The shovel’s edge broke scattered twigs at it was forced
into the earth. With a leaden arm, the man threw the dirt over his shoulder and
gritted his teeth to stop himself from trembling. He forced the spade into the
ground once more and heaved the soil over his shoulder. Thunder rolled on the
far horizon, a flash of lightning burned through the night. All at once the
heavens began to cry, and the rain fell from the skies as stinging bullets of
ice. The man’s own tears dripped down his aged face, disappearing into the grey
bristles that marked them. Again and again, the shovel attacked the earth, each
time digging a little deeper into the ground. Although his arms burned and
begged him to stop, he could not let his task remain unfinished, and so bore
the pain as he continued to shovel like an automaton. Throwing his tool aside,
he climbed from the dank earth, smelling both fresh and decayed. Two graves lay
waiting, lonely and deep, friends to one another.
The man returned to his car, the beams of light piercing
through the night that shrouded him, and from the backseat, he lifted a bag in
both arms. He returned to the place he had readied and with utmost reverence, laid
the body upon the ground. He unzipped the top of it, and a woman, fair of
complexion and gentle of countenance lay there, resting. The rain washed the
blood from her lips, and with infinite care, he bent down to kiss her. He
stroked her hair, his great sobs finally retching from his body and cutting
through the night. At last, he could bear it no longer, and zipped the bag up,
turning his head away. He threw her into the grave he had dug and began to pile
the dirt over her. Fatigue made his work slow, but he would not let his body
rest until he had lain to rest her body.
He returned to the car for a second time, and this time the bag he returned
with was only half his size. He opened it, and his son slept before him, his
lips apart slightly as if to breathe. The man closed them gently and ran his
fingers through the blonde hair of his only child. His miracle child that had
brought so much hope and love and promise into his life. The night wind bit
through the man’s soaked clothes, and with shaking fingers, he closed the bag
and climbed with it into the second grave. No words could capture what his soul
longed to cry, and so he sat there as the heavens bore down relentlessly,
wishing it were he who were to be entombed. A timeless age passed until the man
rose to his feet and pulled himself from the sepulcher, taking up his shovel.
He gasped in what oxygen he could to fuel his body as he threw dirt into the grave.
When at last, his toils were done, he took a faded photograph from his pocket.
A woman with raven hair smiled shyly at the photographer, and in her arms held
a sleeping infant, golden wisps just visible. He did not know how long he
stared at the photo, unmoving and impassive. When at last he closed his eyes,
he knelt to the floor and searched blindly for a twig. Finding one, he pierced
the image and nailed it to the ground between the graves.
"Mother and son, united forever," read the caption.
Slowly, the man turned his eyes upwards where the stars cried for his crying
"Agony!" he longed to scream to the empty skies, but no sounds would
escape his lips except his broken sobs. He crumbled to the ground and curled
up, sobbing for his loved ones, lost. With their lives they took his future,
and so his toils complete, he lay down beside them and waited for his death.