Passage

Hunebed

“But where does it go to, Grandma?”

“Ah, girl, that’s it, ain’t it? People been asking that for … well, for longer than I can call to mind. I asked my granny, and she said just the same, so’s at least since your granny’s granny’s age, people been wondering. Asking. A-feared to know. A-feared not to know. But ain’t nobody been brave enough to walk through and see. Leastways, nobody what’s come back to tell. Though ….” The old woman’s voice trailed off.

“What, Grandma?”

Grandma sighed. “I didn’t ought tell you. You’ve done got enough o’them ideas in your head.”

“Tell me, please, tell me,” she wheedled. “I gotta know. Please, please?”

“Oh, all right. You ain’t gonna give me a moment’s peace if I don’t. It ‘uz your great-great Uncle Tobias. He just had to know things — ”

“Like me, Grandma?”

“Yes, child, like you. Alluz asking questions. Alluz wanting to know how things work, and why, why, why ever moment, my granny said. Drove ever-one to distraction, plumb to distraction, child. There come a day when he’d just had enough being shooed and shushed. He walked through that doorway yonder you’s alluz asking about.” She fell silent for a moment.

“What happened, Grandma, what happened?”

“Nothing happened. He come back. He weren’t never the same. Gibbering ‘bout things, people that ain’t like us on t’other side. Things, scary things, moving around, not never where they was when you last seed ‘em. He was all jumpy-like. I remember oncet, hearing a sound and he screamed they was coming fer him, fixing to do terrible things to him. Took a donkey’s age for us to calm him down. After that, he just got quieter and quieter, off by hisself.”

After a long silence, the girl asked, “But he went through? He really went through?”

“Child, I don’t know. He said he did. More likely it ‘uz some sickness, some devilment in his brain made him think he had. How could they be people on t’other side, people that ain’t like us? It’s nonsense, child, just an old man’s nonsense. Don’t you go getting no ideas, girl. Your mama’d never forgive me if something wuz to happen to you.”

“Yes, Grandma,” the girl lied, “I won’t get no ideas.” ~Cause I already has ideas. I don’t need to get no more.~

Grandma kept an eye on her for a time, playing innocently by herself, and then, as happens to old women with nothing much to do, she began to doze. The girl watched carefully, and began edging closer and closer to that door, the huge stones brought long before, capped with another, long enough before for not simply lichens, but grass to find root, to grow and disguise the mysterious purpose the girl was sure the doorway served. Finally with a last glance at Grandma, she dared what only her great-great-uncle had dared, shook off the dirt that covered her coffin and stepped through. Into life.

 

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