Everything Beautiful is Far Away

The grass had been trimmed around the headstone, so he turned to the weeds sprouting from the mound of upturned earth that had still not settled all these weeks later. That, as with everything else these days, would take time. There were two names on the gravestone, and beneath those names two birthdates. Only one had the second date marking the end of a lifetime. The sky above, a prairie sky, never quite vanishing in the distance.

He was in a reflective mood as he drove home from the cemetery, the windows rolled down and the smell of the fields coming in. Before he would have gone on his own to do a job like this, but now he preferred company. He talked about how his father had gotten sick and he had quit school in grade nine to take over the farm. When the war had come he had not gone, as everyone else his age had, and he could recall the stares of neighbors as they wondered why this healthy young man had been given his exemption. It was a difficult time, but he kept the farm going, even after his father died, only to have to give it up when his brother returned with the war over. He married not long after and started his own.

“I never did go very far in life,” he said, “Just across the road.”