Protocols (Returning – 3)

My name is Elias Partridge. I work in the Office of Cemetery Administration. I file forms. I sort out petty squabbles. And I settle disputes over mortal remains.

A letter arrived from a young woman, with a document written by her father. His solicitor had given her. It indicated his desire not to be buried in the family’s plot but in the village church where the young woman’s mother was buried.

I recognised the family name—they were the kind who gave charity balls and maintained influence in high places.

I investigated the woman’s case and found it to be strong. My enquiries uncovered manipulation by the family to protect their pride and hide a love of which they disapproved. The wishes of the dead man and his daughter had been ignored.

I met with the young woman and heard of her parent’s deep affection. She showed me letters he’d written, each with a drawing (sometimes of the woman he’d loved—the mother of the young woman now sitting across my desk).

I am a man of forms and paperwork. But I know justice and beauty too. Love and hate. Though my seniors warned me not to meddle I stamped the document that would rectify the wrong. My name is Elias Partridge. I work in the Office of Cemetery Administration.

2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (


3 thoughts on “Protocols (Returning – 3)

  1. This past weekend I was hiking with my son when we passed the cemetery that had served generations of lighthouse keepers. Mostly infant graves the stones told a story of extremes of love and isolation. Very poignant, scattered among the encroaching bush.

  2. Yes, such experiences can be moving.
    In the region of Canada where I live, it is not unusual to come across a memorial or a grave in the bush that someone is still tending.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s