The Paw Print

The Paw Print

The Paw Print

Short Story: Speech Patterns of A Grave


“There aren’t enough benches here”, The boy pouted. He found it strange that a place with such a large population couldn’t accommodate with a large number of benches.

Sitting next to him, on the soft dew ridden grass was a man; an older man, perhaps the boy’s guardian. “There is little need,” The man explained, “It’s not often people stay long enough to rest.”

The trees surrounding the two rustled and waved in the wind–the boy decided it was calming. He shuffled slightly, twisting his arms to better suit his comfort; the bench he’d sprawled across had left a numb feeling on his back–perhaps from the cold. He began swinging his arm off the bench, back and forth with the swaying trees. Back and forth, back and forth. “I don’t understand.” The boy sighed, “If they sleep here, why don’t they wake up here?”

The man did not respond. He simply smiled at the young boy.

“There aren’t enough benches here, that’s why.”

The boy arose from his seat– he began pacing steadily around each grave, tracing the names inscribed on each headstone. They had been damp and brittle; not taken care of. The boy leaned close to a particularly mucky grave and began picking softly at the moss, “Who stays and cleans? Someone must do it.”

“Oh I haven’t seen him in years.” The man responded.

“But is there someone?” Asked the boy, returning to his place on the bench.

“Sure. He simply hasn’t been here in some time.”

“It’s because there aren’t enough benches!” The boy shouted.

“Perhaps–but maybe, you are the only one who needs one.” The man’s smile dropped slightly, he stared at the grave across from him; the one the boy had been picking at. “Why do you come here so often?”

The boy shrugged. In complete honesty, he had no reason to be there–he simply liked the company. The boy sat in silence for a moment, glaring at the graveyards soiled composure. “I could do it.” smiled the boy.


“I could clean the graves!” The boy shot up in excitement. “Oh it’s wonderful! I could be here every day, sir!”

The man laughed a hollow, chilly laugh. “Quite the imagination, you tend to it young man–a child’s imagination is one of the purest forms of creation.”

The boy’s imagination crafted reality; he stayed true, pursuing his goal until he landed a job as the graveyard caretaker. He would tend to the graves for years to come–peeling moss and dirt from every crack, scrubbing each inscription. He added special care to the grave he sat across as a kid; as it belonged to an old friend.

He continued this until the boy turned to a man, and on his last visit, he sat at a bench. Not the cold bench he’d claimed as a child, no. He sat at the bench next to it; the one he’d built a year prior, as a gift to the graveyard.

A familiar face sat on the grass next to the man.

“You made more benches.” He spoke softly, with a kind cadence.

“Can the dead not sit on benches?” The man asked.

“No, we can’t” The familiar face said.

“You could have told me that when I was a boy”

“Ah, but your imagination was gorgeous, why would I stunt that?” The ghost let out a cool laugh, “And now I have two benches that could be filled with new boys; like you, whose imagination thrills to take them places.”

The man grinned at his old friend, packed his belongings, and began his descent out of the graveyard.

“Thank you!”, the ghost shouted from behind.

“For what?” The man turned back, but he no longer saw his friend. Instead, he saw the fog infested trees sway in the breeze, leaves fall on the dewy grass, and two benches– sitting alone near the grave of a ghost he once knew.

As the man closed the gates of the graveyard one final time, he heard a soft whisper from a location he could not quite place.

Thank you, for cleaning my home and keeping me company, kiddo.”


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About the Contributor
Oliver Stoltz
Oliver Stoltz, Staff Writer
Oliver is a Junior at Heritage, this is his first year in Journalism. He transferred from THS and is very excited to start at a new school. When he is not writing he listens to music, watches movies, and works as a barista. Oliver is very excited to write articles for the Paw Print as he connects with the HHS 25' class!