He stood in a large hole, perhaps four feet deep and five or six in diameter. The digging was strenuous, the ground comprised of gravel and sand. With each thrust, the shovel stopped dead, sending a jolt through his arms, his shoulders, his back. Every few minutes, he dropped to his hands and knees to dig by hand. With his fingers, he unearthed heavy rocks, straining to wrestle them from the hole and heave them aside. The rocks dented and dulled his shovel, slowing his progress.
The air was crisp and the moon full; his body steamed through his shirt. He lifted the shovel from the hole, flat to the ground and perhaps a quarter full, and tossed its contents over his right shoulder. The sand made a brushing sound as it fell on dry leaves. He plunged the shovel into the earth again.
She stood behind him and said, “Why are you doing this?”
He stopped and let the shovel stand by its blade as he removed his cap and drew his arm across his forehead. The shovel stood upright for a moment then fell. “I have to find it,” he said.
She shook her head. “I don’t need it.”
Bending over, he grasped the shovel. “If I don’t find it now, We’ll have to wait until Spring.” He shook his head. “I can’t dig through the frost.”
She wrinkled her forehead and said, “Leonard, you’ve been out here for days! Weeks!” She moved close, and he pulled away. She stopped and said softly, “Perhaps it’s not God’s will that it be found.”
“I don’t believe that. If He wants me to leave it out here in the wild, He needs to tell me plain. I ain’t interested in deciphering hints from The Almighty.”
She raised her eyebrows and looked at him. “He is telling you. I’m telling you. Take the shovel home and draw yourself a warm bath. Put on dry clothes. Make a fire! Do the things that you need to do to move on.”
He shook his head.
She smiled with sad eyes and said, “The landslide was not your fault. You don’t need to find my body.” She smiled. “It’s already buried.”
He fell to his knees in the dirt and covered his face with his hands. “No, no, no…” he cried.
“I have to go now, Leonard,” she said softly. “It’s time for us both to go home…”
She drifted away into the trees…
Leonard awoke with a start, his eyes wet and the television still on. Beside him, she lay sleeping, breathing deeply. He spooned her, and buried his face between her shoulder blades, pulling her close.
She faced the wall, smiling. “These dream pills were worth every penny,” she thought. “I am SO going shopping today.”