The moon struck high over the figure. Only a mile or so off the freeway on an undisturbed plot of land. Here the trees cast pleasant shade in the daylight and the meadow flowers lent constant color right up until the sharpest edge of winter. The rolling hills around it were almost always a pristine green, and it was far enough from the city to smell pastoral. It wasn’t a bad spot to be buried.
It wasn’t a great spot either.
It was far outside the city limits, uninvolved with any cemeteries or care-taking crews… Unattended. Unremarkable. Unmarked without even an urn for flowers to show she was there. It was…lonely looking. For good reason, most likely.
He’d gone to pieces when he’d first laid eyes on it. Of course by then, she had already been interred.
There was nothing to be done about how or where.
The high price of falling ill at an inconvenient time, it seemed.
That was at least a month ago. At least. Time became difficult to track without her there, after all, so he couldn’t really be sure.
Breakfasts were lonely. Then they became lunch. Then lunch became dinner. And then he wondered why even got up at all. So he stopped entirely. The bedroom became his world, his eyelids his very own greenscreen for dreams where life was still normal. Where they were still together. Where they’d gone to Hawaii for their honeymoon rather than Bonaire. Where she’d never gotten sick. Where he’d at least stayed healthy to watch her die. Better yet…where none of this had happened.
Unconsciousness was pleasant.
Waking became more and more like hell.
His body had begun to hurt. His lungs had lost capacity. His face aged and caved at the same rate most grew facial hair. His joints creaked and his body weakened. His mind fuzzed. He lost hours. Days. Maybe weeks.
Rather than counting in time, it was a matter of miseries that had preceeded his arrival back here. Her funeral…had been several thousand agonies ago by his count.
Now it was past midnight and he’d been there torments since he’d arrived. The silver spade plunged again and again into the earth as each grunt and groan betrayed his utter fatigue. Spirals of crimson dripped from the wooden handle onto the dark piles of earth he accumulated on either side of his endeavor, and his fingers snapped and popped with every unruly motion.
His eyes were glazed by the time the moon reflected off the laquer of the luxury coffin the company had bought her in his absence. An utter waste of money… The dead didn’t care about satin linings or gaskets or varnish or paintings under the hood. They were already gone. Moved on.
The bells and whistles were for the living, and without her? In his current state? He wasn’t certain he even qualified any more.
The night broke with a volley of rasping coughs as the figure lurched forward, boney body collapsing at the foot of his own toils.
His brows furrowed as he struggled to remember why it was again he had chosen to come here. The grave was unmarked and the fever dream of his own body’s degeneration was blurring the script of reasoning more and more. Gray fingers stretched outward, missing their mark by a foot as he pawed at the coffin’s surface.
A groan echoed in the grave as he pulled himself downward, ankles buckling beneath his own weight as the hollow surface below him resonated with the impact of his boots. With a wrinkled nose, his fingers left bloodied streaks against the mahogany and curled around the edge of the wood. He exhaled against the smell, one yellowing nail bending back toward his knuckle as he heaved upward against the ‘decay-proof’ gasket of the crate.
His dim eyes widened, lips twitching as he stared into the darkness of the grave… Any question as to why he had come answered in the gaze that awaited him.