Daffodils Part 2

As we creaked open the gate and stepped inside, I felt an overwhelming sense of fear. Normally, I did not believe that places affected how people felt. To me, you could brighten a place just through your emotions. But now, I was not so sure. I took Millie’s hand in mine; comforted by its warmth. Together, we squelched into the graveyard.
‘Look mummy, dead people.’
I jumped, half expecting to a see a line of zonbies, staring at us. Then I realised she was pointing to the broken gravestones, arranged all higgledy piggledy to our left.
‘Shall we find out who they were?’ I asked.
Millie nodded,as we knelt down in front of the decaying stone, nearest to us. The writing was very faded and partially covered with some sort of algae.
‘There’s a ‘t’ ‘ said Millie palcing her finger over the ‘T’ of the name Thomas Barnley. ‘When did he die, mummy?’
I squinted ‘Some time in the 1800s’ I can’t make out the exact date.’
And so it went on. We moved from grave to grave. There were fifteen of them in all. Mainly from the Barnley family, but also a few called Tippet. All of them had died in the 1800s, but none of the dates were more precise than that.
‘Why did the little boy die?’ asked Millie
We were standing on the final grave. I shook my head. The boy had only been two years of age.
‘Sometimes little children get ill.’
Instantly, I regretted what I had said. I should have said something like ‘God wanted to look after him. But I had never been religious and couldn’t pretend that I believed in such sentiments.
The air now felt pretty warm and it lifted my spirits. We walked over to the front entrance of the chapel and up the single stone step to the oak door.
‘Let’s go inside.’ Suggested Millie.
I lifted the cold iron latch and pushed. The old door didn’t budge.
‘I’m afraid it’s locked.’
‘Why?’
‘I suppose to stop people going in and damaging or stealing things.’
‘Why would people do that?’ asked Millie, her eyes wide with interest.
‘Some people are bad.’
Millie looked frightened, and glanced round as though she was expecting hoards of bad people to come rushing up the path.
It was the second time I had frightened her since we had been in the graveyard. I felt like such a bad mum. I should have learnt to keep my mouth shut.
I sat down on the stone step and lifted my face to the sun
‘Mmmmmmmmm’
I could hear Millie chattering away and when I glanced over, I could see her scattering handfuls of grass on each grave.
‘What on earth are you doing?’
They want flowers. Grandpa and Grandma’s grave has flowers.’
‘I shoudl imagine everyone who knew these people are dead, Millie. I don’t really think grass is appropriate.’
‘They like it.’ She said firmly and continued until every grave had a pile of grass on top of it. She then dusted off her hands, looking very satisfied with herself.
‘I’m hungry’ she said. As though expecting me to conjur up a sandwich.
I looked at my watch.
‘Oh my God. It’s nearly one o’clock.’
I could not believe we had been there for over three hours. As we rushed out of the graveyard, Millie turned back and waved.
‘Mummy, you should say goodbye. It’s rude not to.’
I laughed. Millie could be so funny in her ways sometimes.


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