BY DR. AGONSON
In the moonless night we kill the engine, parking before the old haunted church. As the headlights die, and the darkness closes in, the clouded sky parts a moment to display heaven’s treasure. Those glimmering jewels hang weightless. The gods of our fortune float carelessly above, though they wrought such trouble here on earth.
Shoving my shoulder into the door I begin wrestling my way out of the vehicle. Suddenly the latch gives and I find myself sprawling into the night air. My flesh is caked in goosebumps as a fresh breeze cuts through my summer dress. It carries on into the bleak shadows, and I hear the old church bell toll in the wind. Dong, dong, like a pastor’s ghost calling us into the sacred meeting place.
On the other side he gets out of the car and slams his door. Without word he marches around the rusted piece of junk and disappears behind the popped lid of the trunk. I hear him groan under the weight, and make my way to the rear to help him with the body.
Together we carry the limp form into the church’s graveyard. He holds the wrists while I deal with the feet. Between us it swings. The head scrapes the earth’s floor leaving a zigzagged path for me to step in. It almost looks like we’re carrying a drunk man, like we’re playing a prank on the thing. I start laughing, but then I’m silenced by his cold glare.
We drop the load after finding a suitable plot. He goes off for the shovel; I’m glad there is only one. Sitting down, I absently pluck the grass by a tombstone. The carcass stares at me agape, its bloodless face frozen in silent screams. It seems to me, if it were alive, it would be looking up…I scoot over a little. Better.
“Everyone comes here, you know.”
Before I know it, I am standing, my bottom covered in dirt. As I start a leaping escape over the grave-markers I realize it’s just my man back with the shovel. Expecting to see him an arms-length from me I turn around, but he’s only three feet from the car, half a minute’s walk away.
From behind a voice whispers, “In the end you all come to my hill.”
The bell tolls in the breezy night, as I stand without breath to scream. He comes running with the shovel. Frowning he looks everywhere. Finally, he turns his heated gaze toward me, the shovel planted in the ground by the corpse.
“He is alive,” I mouth to him, pointing at it.
Rolling his eyes he dislodges the shovel and swings it into the pallid face on the floor. It doesn’t flinch, or make any sound. Staring at me, he gives it a final kick to the groin. The unaccountable voice fades into the recesses of my memory, as the regular crunch of spade breaking earth draws me into the moment. But still the bell tolls, calling me to enter that ghostly church.
Everyone comes to the hill. I focus on my man’s bulging arms as they dig deeper. In the end, the voice had said, everyone comes to his hill. I begin to pace by the body. It’s just a mass of tissues, I remind myself, only material. Sure, it had potential—but that’s pie in the sky—I have my own potential to look out for, and his.
The mound of grave-dirt grows, towering beside the carcass. I make my way round this pile and by it obscure my sight of the body. Sitting by another tombstone, the carving of some woman holding an infant child, I read, beloved mother, wife, and friend. Maybe we should at least put a stone by his head—I catch myself—its head. My man jumps from the pit. I grab the feet again, and we carry it. Circumventing the newly formed little hill of earth, we take the body to the side of the hole, to throw it away.
“Maybe we should just tell someone. I mean, we didn’t do anything wrong,” I ask.
His face turns as hard as the stones surrounding us. I look down, trying to escape his judgment. I look down at the body we hold between us, the body we brought to this hill under the starry sky. Did it have blue eyes like him, or brown like mine? In the darkness of night I couldn’t tell, but in time the morning would show.
“Please don’t make me do this,” I cried.