Hmm… the post about Mummies had me thinking…
The Egyptians prepared bodies for passage into the next ‘life’ and left monuments and tombs to protect the bodies of their departed.
What of other departings?
What is left to mark their passage?
Why am I even talking about this… on a site about writing Steampunk?
Characters live and die in our stories, but how are they remembered? What marks their passage from one world into the next?
Alexander Cartwright, who some consider to be the Father of Baseball, was buried in Hawaii (see, you knew I’d get Hawaii in here somehow). Visiting his grave at Oahu Cemetery, you’re likely to find baseballs, gloves, and sometimes bottles of beer. All from athletes and fans hoping for a good season or a strong and accurate arm.
Military graves have been decorated with coins and research online has uncovered a number of ‘guides’ on what denomination of coin to leave behind to show your proper respect to those heroes that served their country.
Benjamin Franklin’s grave in Philadelphia can be found easily on the grounds of Christ Church. Just look for the large slab dotted with pennies. Why such a coin? No, it’s not for the face on the coin, we all know that’s not Ben’s claim to fame… it’s for one of his adages. “A Penny Saved…” goes a long way, even though it doesn’t provide a lot of revenue for the church and historic graveyard.
A Ballerina’s grave in France is covered in heaps of shoes that are linked to her talent. Flat shoes and pointe shoes are left to weather the time on her grave. Perhaps there are young ballerinas hoping for divine inspiration… or merely to dance away the pain in their feet. Who knows what it is they think they will gain from leaving their shoes behind for the deceased dancer?
My final example comes from North Carolina. I visited a dear friend that lived in NC and she took me to a National Park near her home. There, at Kings Mountain Park, along the hiking trail, is the grave of Col. Patrick Ferguson. An officer in the British Army, he made it his duty to secure the mountains for King and Country… the only problem was, he didn’t have a problem killing anyone in his way.
When the local settlements rose up against the British forces, they killed Col Ferguson. My friend noted that the stones piled up on the grave is not something to mark the death or honor the soldier. She tells me that the local mythos explains that each stone helps to ‘pin him’ to the grave.
So, what will your characters be remembered for?
What tokens will be left at their graves by generations to come?
Will their visitors seek otherworldly council or hope to prove that the deceased is still encased in stone and no longer a threat?
Is this a place of peace and hope? Or do those familiar with the area leave before darkness falls?
What is their story?