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brigits_flame entry
Prompt:
Digging
Word Count: 1,184

Digging


I started digging with a new spade, bought for the task. Long handled, the metal glinted brightly like silver; the sharp edges sparkled like diamonds. The plastic handle moulded uncomfortably to my hands as I dug, chafing my skin with the promise of blisters and calluses to come. I stopped and lent on the handle. It was no good. My tool slowed me down and kept me detached and distant from the ground I worked. It was too new. I could have perhaps have tolerated an aging, rust-laden implement but the stark newness of the metal and the unscuffed gloss of the plastic disturbed me. It felt wrong. I cast aside the spade and sank to my knees. The ground was slightly wet from the recent rain, not sodden but enough to mean that when I rose I would have ugly damp stains on my knees. The moisture in the earth was enough to mean that I could use my bare hands to dig in the ground. The soil crumbled through my fingers, staining my skin like blood as I dug. I massaged the dirt into my hands enjoying the feel of mud between my fingers, watching the particles collect under my nails and pick out lines on my palms.

There is something seductive about the earth, something sensual in the process of digging with bare hands. I was glad I’d ditched my built for purpose tool. This was fitting, me on my hands and knees, digging and clawing at the ground almost feverishly, far more so than the image I’d had of calmly digging this hole. My fingers were no match for the sharp edge of a bright, shiny spade and yet the hole grew. I worked until I felt my shoulder muscles start to burn with the effort. I was hunched over, my forehead practically scraping the ground, scraping away at the earth like an animal. I leant back, straightening my spine and stretching my cramping muscles. The hole was a hand width wide and as deep as my forearm, good enough for my task. I glanced at the sky, momentarily blinding myself with the sunlight. Green and purple shadows of the sun swam before my eyes as I reached into my bag for the package. It crunched under my dirt-stained fingers as I grasped it. A parcel crudely wrapped in tin foil, about the size of my hand. I placed it carefully by the side of the hole as if it were some ancient relic easily damaged by careless hands.

I sat for what felt like an age, willing myself to reach out and unwrap my treasure. My skin crackled with electricity as I fondled the rough edges of the foil. I inhaled deeply and held my breath as I carefully revealed the contents. Your belongings glinted back at me in the bright sunshine. Your gold St. Christopher on its delicate chain sparkled in the sun. I held it up to the light and spun the pendant losing myself in the patterns created by the spinning disc of gold. I stopped it with my lips, the metal cool despite the heat of the day, before placing it reverently in the hole. Next I reached for your earring, a single hoop of pale silver wide enough to fit on the tip of my tongue. I polished the metal with my fingers before laying it next to your necklace in the dirt. I looked back at my tin foil package. Three items remained. The pen your father gave you when you graduated, a feeble consolation for years of indifference; the battered notebook you used to write in when you still felt you had something to say and finally, glinting in the light the spare keys to your first motorbike, lovingly restored but barely ridden. I laid each item in the hole with care before leaning back and admiring my work. The final touch was to lay a cotton handkerchief over your possessions.

I sighed as I threw the first handful of dirt on to your things, realising for the first time that I had barely been breathing. Slowly the shroud of the handkerchief became harder to see as the dark soil buried your possessions. When my hole was filled I spent a few moments painstakingly concealing the scar of freshly turned earth with roots and grasses. There was no need to mark the spot like some modern day pirate, no need for a map to be drawn. I will remember this spot, be drawn to it by your belongings, whenever I need to be. I rose from the ground, muscles complaining bitterly, first at the exertion and then at the period of inactivity whilst I buried my loot. I brushed the worst of the dirt from my clothes and hands and retrieved my ineffective spade. With a lingering glance back at the grave of your possessions I headed for home.

The kitchen was deserted when I got home but warm and welcoming. The brightness of the day was beginning to fade from the sky as I silently crept into the house. I stowed my spade at the back of the coat cupboard and stripped down to my underwear, bundling my dirty, mud-stained clothing into the washer. The kitchen was warm enough that I could comfortably wash my stained hands without dashing for clean clothing. I scrubbed at my skin and nails watching the colour change from earthy brown to scoured pink. I was drying my tender hands when you walked in, whistling contentedly. You stopped when you saw my state of undress. "Darling", you said with a half smile, "Is there a reason you’re half naked in the kitchen?" You wrapped your arms round me, strong and warm. I shrugged. "I got dirty." You released me from your embrace, careful not to ask too many questions. I am grateful that you let me be.

Later, over dinner, you seemed uncomfortable. I was relaxed, a weight lifted, a need satisfied. You looked vulnerable, smaller. You brushed your dark hair out of your eyes, a fruitless task as it always just falls back again making you seem even more fragile and unsure. "Sarah?" I looked up from my food. "Do you, ah, I mean, have you, um, seen my St. Christopher?" You stumbled over your words, unsure whether you wanted to know the answer. I looked straight into your eyes, able to keep my gaze steady but unable to stop the treacherous blushes begin to taint my ears and cheek. "No, I haven’t, sorry," I lied, my voice even and steady. Your eyes narrowed, scanning my face for deceit and coming to your own silent conclusions. "Ok," you said calmly, keeping your own voice level, "I must have misplaced it then." I returned to my meal aware of your eyes, dark eyes, half hidden behind darker hair, on me while I ate. You are on to me, starting to see me for who and what I am. One day I’ll explain and maybe you’ll understand, but not now. For now we rest in uneasy peace.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
gethrees
Apr. 5th, 2009 01:02 pm (UTC)
I understand what you were saying on f-back now about not understanding what your character was doing. I am completely intrigued - well done (although you may want to change "whole" to "hole"). I was thinking up until the end however, whether this was a real experience (for you) or made up, I guess that also compliments the richness of your description!
lenina101
Apr. 5th, 2009 01:08 pm (UTC)
I think she's certainly a character I'd like to re-visit to explore her motivation. Thanks for the edit heads-up. The curse of proof-reading your own stuff!

I do feel I should state for the record that I have never buried anyone's belongings :)

Thanks for your comment. How are you doing?
terravayne
Apr. 6th, 2009 02:51 am (UTC)
Your descriptions were wonderful and it transported me into the mind of this character you've created. I admit to being confused as to why she was burying these things, though. Still, very well-written!
lenina101
Apr. 6th, 2009 10:38 am (UTC)
Thank you. I confess I don't know why she's burying things either, she hasn't revealed that information to me yet. She's someone I will probably revisit at some point in the future.
cumbrianheart
Apr. 6th, 2009 11:13 am (UTC)
I love the descriptiveness of this piece. I don't think we need to know the whys right now. I'm not even sure she does.

nebula_sprout
Apr. 9th, 2009 01:07 am (UTC)
Vivid imagery, from the feel of dirt to the way you get stains on your knees when the ground is wet. I really quite liked this piece. Keep up the good work, yo.
ceburaskas
Dec. 20th, 2009 11:08 am (UTC)
Happy Birthday!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )