The chilling wood of his shovel felt good against his hands, burning with fear. Still, he walked a few paces from his car as nonchalantly as he could, nervously glancing in every direction to see if he was truly alone.
At once, he began to slam the spade into the dirt. Thankfully, it was as damp as it was cold, so the earth offered little resistance. Stroke, after stroke, after stroke, he dug his hole. Only the red lights from his car allowed him to see, making it hard to determine the exact depth, but as the shovel traveled farther from his hands with each strike, he knew he would be done soon. He nervously peeked again for witnesses, seeing only the fog from his worked breath looming in the cool night air. His hole was now the depth of his six-foot shovel.
Eager to leave this disaster in his past, he hoisted himself from the depths, struggling a bit due to his short stature and heavy-set build. The damp ground smooshed under his hands as he tried to climb out, finally succeeding only once he squished his feet against the opposite side’s wall. He paused for just a moment, staring deep into his work. The dim red tint glowing from his tail lights painted the grass all around where he stood and made it impossible to make out any details within the hole. All he could see when he looked into it was perfect darkness.
His eyes began to water despite his best efforts to compose himself. The image of the grass blades blurred and danced through the tears as they grew larger, but the cold, unforgiving, and heartless hole retained its perfect, black form. He finally snapped his head towards his car, refocusing on his mission. Fumbling with his keys, due in part to his nervous tension and partly to the frost of the night, he managed to finally click his trunk open. Instead of the red light changing the color of what he saw, like with the grass, in his trunk the light was white. However, his trunk shined red anyway. An old off-white sheet, stained with the dark color of crimson and pain, formed around the outline of her contorted body.
He winced away at the sight, now helpless in the fight against his crying. A tiny part of him thought that perhaps none of it were real. But with his eyes shut tight, he could still see the snapshot within his mind: her hair. Peeking out from the sheet, it was long and brown, yet crusty and spotted with dried blood. Even though they were covered, he could still make out the inhuman way her arms and legs were folded so that she would fit in the tight space. Tiny pools of blood had collected from her wounds, pooling in the subtle depressions within the fabric. He closed his eyes as tightly as he could, but the image remained.
After a few moments, he did his best to regain his focus. He looked into the car again, and this time he noticed the smell of the scene. It was the familiar scent of popcorn, mixed with the familiar fragrance of a woman’s perfume to create the most foul stench of shame he knew he would never be able to erase from his mind. To ensure the task was completed, he took a big gulp of breath and held it as he stretched his arms to scoop up her mangled body. While trying to find a feasible grip, he noticed that her body was still surprisingly warm. At just that instant, a bubble of blood popped from the sheet as she let out a faint and gurgled cough.
He sprang immediately, slamming the back of his head into the locking mechanism of the trunk, which stung sharply as he collapsed to the ground. Slightly dazed, he heard her weak attempts to breathe. Although inconsistent and masked through the blood filling her mouth, she was undoubtedly taking strained breaths. Dizzy but freshly pumped with adrenaline, he stood back on his feet. He knew this didn’t change what needed to be done, but it definitely made it more difficult. He clenched his fists so hard that all of his knuckles popped as he frantically looked into the dark of the woods, and then back at her.
Desperate to get this over with, he reached into the trunk and grabbed her throat with both hands. The feeling of her slick, warm, familiar flesh under his hands sent a painful shudder down his spine. The shudder rippled pain through to his arms and legs. Her breath squeaked so sharply that his neck twitched. He couldn’t distinguish which were her arms or legs, but she was definitely struggling and moving under his crushing weight and powerful grip. After just a few seconds he let her go and cupped his now blood-drenched hands over his face as he sobbed.
“I’m so sorry. I want to make it easier, but I can’t, and I am just so sorry,” he blubbered loudly, much less concerned with onlookers at this point.
Her breathing continued and began to carry tones of whimpering and whining. He reached into the car again, picked up her light body, and trudged towards the hole, sobbing hysterically, whispering again between hyperventilating breaths, “I’m – so – sor – ry,” as he dropped her into the endless pit.
Instead of a thud, a squish noise sent a chill through his bones. Still, as clearly as while she was in the trunk, he could hear her forced breathing. The sound was maddening, so he hastily began filling the dirt back into the hole. Hoping to cover the echoing he was sure would haunt his dreams, he shoveled the dirt faster. But her breathing continued. And grew louder. He tried to aim the dirt at different parts of the hole, hoping to cover her mouth with the sludge. Still, her gargled breaths turned into raspy gasps and coughing, growing stronger and more capable. He frantically threw the dirt into the hole, not realizing that the last of the dirt was filled. But now, she had garnered all of her strength and was screaming, calling into the night.
He dropped to his knees on top of the mound, covering his ears. Still, as if she were standing right in his face, he could hear the desperate, high-pitched screams. She cried and moaned and wailed. He began sobbing again, yelling “I’m sorry! It wasn’t my fault! I couldn’t do it!” He ran to his car and revved the engine, throwing dirt and grass into the air as he raced away. He saw the mound of earth fading in his rearview mirror. The bloody face of the man staring back at him was that of a stranger. He aggressively slapped the mirror away, unable to bare the sight of himself. He gained distance from the mound with each passing moment, but the deafening screams still rang, right in his ears.