Harriet and Abraham (short fiction)

They dug him up a week after he died. People were still watching his grave, and that might have been a problem if he’d been buried there. But while no one was looking, a complicated shell game took place, and the corpse of the most famous dead man in America was shuffled off. Then he was buried in a sacred and sacrilegious location where magic lived and things happened that never should.

And then they dug him up.

His flesh was pale. His eyes hollow. A few bugs crawled in his beard, but Harriet had seen worse corpses rising from the dead. He wasn’t screaming. That was always nice. It was a good sign.

“Why aren’t I dead?” he asked.

Jacob helped the newly risen Abraham to his feet.

“Some folks are too important to die,” said Harriet.

“There’s a lot of work left to do,” said Jacob.

“I thought I was through.” Abraham rubbed his head, feeling for the bullet hole that had ended his life. His previous life. “I thought it was over. No, I prayed it was.”

“It’s never over,” said Harriet.

“Why me?” he asked. “Haven’t I given enough?”

“You know you haven’t,” she replied. “And you’re not the kind of man who would allow himself to believe otherwise.”

Abraham sighed, wiping the dust from his lapel. “I presume you are right, but I do wish it was otherwise.”

“We all do. You’ll rest, sir. One of these days, you’ll lay your head down for good. But not this day. In the meantime, you’ll carry on. Like we all do. And you’ll fight for as long as there is fight in you. And there’s fight in you because the magic here wouldn’t have worked if there wasn’t.”

Abraham measured Harriet silently. “And you? Are you . . . like me?”

“No, sir. Still on my first life,” she said with a smile. “Though there were times I thought it was over.”

He said, “I’m sorry I didn’t do more.”

“There’s always more to do,” she replied. “We fight on. With every breath we have. And for some of us, beyond. We might never win, but as long as we haven’t stopped fighting, we haven’t lost either.”

Abraham laughed. “You’re a most stubborn woman, I can see.”

“Stubborn as I need to be,” she replied.

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