How to Bury Your Lover
First, you will need a shovel. The size and form of the hole will be subconsciously determined by the types of feelings you still have for her, lying secret in your heart. If you still love her and respect her, it will be big and deep, well-shaped, even, neat. The bottom will be level, so she lies flat. You will cross her arms, kiss her knuckles. Close her eyes. Other holes are made hastily, earth crumbling into them, falling into the darkness of the grave to make her pillow. I know those types of holes well.
At any rate, the digging is the easy part. In certain ways, you began digging it as soon as you first saw her; she smiled at you, you began speaking, and sometime later, a week, an hour, years, your lips met and it was soft and kind and already you were forming the hole for her. And she, for you. So you have had time. And when the end comes, it comes in bright colors and garish noise, and you dig on pure adrenaline, scooping out wet dirt and tossing it wildly to the jungle of tombs surrounding your latest work. Lower her in, or dump her in, or kick her in. No matter how you do it, you will feel empty afterward. Now the hardest part: filling the grave. No coffins are allowed, nor are any type of protective layer. You must make her dirty. You owe it to her to sully her, and when you’ve filled the hole to the brim, you must slam the shovel down into the earth like you are trying to crush diamonds or memories or hearts.
I tell you these things because you have come across me digging tonight. It is a private act you have caught me committing. If I had heard you coming, I would have run, hidden behind another grave or a tree, or jumped the fence and never turned back. And then where would I be? Once the hole has been created, it must be used. So let us stand here and survey my work. You see its shape is perfect, almost artful. You see the earth is soft here, not for my comfort but for hers. She is an angel I never deserved. What an affront to the heart it is to destroy something not because it is not good enough for you, but because it is too good for you. I am going to lie down now. I am going to close my own eyes. I am going to think of her. I am going to wait for the moon to go away. I am going to ask you to fill this hole for me.
When I was a boy I had a classmate named Henry who was retarded. I suppose that’s not the right word for it, but it is the right word, sure enough. He sat through classes looking out the window, clutching a stuffed frog to his chest. The frog’s name was Greenie. We used to ask Henry how it was spelled—with ‘ie’ at the end, or with ‘y,’ but we were really making fun of him because Henry didn’t know any letters at all. He couldn’t have spelled his own name. We used to ask him if his mom dropped him on his head when he was a baby, and he just grinned back at us. Sometimes we asked him if he ate lead chips for snacks. He had awful, crooked, dirty teeth. Then, one day, we took him into the woods. There were five of us, plus Henry, so we joked we were five and a quarter in number. We laughed and patted him on the back and made him feel like he was our friend. Then one of us told him to take off his pants and climb a tree. He smiled for a moment, looking at each of us, and I could tell he did not want to do it. Like he felt it was wrong. I started to feel bad, but I couldn’t show it. Henry pulled his pants and skivvies down. They bunched around his ankles. His legs were white as amnesia and reminded me of pears, the way they were shaped. He started to cry, noiselessly. One of us picked up a stick. I won’t tell any names. He started to approach Henry.
Henry watched him coming and then a voice, powerful and low, came from behind us: “What the fuck are you doing?” We spun around and there was a man with a shotgun. He racked it: ca-chack! Two of us—I won’t tell names—wet ourselves. The man came up to the boy with the stick. The man had a bushy, white beard. “Take your pants off,” he said. The boy started crying, noisily. The man was smiling. The gun was pointed in the boy’s direction. Not exactly at him. Close enough. The boy took off his pants.
Sometimes I wish my mind was white like amnesia, too. Not because of the specific things I’ve seen or even because of the things I’ve done, but because the weight my life has added to the world has been negative. My sum is less than zero. Killing myself is not enough to balance the scales. Forgetting would be a blessing. Sometimes I wonder if Henry remembers—what we did to him, what he witnessed. And do you know what proof I have I’m going to hell? I hope he does remember.
Jake Walters lives in Transylvania and has been published in many places.