The dig

Is it possible to fall asleep while you’re digging a hole? I guess it is. I heard the sharp click of a Zippo lighter and I came back to the now.

Kincaid was leaning against a pine tree, firing up a smoke. The glow of the flame shone on his face and it was a wet mess. His hair was matted to his head like he’d just been caught in a heavy rain. I was about to call him out for being lazy, until I saw his eyes. They looked like melting wax.

He dug about a third of what I’d finished, and I noticed a lot of the dirt he pulled out had sifted back into the hole. Before he snapped the lighter shut, I saw his throat was caked with mud.

I don’t know if I can finish this, Henry, he said. Lord, the amount of dirt it takes to bury a man.

I leaned on my shovel. I didn’t know what to say. You never think a thing is going to be so hard until you start doing it. Then, it just gets harder. I looked at my watch and saw it was twenty to four. It felt like time was sliding by like grease down a drain. We couldn’t afford to take too many breaks, but of course we had to. We were men, not machines, though I wondered about Kincaid. I couldn’t read anything on his face other than exhaustion.

Copyright 2014


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