Friday Fictioneers–Grave Choices

Posted: April 3, 2013 in Friday Fictioneers, Writing
Tags: , , , , , , ,

It’s finally April.  The sun is beginning to warm the earth.  I can’t wait for the new life of plants to begin adorning the earth and for the excitement of renewal and beginnings.

But life is only one end of the spectrum.  At the other end lies death.

copyright indira

Grave Choices

Beneath the lone, gnarled tree standing sentinel atop the wind-swept hill was the perfect spot for her grave. He didn’t use a backhoe.  Its noise seemed out-of-place at a funeral.  He dug the grave by hand, careful to make it deep enough to frustrate hungry predators. The hard physical work helped assuage his pain, allowing space for memories of the good times they’d shared.

He preserved the wild plants to replace afterward.  The tree would be her headstone; her body would go back to the land.  After all these years, she deserved the best.  His partner…his best friend….his beautiful mare.


Want to read more?  Click on this little guy to link to any or all of the stories written in response to this prompt.

  1. Sandra says:

    Sad, and then sadder still. Lovely story Janet. Well done.

    • Good morning, Sandra (here at least), and thanks. Looking forward to reading yours (and the rest) but work calls. Life is so difficult!! 🙂


  2. That was so sad and so touching, I can “see” it … Thanks for this wonderful post :o)

  3. C.J. Black says:

    Beautifully told, hope it was just a story.

  4. pamelavmason says:

    Poignant moment there. I’m always saddened in a different way when I read of our lost animals.

  5. rich says:

    holy wow. how long it must have taken to dig a mare’s grave by hand! i can understand the pain that needed to be worked out through the physical work. well done.

    • It would take a long time, Rich, but that time was also healing as you said. Thanks for taking time from your busy writing schedule to stop by.


  6. Shreyank says:

    A beautiful touching story Janet 🙂

  7. jwdwrites says:

    Very good Janet, similar to mine but better. Shame mine is next in the links! 🙂

  8. Sad, but it must be quite a hole… funeral refernces seems to be a theme this week.

  9. 40again says:

    Hi Janet
    A lovely sad story, as I read I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be about a human.
    Animals bring out the best in us, they take our love without question and love us in return and are so badly missed once they are gone.
    The ashes of our 16 year old Bichon lie in a casket at the bottom of a large pot on the patio. FunniIy enough, the geranium that is in there has flowered all through the winter, much to the amazement of everyone who has seen it…
    Take care

    • In Wyoming, where we go each summer and have the horses, most horses aren’t buried. It’s too much work. Often they’re sent to the canners which, although it sounds harsh, at least recycles them in a useful way. Sometime they’re left to return to nature. But a horse is much larger than a dog, so it would be harder to bury or put in a pet cemetery (if it’s even legal.)


  10. yarnspinnerr says:

    Great writing 🙂

  11. Sad yet nice story, it reminded me somehow of that movie Buried, don’t know why tho.

    • Didn’t see that, but I’m glad you liked the story. How are things for you?


      • Everything ok, crazy busy, living out of recicle posts but fine. And guess what? This year I’ll plant my own pumpkin, I’ll post pics.

      • I know. I can’t wait to see your pictures. I’m hoping by pumpkin time that we’ll have sold the house and I’ll be moved out with Bill. The rental house has lovely landscaping but nowhere to grow things, so we’ll be doing container gardening while we live there. That works, too, but takes more watering.

  12. deanabo says:

    Sad and beautiful in one.

  13. TheImaginator says:

    He must have really liked that horse 😉

    • He did. If you work with an animal as a cowboy would with a horse, they can become almost like family member, certainly a partner. Most people won’t bury a horse, but it makes a good story. Thanks for stopping!


  14. Honie Briggs says:

    At the end I fully appreciated the labor it took to dig that grave. Truly touching story.

    • Thanks, Honie. Just reading and commenting on yours now.


      • Dear Janet,
        A truly well written story. I loved the twist at the end that it’s not his beloved wife he’s laying to rest but his mare. You skillfully captured the man’s emotion. Love it,

      • Rochelle, as always, I cherish your comments. The story underwent a number of changes but his love for the horse who served him so faithfully and so well was always the centerpiece of the story. Glad it came through.


