Each headstone in a cemetery tells a story. Each number, each year, each day that is etched on the surface bares a significant meaning behind it. In the cemetery on East Main Street, near the back, left hand corner of the property is a stone that is particularly catchy to the eye of a visitor to the place. In stark contrast to the old, grey, worn stones and the melancholic statues stands a beautifully polished black headstone in the shape of two hearts. These hearts mark the spot where two life long lovers, friends, and confidantes are buried. Under the dates is inscribed the following quote: Till Death Do Us Part.
The morning of August 27 th, 2007 was grey, dreary, and rather lifeless on this one particular beach along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. There were no kids tossing a frisbee, no health conscious joggers with their canine companions, no young couples flirting on their beach towels in the sand. Such an atmosphere seemed perfect for the old man who was standing on the edge of the pier. His eyes were glazed over with emotion. His expression was of a gentle, melancholic note. A look into his eyes would reveal that this man was no stranger to grief. Though his eyes beheld an expression of sorrow, as he stood staring into the horizon, a smile, however so small and subtle, formed on his face. The old man let his mind wander until it took his thoughts to a happier time in his past.
“Why did you come here, Arthur?” spoke a soft, familiar voice.
The old man’s thoughts were abruptly pulled back into the present reality. He was startled by the voice, as he was not expecting company, especially on the pier on such a dreary day. However, the sudden presence of the voice is not what jarred him the most. It was the familiarity of it.
“Sophie?” the man said, sounding shaken.
“Why did you come here?” the voice repeated.
The man turned to face his company, and the eyes that he found himself looking into were, in fact, the eyes that belonged to the woman that he had suggested; Sophie.
“Sophie, I wasn’t expecting to see you here.”
“But why are you here?”
“I’m just reminiscing. I remember how we met. Do you still remember that, Sophie?”
“It was right here on this pier. We were both twenty two at the time. Our friends introduced us. I was so nervous, and you were so beautiful.”
“Arthur, that memory is just as dear to me as it is to you.”
“Then it was on this same pier, two years later, that we were married. I remember everything about that day. The weather was perfect. The pier and the beach were so energetic and full of life. Not like today. Today is desolate and cold. It’s almost hard for me to imagine that this is the same place that I met you, married you, and spent every wedding anniversary with you. Speaking of which, do you know what day it is?”
“It’s August 27 th, Arthur.”
“I know. That’s the date of our anniversary. You haven’t forgotten that, have you?”
“No. I still remember that. And you have never forgotten it either.”
“Absolutely not. You know, every year on our anniversary I like to come out to this pier. I like to stand on the edge and I like to remember. I like to remember the happiest days of my life.”
“You realize that you’re only torturing yourself.”
“That may be true. But I can’t stop. The first twenty two years of my life are ancient history to me now. I can’t even imagine a time that I functioned properly without you by my side. Four years ago you left me. And there hasn’t been a single moment over the past four years that you weren’t on my mind.”
“Arthur, over the course of those four years I would hope that you have healed.”
At this point, Arthur was overwhelmed with emotion. Tears that he had been attempting to fight back were welling up in his eyes. As he spoke, he choked on each syllable, but he managed to continue his conversation with Sophie.
“Sophie, why did you have to leave me?”
“I couldn’t stay forever, Arthur.”
“I wish you could’ve stayed a little longer.”
“So do I. But the doctors did all that they could do. I wasn’t immortal.”
“I don’t understand why I should have to go on without you.”
“The fact is that there is nothing that you can do to bring me back. I’m gone. And it’s not healthy for you to do this to yourself. Do me a favor, alright? Do yourself a favor.”
“Don’t come back to this pier.”
For the first time during the conversation, Arthur had nothing to say. He simply stared out into the horizon for a few moments. Sophie waited patiently for his affirmation of her suggestion, but he remained silent.
“Arthur?” Sophie said in an attempt to coax the promise from him.
“Hmm?” Arthur responded, as if he didn’t hear her original request.
“Don’t come back to this pier.” she repeated.
Arthur was silent for another moment, then finally granted her the response that she was waiting on.
“Alright. I won’t come back to this pier.”
“You were always a man of your word. As long as I hear you promise me that you won’t come back to this pier again, I will believe you. Do you promise?”
Arthur then turned his gaze back out into the horizon. He simply stood in silence, taking in his surroundings. The pier and the beach were still lonely. This pleased him. His mood fit the scene perfectly, and as somber as such a scene was, he didn’t want anything to ruin it. After a brief period of time, he turned his head back to where Sophie was standing, but she had vanished. Arthur was once again as lonely as he was when he arrived on the pier that morning. He stared down at his feet as a single tear fell from his eye. Then he reached into his pocket and retrieved a revolver.
“Sophie. I am a man of my word. And I promise that I will never come back to this pier again.” he muttered to himself.
In the back, left hand corner of the cemetery on East Main Street, at the location of the black polished headstone in the shape of two hearts, lies a man and a woman. The names on the stone read Arthur Hall and Sophia Hall. Sophia was born on March 14 th, 1931. She died on June 3 rd, 2003. Arthur was born on April 5 th, 1931. He died on August 27 th, 2007; roughly four years after his wife, on the day of their wedding anniversary.
Many verses are etched in stone in that cemetery. But no verse is as haunting as the one inscribed into the headstone of Arthur and Sophia Hall; Till Death Do Us Part.