The Visit

The walk from the gates of the cemetery had, he decided, been designed to impress upon visitors the seriousness of the place. As he passed the gravestones, his eyes flicked over the names and dates shown. An onlooker would have seen him occasionally registering mild surprise at an age, either because of its longevity, or its lack of same.

Once or twice he passed a stone with a familiar name and again there would be an unconscious slowing down, before the regular stride resumed.

He noticed the three men standing together at one grave, not a word being spoken between them, and then, as he came closer to the grave he’d come to visit, she walked towards him on the path.

She was in her late fifties, he thought, and from long experience he knew that she was still mourning. There was something contradictory in her face, something empty, as if a surprise had been expected somehow. Then she looked at him, and he realised that it wasn’t emptiness, it was apathy.

He passed her without acknowledgement, and reached the stone. He sighed as he saw the damage but merely closed his eyes, surrounded by memories. He slowly walked around the grave using the opportunity to confirm that no one was watching. And, when convinced, he stooped and slid his hand around the site, feeling for and then finding the motion detectors. Ten of them in all, all of them softly vibrating to his touch.

Satisfied, he stood, his face as hard and emotionless as the stone itself.

And then he left, walking slowly.

This was the last visit of the day; he’d already visited two other graves today.

He’d be back tomorrow. And every day after that.

Such was his responsibility. And his duty. But never his pleasure. Never that.

Well, almost never.

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