Tomb is this week’s prompt from KL Caley at New2Writing.com. I must admit, from the picture below, I wondered whether this was also part of the arch complex. But if it is, that was nowhere near East Anglia–those look like Scottish houses in the background!

solitary tomb

I was playing about with a title, and came up with Solitary Tomb. That reminded me of a quote from a book in which a captured lady quoted something like ‘sealed in my solitary gloom’ which gave a clue to the hero as to where to find her… ah yes, it was a Sharpe novel! And Harris, as always, recognises the literary quote, and tells him she’s in the monastery. I wish I hadn’t given my Sharpe collection to my niece, so I could look things up! It might be Sharpe’s Enemy. My story is around 700 words.

I’m looking for people to join a cover reveal for Zanzibar’s Rings – late November or early December. If you’d like to reveal my latest book’s cover (it’s out next February), please say so in the comments, or email me.

Solitary Tomb

“Oh, look at this, isn’t it wonderful?  I can just see it at the centre of the western walkway, filled with plants and flowers dangling down the sides. Frank?  Don’t you think?”

“Whatever you say, honey. I don’t expect it’s for sale, though.”

“Oh, everything’s for sale, if you find the right price. You always say that, don’t you?” She cuddled his arm for an instant before waltzing away through the garden as it unfolded before her.

Frank followed, eying the ruined buildings around them. He paused, scrutinising the inscriptions on the sides of the rectangular stone planter his wife extolled.

Definitely not a planter. A tomb of some sort, now open to the air, body gone probably centuries before. But still, what Margi wanted, Margi got.

They’d already visited the church where her ancestors had worshipped, before they’d emigrated to the new world. What had it been like for them here? They wouldn’t have lived in a place like this, surely. Derelict stone buildings with good strong architecture, a solitary tomb with inscriptions that seemed to tell of battles, probably successful ones. 

The panels at the information centre had told a story that echoed in every place they’d visited, all over the Highlands. He’d only skipped over the ones here. Margi had seen another name that meant something to her, so they’d stopped. It was a nice place, though. Well kept.

“Have you asked anyone yet?” Margi was back.

“Are you serious about this thing? It’ll cost a fortune to ship.”

“Oh, pash, just get someone to pack it and ship it, leave them the problem. Yes, I think it’s just what that border needs. Perfect in every way. In fact…” Margi gazed around. “This whole place is perfect. If only we could just lift it up and set it down in the back-acre. It would fit in there, wouldn’t it?”

“I thought you were going to raise horses in the back-acre?”

“I can still raise horses. They can graze around the buildings, keep the grass down. C’mon Frank. Have a little imagination. Yes, I want it.” 

Her firm final note released Frank’s doubts. Margi was prone to fancies, but would always imagine, dream, fantasise, and then drift off unless she really meant something. 

“Shall we stay the night in that quaint hotel then, make inquiries and set up a meeting with whoever owns it tomorrow?” Frank asked.

“Can you get a lead or two now and then we’ll get back to the country club? You know you work better with a good desk, a phone and an internet connection.”

Frank nodded, relieved he didn’t have to endure lumpy beds and creaky floorboards, which was what the local hotel promised, if lunch there had been a foretaste.

Two days later, Frank had not succeeded in buying either the tomb or the entire site. Archaeology Scotland, who ran the site, had kicked up an almighty fuss, reporting their third offer to Scottish Heritage, but finally put them onto the agent. The agent for the local landowner had said his client would certainly not sell, even for a million dollars.

“Honey? Do you think more than a million is a reasonable price? There’s still removal, shipping, and installation to consider.”

“It’s absurd that they are resisting. I really want that tomb, and the rest. The more they resist, the more I want it!”

Their trip came to an end, but Margi’s grumbles did not. Frank phoned, texted, emailed and even zoomed with the agent or one of several civil servants to discuss his offer, and raise his price. 

Finally, twelve weeks after they’d seen the site, the agent called with a suggestion.

“His Royal Highness appreciates your interest in the site of his many-great-grandfather’s tomb, and wondered whether you would prefer to sponsor it in situ, and build a replica on your own property.”

“Let me get back to you.” Frank stared at the phone. “Margi!”

Two years later, Margi opened her new Scottish garden to all her friends at their annual celebration. Pride of place was the framed letter of thanks and good wishes from the heir to the British throne, ‘To Margi and Frank’, and signed by him, personally.

© J M Pett 2021

Next Monday I’ll be away in the Peak District, and I doubt I’ll have time to write to Thursday’s prompt unless I think it up on the drive north. But I’ve got a book promotion with a special recipe for you all lined up instead!

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The Solitary Tomb | #writephoto Flash Fiction
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