Published the 21st of October 2014, this short story was born like many of my stories within the midst of a nightmare. I remember still vividly hearing some chilling noises, some eerie music, sad laughter, stuck in the darkness of a long box. I pushed the door open to realise that I was in my coffin. A cowardly glance outside revealed a hilly cemetery, a moonlight night and other corpses rising from their graves, some dragging others to do so. I was freaked enough at the sight to lay back in the safe darkness, thinking that it must be a bad dream and that it will all pass. But someone saw me, someone recognised me, called my name out loud and opened my coffin lid wide open. In front of that half decomposed cadaver, my heart seemed to fail to beat any longer. I closed my eyes of fright and I woke up in my bed safe and well. I was not exposed in a coffin, exhibited to other dead people, I was in my bedroom with for only witness, my black cat Mystic blinking her yellow eyes at me peacefully from the other pillow.
That morning, still haunted by the dream, my mind went on overdrive with the what if I had followed that corpse calling my name who I recognised as someone that passed away. It felt like being ‘Ebenezer Scrooge’ visited by ghosts. Drawing on Charles Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’, I set out to write ‘Hair Rising, Heir Raising, Erasing’.
Abraham Wilton-Cough was born proudly that day in a coffin and on paper. I must admit that the day I wrote his last expiring lines, I cried. One can call him an anti-hero, easily. That character took my place in that cemetery and went into the journey I did not take myself. I often do that (Clementine Boatswain is another creation resulting of steps I did not do). Abraham had to live that unbearable sense of exposure I endured for a split second for the length of the story.
A. It disturbed me greatly. I would sing out loud I am free from faults and crimes and swear it on any ready holy book of any kind. Proudly, I would stand my ground then say I have done no wrong. You may not be a broad day light criminal, or a night one, a rapist, a thief or whatever big crime implies, hopefully not a brain washed terrorist, but whatever we say or swear, we all have the niggling mistakes that will keep you awake at night. We may ignore them or not even see them, depending on how pride cover your eyes. After that dream, I questioned myself deep down, why did I feel that bad? Being a good individual, I went to dig any dirts I may have made: Mum is ignoring me for seven years, I will do likewise after failing to reach her out many times. To the day, our relationship is still a thin thread ready to break up at anytime for long periods. Can we afford it? With only one life to live? What is the damages on her side and mine? I resolved that my unease was all about what I took for granted like a family. How we are dealing with one another is most important for all involved. I wanted Abraham Wilton-Cough to carry that essential message.
B. Although Abraham is passing away at the end of the story, he has been given that chance to realise what were his mistakes. It took the removal of his great pride where one feels comfortably always right and all others are obviously so wrong. It took a journey from grave to grave. It took a feverish nightmare at the end of his own life’s journey. Able to rectify, do some erasing of his past mistakes for a few minutes, Wilton-Cough did so with a heart warming humbleness and the remaining of his heroic proud guts that were shot hours earlier protecting his customers.
The structure of the story is made of three parts flowing together forming the complete journey of Abraham Wilton-Cough which follows the rhythm of the title. First comes the ‘Hair Rising’ where the hero faces the fact that he is a rising dead in the town cemetery. Disturbingly as there are other walking dead, the realisation that it may be a judgement night, an apocalypse of some sort unsettles the character. His guide, Amelia Bates, is the individual that bothers his conscience, the widow which he made pregnant. She is the one that walks him from grave to grave to face the music, his heirs, and errors in the second part, the heart of the story, the ‘Heir Raising’. Finally he meets his last conception, a child which defies all his preconceptions being an Angel. She gives back to the wondering and wandering spirit of Abraham the consciousness he needs to put some things to right prior to his imminent death. On his death bed, lay Wilton-Cough doing all the erasing he can, in the third and last past of the novel, ‘the Erasing’.