  15. vbholmes says:

    A lovely, tender story, Janet, and well written. (I hate to make suggestions even though I appreciate getting them–I don’t think assuaged needs a “d” .)

  16. That’s alot of love. Some animals are worth the sacrifice

  17. A lovely story with a nice twist Janet. You had me swooning.

  18. Brian Benoit says:

    The idea of the hard work assuaging his pain was spot on – and it seemed so fitting at the end when you find out he’s burying his mare. Good stuff (not that I expect anything else)!

    • Thanks, Brian. I’ve always found that hard work helps with pain, If nothing else, it get my mind off of whatever’s bothering me and also accomplishes something, which also makes me feel better. 🙂

      You know that if someone types your name incorrectly, you become Brain? 🙂


      • Brian Benoit says:

        Ha, I actually did know that, and turns out they don’t even have to be typing it. I have many a yearbook from middle and high school with “see you next year, Brain!” written in the cover…then again, maybe they really thought that was my name…

      • Well, be thankful it wasn’t something worse!

  19. A gentle story with a surprise twist at the end. I was touched. Nice work as usual, Janet.

  20. nightlake says:

    a sad horse story. the comradeship between human and horse written in a touching way..well done

  21. Penny L Howe says:

    Hi Janet. I found your story moving and the ending a perfect fit. I really enjoyed reading this from start to finish!

  22. kz says:

    great emotions in this piece! i loved the reveal at the end

  23. Alastair says:

    Awww so very sweet. Making it seem like his wife, child or sibling is sad enough, then when you find out it’s a horse makes it perfect. Well done

    • It may not be a big twist, but it’s one that might be true. If I’d have a few more words, maybe the horse could have been buried by a family member. 🙂 (Didn’t think of that until this morning, so…) Thanks for stopping by.


      • Alastair says:

        I can see where that would have taken it 🙂 We always think of more after it’s been published.

        I’ve just started something like this myself where photos I have taken myself are used as a prompt for a 150 word story. It’s here if you are interested.

      • Thanks for the invitation, Alastair. I may be able to do this at some point, which would be fun, but I’m so busy right now that doing my blog, writing for FF and reading all the stories is all the time I can afford to devote to the computer. 🙂

        Blessings on your day,


      • Alastair says:

        Thanks 🙂

        The stories do seem to mount up quickly

  24. Lovely tale, touchingly told.

  25. elappleby says:

    Sad and sweet. some lovely touches: “he didn’t use a backhoe” I really liked for some reason – I’ll have to go away and work out why!
    I loved him digging the grave by hand – great stuff.

    • Thanks, el. I liked that part, too. It just made the quiet and peacefulness of the land seem important and that he cared enough about all that while he was mourning was something I wanted to convey.

      Always good to hear from you!


  26. boomiebol says:

    This is moving, and so well done too. Well done

  27. petronmb says:

    Interesting how your rendition gives the tree such strong presence and dynamic quality toward the ending. Good work!

  28. Sheila says:

    Very beautiful and sad, but it’s nice knowing the tree will be the headstone. Can’t ask for a better one than that.

    • Sheila, I think it would be lovely to have a plant or tree as a tombstone. Of course if everyone had a tree, the graves would have to either be very far apart or bodies around the tree in a spoke formation. 🙂


  29. julespaige says:

    To all those unmarked graves…to those who gave back…gave their backs.
    Your tale gives honor.

  30. rgayer55 says:

    A very touching and well written (as always) story, Janet.

  31. That’s quite a twist at the end, very touching. I was wondering if it was related to your Going for Gold story a couple weeks ago.

    • Glad you liked it. The only relationship is that they were both about horses, which didn’t even occur to me until you mentioned it.

      Have a great weekend.

  32. unspywriter says:

    Ah, that brought back memories of my Dad burying a series of his horses over the years. He wouldn’t let anyone else do it, and your story illustrates that bond between human and equine so deftly. Nice job.

    Here’s mine:

    • Thanks, Maggie. Glad it brought back some good memories. I’m slowly making my way towards your story but life, work and taxes have a nasty way of intruding upon one’s life at the most inopportune times!

      Have a great weekend.


  33. Very effective, very moving … and still surprised me at the end. Well done.

  34. Tom Poet says:

    I was thinking the same thing as Rich…That is one bog hole. Totally get the concept. Excellent work this week Janet.

