A Grave Matter
"I got the job, Dad. I came here to tell her about it."
Dad gave her a hug. "Of course. She's part of the family."
They turned to go. As a small child Lucy had asked him what the mound in the field was, and why the tractors always went round it.
"It's Celtic barrow. A grave for an important person." Lucy knew about graves because of visiting Nana in the peaceful churchyard. She named the person in their barrow Izzy. As the summers passed, she sprawled in the grass that covered the burial chamber, and confided her secrets to Izzy.
She imagined Izzy no older than herself, asleep in the comforting dark, surrounded by homely belongings. Lucy kept her most treasured possession on her windowsill, a shard of Celtic pottery she had found in a newly ploughed field.
Dad told her more about the Parisi tribe. Hundreds of years before the Romans conquered England, the Celtic Parisi arrived from France, settling in the chalk uplands that edged the vale of York and the wetlands that stretched east to the sea.
One day Dad said, "When I'm out here on my own, I feel them keeping me company."
"Like ghosts, you mean?"
He ruffled her hair. "Nothing so dramatic, petal. They farmed here, just like me and your mum. Their kids helped with the harvest, like you and Tom. They probably grew wheat too." He gestured at the rippling hills that surrounded the village. "The Romans called this the breadbasket of the north."
"Did they eat sandwiches like we do?"
Dad considered. "I don't know. Maybe. People will always need to eat, so someone will farm this land in a thousand years' time. Someone will take a photo from the air and see the outline of our farmhouse. That means you and me, and Mum, and Tom, we'll still be here, keeping our descendants company."
"So I'll be like Izzy?"
"I reckon so, pet."
Madeleine McDonald is a Scot with a French passport. She plunders family life for light-hearted newspaper columns, and writes romance novels. Her third novel, A Shackled Inheritance, set in the turbulent years leading to Britain's abolition of slavery, was recently published by The Wild Rose Press and is available at www.amzn.com/dp/B01BBCBX38.