White Roses

Terri Lynn Coop

This year’s Halloween dare is a piece of cake. I’ll be done in an hour. Honestly, Thursday’s full moon should make it easier.


As I slipped through a gap in the stone fence, I realized I’d made a mistake not bringing a flashlight. Deep in the oldest part of the cemetery, the giant oaks blocked most of the moon and cast eerie shadows. I picked up my pace. I wanted to get this done.


The Sinclair family burial plot is protected by a wrought iron pavilion topped with a lacy metal dome. The corner posts supported an ancient tangle of snowy white climbing roses twining around the iron braces creating a fragrant woven roof over the brooding graves of generations past.


However, I wasn’t here for a history lesson. At the peak is an elaborate copper-plated cross.


First, I’d claim bragging rights for the year and then I’d off it to an antique dealer for a bundle.


Piece of cake.   


I used the trunks of the roses as a ladder and crawled out onto the dome. I swore as thorns tore at my hands and the century-old iron creaked under my weight.


Okay, maybe not cake. But still worth it.


The cross was within reach. I shifted my weight and my knee slipped off the support strut, sending me face first into the roses. Cradled in the tangled vines, countless thorns bloodied me.


I tried to grab something for leverage, but every time I moved; I sank farther into the barbed agony of the bower. If I broke through, I’d end up skewered on the iron crosses below.


I screamed when I heard the first crow. My granny always told me that hearing a crow at night is a harbinger of death. When the first two landed, I buried my face in the cloying blooms.


Tuesday morning after Halloween weekend dawned cold and clear. The cemetery sextant fumbled the ornate key around in the rusty lock.


“Sorry. It’s been a while since we’ve had a Sinclair kick off. You pick the spot and I’ll get the gravediggers working.”


The funeral director looked around and said, “No worries. The funeral’s not until Friday. This really is a lovely place. Look at these roses; I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an incredible shade of red.” 

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