    • Hey, Tom, thanks for stopping by. That would a big hole but he can handle it.

      Do you have the girls this weekend? Whatever you do, enjoy it.


      • Tom Poet says:

        The girls are on a cruise with their Mom this week…Gonna go listen to some music and check out some open mics…you?

      • Farmer’s market goes outdoors tomorrow morning and of course church Sunday morning (I sing with the praise team). Undoubtedly some more work on the floors and I plan a bit of down time, too. “Blue Bloods” tonight. Love Tom Selleck! 🙂

  35. Parul says:

    Nice twist in the end!
    As I started reading, I thought he was a murderer, then I thought a true lover.. Never occurred she could be a mare!
    Clever work 🙂

  36. Debra Kristi says:

    Beautiful, and yet so sad. I admit to reading your posts backwards so I wasn’t surprised to find it was a mare. We become so attached to our beloved animals. My godfather owe’s horses and I know how much they mean to him. I see you with your’s in your gravitar. You did a lovely job. I so like the idea of the tree as a headstone.

    • Glad you liked the story, Debra. If everyone starts reading the story backward, I’ll have to put the twist at the beginning. 🙂 (Do you read everyone’s backwards?)

      Have a great weekend!


      • Debra Kristi says:

        I meant that I read the post after this one first. I guess that put horse on my mind. I was working my way back through your posts. 😉 Not actually reading a post backwards. Although, that would present an interesting challenge.

      • Phew! That makes more sense. I figured you meant you looked at the ending first, not literally reading it backwards. That would be quite a (weird) talent. 🙂

  37. Janet, oh so sad and moving. This is my favorite line, “The hard physical work helped assuage his pain, allowing space for memories of the good times they’d shared.”

  38. Maggie says:

    Lovely story. My dearly departed pets have all had special burials along with a favorite toy. Buried in a place of such beauty.

    • It would be a beautiful place to be buried. When I was growing up, all I had were goldfish, but after a suitable burial, they enriched the soil for my tomatoes. 🙂


  39. erinleary says:

    It’s like a continuation of Mystic’s story…the final parting of the ways.

  40. Nick Johns says:

    A lyrical and wistful tone to this piece. Good stuff Janet. BTW ‘a mare’? that’s one big hole to dig – respect!

    • A mare is a female horse. A young female horse is a filly, young male a colt, older neutered male a gelding and older intact male a stallion. Horses 101.

      Glad you liked the story and enjoy the weekend.


  41. Jacey Faye says:

    Beautiful, and even more touching because it was for his mare, at least to me. I adore how dedicated he must have been to her, how much he must have loved her, to dig her grave by hand.

  42. Oh, I have so been there. But I can’t imagine burying a horse without a back hoe. I was lucky. I passed my horses on in their middle age with a contract binding the new owners to keep them in the quality state they had learned to love. They all lived to ripe old ages (the pony died at 43!- but she was tough and Welsh) – and 20 years on, the owner of a beautiful Chestnut, tells me Gypsy is still her best friend.

    • It would definitely be a labor of love (emphasis on labor) but makes for a better story. 🙂 Sunday, my horse in the gravatar, is 30 and we gifted her to some friends who can keep her comfortable year-round so she doesn’t have to run on the range during the winter which would certainly kill her.


  43. Awww, that’s nice.

  44. billgncs says:

    ah — Rosie’s tale 🙂 ( well almost )

  45. zookyworld says:

    A sad story, but such a fitting tribute to do these things for a wonderful best friend.

    • I’m glad you thought so; I did, too. Unfortunately, animals don’t live nearly as long as humans, so we’ll have our hearts broken at some point or more than once.


  46. Joe Owens says:

    I hope this wasn’t a true story of you experiences with the equine friend in your picture. Either way it is chock full of emotion. I really enjoyed it.

  47. sandraconner says:

    Oh, I really like this. You capture the reader from the very beginning and keep him in your grasp. That makes the ending all the more powerful because your reader thinks he knows where he’s going. Then you grip him even tighter with that surprise ending.

  48. beebeesworld says:

    very nice…heart rending. beebeesworld

    • Thanks for stopping by, Beebee. Glad you liked it. It is a heart-rending thing when a favorite animal dies; not as bad as for a human , but bad.