James walked out of the office into the heat of a fading August day. He stuffed his last paycheck into the back pocket of his jeans and unlocked his bike from the handicapped sign. Not a hundred yards behind him was 20 acres of fertilized grass dotted with gray granite tombstones. About 3 or 4 dozen of those stones sat on top of graves James had dug.
He got on his bike and started to ride away from the office. He took the long way through the cemetery. He’d worked here every summer since starting college and now, well, he started law school in two weeks. His bike was the same bike he’d gotten as a high school graduation present. The chain had rusted a little from too many times being locked out in the rain, but overall James was happy it hadn’t gotten stolen after four years of college. He liked riding around the cemetery on it. It was something vaguely eccentric that didn’t quite rise to the level of transgressive.
The graves were topped with bright, almost neon bouquets of carnations. The pinks and reds looked electric against the chemical green grass. Graves came in three varieties, James noted. There was the stone that was fully sunk into the ground. If these weren’t tended to, the carved name in the stone faded away quickly. There was the simple stone that rose perpendicular to the ground. Sometimes there was carving or a picture set in along with the name, but the shape of these stones was essentially the same.
Then there were what could properly be called monuments. These often looked different on the surface. One in the cemetery looked like an old fashioned lamppost with six sides. Each side had the name and dates for a different family member. One was a small stone mausoleum with the family name in block lettering above the door. But these were always alike in size, more or less, and the fonts used. Something swirly to convey love or something harsh to convey dignity.
James had seen the same graves every day for the past four summers. He could distinguish from place in the cemetery the approximate age of the grave, but they all started to blur together into hundreds and hundreds of granite rocks. What caught his eye now were the three girls riding their bikes on the sidewalk on the other side of the fence. They were bigger girls and their thighs bulged out of their short shorts. They giggled and shrieked and a family laying flowers at a grave shot them a dirty look.
James slowed down a little to keep up with the girls. He thought of Martha and how they were still technically together. Martha and her dancer’s legs. She’d be in Brooklyn, he’d be in Philly. They could make it work. James pushed the thought out of his head. Summers to him had always meant chubby girls with bouncy tits on bikes. They all blurred together to him. He’d taken a couple behind trees in the cemetery at times a bit later than this. They were nothing like Martha, hell, he couldn’t remember their names; he didn’t think he was cheating.
James looked at the asses of the girls on the other side of the fence and thought of taking one of them with him. He thought against it. He turned his bike left and nearly cut the girls off as he crossed the street away from the cemetery. A plane shrieked above him; the cemetery was in a flight path. He biked down wide suburban streets, trees on both sides, sprinklers taking advantage of the quickly cooling afternoon. Neat concrete paths led to steps and steps led to doors, mailboxes, and window boxes.
James never felt as home as when he was biking down the nearly-empty streets. The sunlight shone through the trees and took on a slight green tinge. Occasionally you could hear a child or a dog cry out. James imagined Martha and himself in one of these houses. Martha would have nice legs and teach ballet. He would be a lawyer and spend his nights riding around cemeteries and fucking heavy girls. He would not ask her much about what went on in her head and she would not know that there were three kinds of graves, but they were all essentially the same.
He should use his last check to send her flowers, he mused as he biked up his parents’ long driveway. His mother had left him a plate of dinner on the table. He ate it, then went up to his room to jack off.