Digging In The Dirt
Lately I’ve been thinking about flash fiction and the things I’ve written. It dawned on me that much of my work was still on the old blog and I’d like to bring that forward. So, some of you may recall this one, but for others it’s new…
Abby St. John wore her grin like a full-bodied Halloween costume. She was happy and why wouldn’t she be? Clad in an aqua bikini, she sprawled across the beach blanket on her belly and lazily swung her bent legs like a metronome. Beneath the bright, Hawaiian sun she laid with an open, dog-eared collection from her personal hero, Thoreau, in one hand and a margarita on the rocks within reaching distance of the other. The rhythmic, rolling Pacific provided the perfect soothing soundtrack to the day. With several friends surrounding her, this was the perfect getaway vacation to forget about life for awhile. Her smile was the prettiest facade.
While the friends surrounding her had known her for years, they only knew the aspects she carefully chose to share and no two people knew her the same way. Some believed her attraction to Thoreau stemmed from his views on environmentalism and politics. In reality, she simply shared an ardent belief: survival in the face of hostility. Some believed she was a party girl who revelled in the hedonistic. In reality, she rarely, if ever, finished the one drink she ordered and she never succumbed to the illicit. Each friend believed they had the fast-track to her confidence and trust. In reality, they were perpetually snarled in the rush hour traffic of carefully guarded secrets. It was all a beautiful lie.
As she reached to take a small sip from her margarita, each individual muscle in her back, shoulders, and arms screamed out in excruciating agony. She slowly turned away from her friends and winced. She wouldn’t allow anyone to see she was in such pain. They wouldn’t understand. Returning the drink was equally arduous and her thoughts turned to the source of that misery.
Three days earlier she found herself at one o’clock in the morning on the outskirts of a ranch just south of Madison. With a small, powerful flashlight clenched between her teeth and a shovel in her hands, she began cleaving the dense Wisconsin earth. Beside her feet lay the limp, bloody body of a farmer in his early sixties she barely knew. Salt and sweat mixed in tiny, blood-filled rivulets down her face as she rolled the body into the shallow makeshift grave. She couldn’t help herself as she fixated on his satin jacket. The name embroidered on the back promoted a beer and shot tavern called The Pasteur – so named so the local dairy farm community could ply themselves with alcohol without having to lie to their spouses about where they were.
“Where are you headed this afternoon?” they’d say.
“Oh, I need to get out to The Pasteur.” would be the reply before a snicker escaped them. Simple jokes for simple folks.
Panic seizing Abby, she hurriedly heaved dirt over the body and roughly tamped it down. Occasionally the shovel shifted in her hands and the blade sliced into the soil with a resulting scrape of metal on bone. The sound made her gag and retch until the remaining stomach contents lay evicted across the ground.
Abby snapped back to her present and attempted to control her breathing and calm her nerves to keep the margarita where it belonged. As she glanced around at her friends, no one had noticed that her newly acquired tan had gone sallow. No one was the wiser, she was safe, and she began to relax once more.
Thousands of miles away, in the green and grey of a serene Wisconsin dusk, the ground shifted slowly and silently. Blooming from the topsoil came a trembling hand which grew into an arm and finally a torso which collapsed face down upon the ground. The embroidery upon the tattered satin jacket had been hacked and all that was now distinguishable was The Past.