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A Day with the Dead


The cemetery gates seem to beckon him in.

A hot afternoon in May - the first hot day of the year. Get off the noisy street and find some peace among the departed.

A beautiful Victorian cemetery with a long central avenue stretching away up the hill for at least a mile and maybe two. On both sides a sea of granite and marble crosses. Here and there an imposing crypt. Smaller paths veer off from the main tree lined avenue and meander amongst the graves. The birds are singing and the gentlest hint of a summer breeze rustles through the branches of a giant ash. A couple and a lonely singleton come distantly into view but then disappear again like wraiths.

Curtis sits on a bench and takes out his note book. Writing is easy - it is staring at a blank page that is hellish. His characters are alive now. He can see them but he doesn’t yet know their names. It is the thing he finds most difficult, coming up with names. He has even resorted to looking through the telephone directory. It is some kind of mental block. He just can’t come up with names for his characters.

His story idea is a good one. It is a story about a man who is writing a novel - so there is a story within a story, a novel within a novel.

So now all he has to do is write it and he knows he can write it, knows he can do a bloody good job of writing it - if only he can come up with some names! But because he is writing a story about a man writing a story his problem has doubled in size; he now has to find two lots of names!

He stares at the blank sheet of paper and the blank sheet of paper stares back at him.

He is on the verge of tears now. He throws down his notepad and stands and strides over to the nearest gravestone. ‘Here lies Jeremy Middleton, loving husband and father…’ Jeremy Middleton – that’s a good name! He laughs out loud. The answer to his problem is all around him. Names everywhere! In every direction, as far as he can see!

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