All I smell is earth. The thick damp smell of decomposing life. Turned by tectonic forces and washed away by water falling from the sky. My right hand is bleeding inside the glove. I cannot see the blood but I know it is there, I feel it sticking to my fingers. Earth rises up above my head and opens to the grey overcast sky. Both sky and earth reach out forever.
I climb out of the hole and into the sky. It is mid afternoon and the rain is starting to fall more heavily. No longer a fine mist hanging in the air but tiny pellets with the occasional fat drop. Soon it will be impossible to work. I pull off my glove to examine my hand. There is a small stream of blood flowing from one of the numerous blisters on my palm. I pour some rubbing alcohol on it. It burns like hell. I look back down into the hole. It is probably eight feet deep. What a waste of time. I sit on the trunk of a tree I cut down to use for fire wood.
The forrest around me is thick towards the north. Everything is a soft brown or yellow or green or grey. The forrest around me is sparse to the south, eventually opening into a glade the shines when lit by the sun. I take a long drink of water and look up into the grey sky. Little droplets of water fall into my eye.
While I am sitting on the tree, deciding if I should get back down into the hole or quit for the day, I notice a young couple walking towards me from the glade. I have seen them before but never together. The boy is probably fourteen, gangly and awkward. At the age where your body and mind are far more developed than your realizing. They are always leading you into strange situations. The girl is about seventeen. At the age where she has become a woman in a way that society deems you a woman but is still a child in the way that she views society. The two of them are at once filled with wonder and perfectly serious about it. They walk in a very deliberate manner, they are coming to talk to me it seems. I watch them come. It is apparent now that they are brother and sister. I had only seen the girl a few times, walking in the distance. The boy had been around a good amount. He had helped me spilt firewood once and clear a large rock from the hole when it was only a few feet deep. They are both about the same size, the boy a little taller, but long and thin. They both have auburn hair and crooked teeth and bright brown yellow eyes that glow with eerie youthful light.
“Sir,” Says the girl, clearly in charge of her brother who is carrying a small basket, “Why are you out in the rain?”
“It wasn’t raining when I left the house this morning. I was considering going back home.”
The girl has the build of a woman but the face of a child. Her hair is pulled back tight. The boy, who before seemed like a young man, seems more like a child now.
“Why are you out in the rain?”
This question seems to surprise her. She hadn’t thought about it. The boy smiles a little and looks down at the dirt.
“Well, to be honest, we came out too see what you are doing. My brother told me he has helped you and I wondered why?”
“I am digging this hole.”
The answer is not simple, answers never are. I had told people I was digging a well, or a mine, that I was digging a storage shelter. None of that was true. I looked at them and it seemed wrong to tell them a lie. They had come out in ernest. The boy head helped me in ernest. I looked at their strange eyes and their youthful faces, then back at the hole, looming like a dark vortex just a few feet behind me.
“It is my grave.”
They are perplexed by this answer. They look at each other with concern and confusion. The girl is now doing all the thinking and the boy is reacting to his sister, they way siblings sometimes do.
“Are you ill?”
“No. Not really.”
This answer seems to satisfy their curiosity. We share a moment or two of silence where the three of us stand together listening to our thoughts and hearing the soft impact of rain on the leaves fallen from the tall trees. There is no wind at all. I can at once sense their confusion and the deepness of the hole behind me. The two of them look lost, as if they had forgotten where they were or why they had come.
“We brought you this basket.”
The boy gives me a small woven basket, just lightly larger then my two palms open together. Sitting inside, wrapped in a cloth napkin, is a sandwich and a perfect red apple. I smile. The children smile as well.
The two of them walk away, whispering to each other, having received an answer to their question. The answer only giving birth to more questions, because answers always do. The rain begins to lighten, they day becomes a little brighter. I sit on the tree trunk and eat the food brought by the two children. I look back into the hole. It’s dark shadowy depths sit in sharp contrasting solace to the brighting world around me.