Home Town Tales

Name Without a Date

January 5th, 2015

Name Without a Date


A cloud of dust blowing my way on New Year’s Day twirls like a dust devil dancing in pirouettes toward me. The ground is frozen. Where does this dust come from?

It pursues me like my shadow. When I stop its twirls inch closer slowing with each revolution until it becomes a billowing dark, black, hooded cloak. One final, slow, pirouette reveals a pale, skeletal, figure holding a scythe.

The gaunt palm revolves turning up and its index finger bids me. Empty eye sockets stare freezing the air, and my breath becomes icicles, spikes of frozen life that linger between us before plummeting to the earth. The shattered pieces shimmer, catching the sun’s light and directing it to him and his ever-bidding finger, leaving me in his shadow.

I can do nothing but follow. A force compels me and we glide across the ground stopping among tombstones. After all, he represents the dead. His index finger points to a rose granite tombstone. The trees reverberate as they shiver with his voice. “Look!” Inscribed in stone are my parents’ names with dates of birth and death. My name waits a date of death. Reverberations again, “Soon. Too soon.”

Suddenly I have a longing penetrating my heart. My parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, I’ve questions on my tongue I should have asked when they were alive, embraces I shouldn’t have withheld.

As I’m thinking of them, his dance commences again, and with each pirouette the cloak, the hood, the scythe bit by bit becomes a dirt devil floating away, dissipating into air. I have an urge for a Dairy Queen fudge Sunday before supper and a compulsion to waltz my way home.

Such will be my January 1 dreams until there is a date next to my name.