Short Story: Kept On Digging

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It’s often easy to tell the difference between an accidental crash and the shattering that occurs with the force of anger behind it. Looking up from my yard, with the sound still reverberating in my mind, my innate curiosity overcame me. Just across the way there, the mobile home tucked haphazardly amongst the rest — a stillness had fallen over the place that seemed quite different from the others, from mine. A slick feeling of sickness was already creeping into my gut, and I found myself pushing the sensation down into that place of denial. My imagination gets away from me sometimes… 

I let the shovel in my hand fall with a thud to the ground as I stalked back into my identical home. Early morning gardening had turned filthy. I looked down leaning into the sink, the hot water pouring forth, burning the shit out of my skin. I reveled in that sensation of pain. I continued to let the water burn me, my mind focused only on the searing ache. The clock hanging above the window was ticking away any need for relief. I felt nothing.

My other hand shot to the faucet knob and the rushing water ceased. I placed my burning skin against one cheek and let the warmth seep into the rest of me as I walked to the sliding glass door at the other end of my small setup. The house across the way continued seemingly unagitated and I grunted at my boredom before moving back to my desk.

It was only once I reached my seat, that the wailing started to creep up from my toes, skittering up my spine, a horrible sound, so guttural and hopeless. The sickness was back. It was as if the sound was in my head, in my heart, and bubbling its way back down into my guts. I gagged at it, the heave building from a dark place in my abdomen, and I stumbled to my bathroom with my hand covering my mouth.

The toilet flushing erased the memories of why I sat leaning against my porcelain throne with bile rising in my throat. But I was once again reminded by that incessant moan. I shuddered and crawled on my hands and knees to look back at that house again. My heart picked up speed when I saw a subtle movement behind the curtains. I loosed a breath before hopping to my feet and running toward the house. It was less than 100 paces it took to be in his yard and I felt more painful insecurities blossoming in my chest as I doubted my intentions.

My recently burned hand stood at the ready, poised for a knock but I was seized up by the stillness of the house. That was the only explanation for my inability to move. Or maybe it was that continued wail. Was that coming from inside? My fist fell toward the door, but instead of landing with a knock, it seemed to push against it gently, and the door fell open.

I gagged once more, the gurgling sickness inside me. Or was it the smell of the place? I couldn’t tell anymore. I was losing a grip on reality because of the fear dancing around inside my skull. I was struggling to remember how I had gotten inside this house, how I had managed to meet this damning smell, that overwhelming hatred in my stomach bubbling its distaste. Isn’t this what you wanted?!

I remembered being here. I could recall the way to his bedroom so I continued on, letting that smell swallow me whole. It was all around me. I could feel the particles of this odor entering every pore of my skin as I crept to the back room. The bedroom was similar to mine. The mattress was the same size. I pondered the possibility that I was back in my own home — that all of these nightmarish happenings were inside my head only.

But he was there, still handcuffed to the radiator, his blood pooling below him, a subtle twitch to his recently emptied form. I could still see the pink of the skin of his cheeks. The redness of a blush that hadn’t left him yet. His eyes were blindfolded, his lips carved from his handsome features. My first thought was to look for them. As if that missing puzzle piece could turn back time — as if I could put that beautiful face back together again. I heaved again, this time letting small amounts of bile pile on the floor in front of me.

We had been so utterly similar. A match made in heaven some might say. Now, why had I gone and done this?

I was crying, the tears falling in rivulets to join the contents of my stomach on the floor. The feeling of pain in my heart was crushing me and I willed it to stop, I begged it to leave me. And with that, a roiling giggle erupted from that place. And I laughed so hard I thought I might pass out and fall to the ground with the body of a person I barely knew. Barely knew? 

My mind was screaming at me. Get out! Go back to what you were doing!

I kept alternating from a giggle to a gasping sob, and I crawled away from that bright, brilliant carnage, dragging my body toward the outside, toward the sun, toward healing, and more fresh air. I closed the door behind me, letting the stillness of everything fall back into place there. As I walked across the street, letting those 100 paces fall away behind me once more, I already started to feel so much better. I would be okay. I felt it in my bones. I just need to get back to what I was doing. What the hell had I been doing? 

I walked back to my yard, trudging further back behind my house and out of sight, the other end of the yard was met by darkened forest. I listened to the whistle of warblers and watched a colorful moth flit its wings against the sun. I let my gaze fall to the hole in the ground. I realized now it was much bigger than I had realized. I walked back to the shovel that lay almost as still as the house across the way. It felt like safety when I picked it up — the wooden handle creating a sense of purpose in me.

I was almost done. 

The crunch of metal entering the earth filled my ears, and I kept on digging.


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