Little Chapel of Wronged Women

You read the travel brochure in the truck stop display: twenty miles off I-82, just past Paducah, east of St. Ivanson’s, stands the little chapel with a red roof and the graveyard full of ghosts.

There, the brochure says, visitors will find more than plenty weeping widows and hanged maidens and brides murdered on their wedding night. More than anyone could need. For the more intrepid connoisseurs there’s a few wailing adulteresses, headless maids, bloody schoolmistresses. The brochure tells you to watch among the headstones for signs of the melancholy fiancé, the dejected debutante, the tearful opera singer, the despondent niece. Look closely and you’ll find graves for the dismembered administrator, the gutted fishmonger, the assassinated scholar. If you’re lucky, the brochure says, you might catch sight of the rarer phantoms: the spider-legged crone, the tall ones, the mother of eyes.

Stop for the night and throw breadcrumbs about the graves, the brochure says. Watch the ghosts scramble.

Don’t turn your back on them, the brochure says.

Stop for lunch or put your feet up at the nearby Manor House museum-hotel. There’s a summer beer garden and corn-hole tournaments every weekend. Make time for the annual Little Chapel Lilac Festival in the Spring! Lodging includes brunch and easter egg hunts for the kids.

You stare at the photos in the brochure. A crooked little church with a red roof. Figures among the graves, shadowed. Children stooped over to scoop into their baskets little things they’ve found scattered about the earth: plastic eggs, flowers, pebbles and lost teeth, bits of stray bones.

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