Then there was old Mrs Nocneid. Small and dainty, with a lame leg. Wearing the hat with a fabric flower to one side, and sheepskin boots. Picking her way along the pavement, trying not to step on the patches of snow, and standing in the puddles instead. She’d only popped out to get some onions and a loaf of bread.
Her path took her through the cemetery, where she always stopped to consider at least three of the headstones. Each one a portion of her life, wrapped up neatly in granite, frozen in time. Slow moments pondering, and wondering. And remembering, and sometimes dreaming. The sounds of wind and birdsong becoming distant for her, as her pale blue eyes misted over.
Two youths rushed by on bikes, shouting obscenities at each other and weaving in and out of the gravestones as they went.
“Hey lady.. your turn soon!”
“Fuck off Sim, don’t be a twat..”
And they were through the gate and off down the path, their noise disappearing with them.
But Mrs Nocneid’s world had been ruffled now. And a sibilant wind hissed through the watching Yew trees, blowing snow off the tops of the headstones as it went.
She shivered, her attention pulled unwillingly back from her past to her present, looked around her, and sighed. And the wind sighed with her and became still.
The youths returned, breaking the silence. They were racing each other round the block. Down the path, past the pub, down the high street past the shop, through the cemetery and off down the path again. This time they stopped in the cemetery.
At that moment, bright spring sunlight burst through a passing space between scudding clouds, and the church and cemetery lit up. A cross that stood on top of the roof cast a long shadow over the jumbled headstones, and there lay Mrs Nocneid. She was face up and cruciform, her eyes staring at the sky. Her hat lay some way from her head and her surprisingly long hair lay fanned out on the dazzling snow like a silver halo. She was smiling.
She forgave the boys.