping his face with his damp jacket sleeve, Richard hoisted himself back to his feet with the help of the gravestone. To his surprise, at the bottom of the hill, sat an old car. It was not the sort of vehicle one would consider a classic; it was merely old. The rust replaced the fender, and a multi-color faded paint job made the car appear abandoned.
Shaking his head, Richard looked towards the ground, but mumbled to heaven, “That’s the sort of car you’d send my dad in just to be funny. Well, I’m not in a laughing mood.”
The car appeared driverless. Richard scanned the graveyard for the location of the new visitor. The vehicle’s engine started, and it slowly made its way towards the exit. As the car made the final right turn towards the road, the sound of another vehicle caught his attention. It appeared at the top of the opposite hill in the cemetery.
It was black with gold trim. There were no signs of emblems. Richard was quite familiar with cars, but could not place this one. The vehicle looked like it had the front end of a Lexus, but the body reminded him of an old Mercury his parents once owned, except theirs was blue. The windows were tinted black and impossible to see through. Richard looked over his shoulder, and the beater car had disappeared. When he turned back, the black car sat at the bottom of the hill.
The increase in traffic convinced Richard it was time to go. The tears still fell from his cheeks, and he started walking towards his car at the side of the hill. As he walked to his car, the black vehicle began to move. It seemed to keep perfect pace with his steps. Richard quickened his walk, and the car crept faster. Richard stopped, and so did the automobile.
A chill went down his spine, and he wondered if they intended to rob him. He started walking again, and as he did, another thought popped into his head.
“What if it’s one of my relatives. I would hate for them to see me making a scene.”
With a couple of deep breaths, Richard attempted to stop his weeping. Although his breathing calmed, his eyes remained blurry. As he walked up to his car, the black car drove by. Someone appeared in the tinted glass. Richard was not sure who it was. He avoided eye contact for fear they would see his tears.
Richard unlocked his door and looked up. The black vehicle was nowhere to be seen. Not at the exit, nor on the long stretch of road next to the cemetery.
He chastised himself, “Your mother will get a call from your relatives wanting to know what’s wrong with you. Why didn’t you say hello.”
He prepared to drive away and checked his mirrors. Looking back at him in his rearview mirror was his father’s sparkling blue eyes.
“Great,” said Richard. “How do my eyes look just like Dad? There’s no way I can deny it was me they saw. They’ll say, ‘He had his father’s eyes.”
Richard made his way out of the cemetery and stopped for gas on his way out of town. He slipped back into the driver’s seat and prepared to leave the station. Once more, he checked his mirror and then caught his breath. No longer were his father’s eyes looking at him. His own bloodshot, flat, dull blue eyes, swollen from crying stared back.
The corner of Richard’s lips curled up, and he said, “My father’s eyes. How could I be so stupid..”
He looked heavenward through the windscreen and said, “Thank you.”
Laughter escaped his lips for the first time in months as he pulled onto the road for the long drive home.