With each shovelful, I uncover a memory.
Like the passion we shared in our first home, and how we whispered to each other under the covers, held each other through the night. All these memories linked together by the same loving thought: I will never let you go.
As the ground becomes eye-level, a sob slips past my lips.
Both sweat and tears fall to the dirt, and I wonder which I’m seeing darken the soil below – the labor or the torture?
I wipe the mixture of salty excretions from my face and rest on the handle.
After considering the night sky, I think of your laugh. In fact, your laugh haunts me now in a way that’s unbearable. Something so beautiful I could never live without now won’t let me live.
I jump on the foot treads of the shovel, and hear that hollow sound I knew would come, the same hollow sound I heard inside of me at the news of your death.
I clear the surface as fast as I can, so I don’t balk, and slip the end of the crowbar between the tightly pressed wood, lifting the top half. A strange blast of dead air crashes into my face and I almost retch at the scent.
My fingers fumble to get a grip on the gun my father left us. How many times had I checked the chamber before pushing the shovel’s blade into the soil?
The moon offers enough light for me to see you. The fluids they used to keep you looking alive have collected at the lowest point of your body, and the leather that’s replaced your face is pulled tight.
I reach down and grab your cold, lifeless hand. Your body doesn’t want to move, so I lean in closer.
Lifting my arm, I breathe through my mouth to help from losing my stomach, draw back the hammer so the chamber can align with the barrel, and whisper the last words that will ever cross my lips: “I will never let you go.”