A shovel cuts once disturbed earth, sharp and clean for a month or so’s foot traffic. Kimberly, her friend, is stuck in the overt focus of new type work. That new work being the naturalizing of a sapling they’d bought earlier that day. 

It was Kim’s promise to her, “We’ll go out this spring, we’ll plant a tree. And we’ll still be friends.” Opal didn’t understand what that’d meant, she couldn’t feel the tension as clearly. 

She may as well bury herself too, how numb she was to it. 

This new hole lacks depth when compared with the one she'd dug before, but it was at least deep enough for the new sapling. Deep enough to call home if such a form of life could learn the words. 

Let the roots eat, let the earth forget, let the body lose itself. Let her body be new beneath all such intentions. 

“You're pretty fast at this.”, Kimberly said with heavy breath, as Opal handed her the water canister. Glass in rubber. “I wonder who said you could get so tall?” 

The question is rhetorical, but Opal doesn’t really read that, “I think, my dad.” she’d never known her mother’s side of the family, it was quite possibly a common trait, but it felt unlikely given how fast she’d outpaced her. 

She was really much too tall, much too early. 

Kim’s face scrunches up a little. “I’m too sweaty, I need a shower before I break out.” She stops for a while and says, “Really? Your dads tall? I’ve never met him.” 

Opal looked over her memories, “Yes.” They never would’ve met, it was better that way.

“Just yes? Suppose that’s good.” Kim stays put for a minute letting the breeze push by her, “We’re still friends, right?” 

Opal doesn’t really know if they’d stopped being so, if they’d ever bother stopping. Kim wasn’t very strong, and really Opal imagined, her height was just too useful a feature. 

Lean strength had its other uses for someone like Opal. 

“Are you still just cleaning?” Kimberly asks, and Opal is a little heartbroken. She’d decided to take the profession years ago, she’d stayed put beside her those years. And still it was disheartening to try and explain.

She still needed money to live as she liked, what else could she do that would pay as well? Her hands might be dirty, but she’s never had to kill anyone. She’s not as unbound by the death needed to make the world go round. Opal could say that at least.

It is not unkind to let your accomplices be ignorant, not with incarceration as a threat. Opal schools herself, “No. You think I couldn’t do better in a year?” 

“Oh, good. I was worrying for nothing.” Kim says, before handing the canister back, “here, you should take a rest too.” She offers her side with a vague gesture. 

Opal sits down for a moment next to her friend, and She is utterly new, sharing a drink with this person to whom she endeavors to lie. It’s fitful, but there’s peace there for her.

She looks out at their work, less trouble and somehow more tiring than the one she’d dug before. It was Not much different as opposed to width, but it isn't ideal, really, to leave leg room in a 'shallow' grave. 

It was deeper, the ditch she’d dug alone. 

It’s her body down there, that she's burying evermore securely with her friend. The one she’d been told to bury, like so many others in the spring, and summer, when the earth no matter how remote would soften and she could quite simply do so in the middle of the night. 

And truly it is her body down there, rotting, as much food for this new sapling as for this certain and truly kind lie. 

Two meters below her feet, mycelia will crawl into the body, and dissolve it in highly derived enzymes for this new sapling to engorge itself on. The tree will live on what she left behind, and Kimberly will thank her, because their friendship won’t feel like a lie. 

It was all she could think, the tension was clear, and she was sick even without voicing it. 

It's wrong to bury people isn’t it? It's good to plant trees, right? 

What do you do when the body beneath two friends has nothing to do with some sharp real secret, and everything to do with a dirty job no one in their right mind would hold any pride for? 

Precious sweaty hours in the night, all for your very own body two meters beneath you. 

After a heart stopping few minutes, Opal looked over at Kimberly. She’d always been a fairly accepting person, she made a point of it more often than not. But it wasn’t as if she hadn’t made noise. 

Like she hadn’t pushed a fuss, when the only work Opal could really make a living on included digging ditches and leaving bodies in them. She knew as well as anyone, what Opal was capable of.

Kim didn’t call the cops, why would she? It would only make things harder for them both. But the judgment, for however often it slipped her mind, was deafening. She swallows the thought, and it is with great pride that she doesn’t throw up. Opal hands back the canister. 

Kimberly gets up first, stretching and dusting, and whatever else people do, before saying, “we should go home soon.” 

“Yeah.” Opal agrees, and they walk away from their chosen planting area towards the road. There hadn’t really been a parking area, nowhere primed. The place they’d chosen wasn’t exactly filled with traffic.

It hadn’t been for her job either, but Opal knew she wouldn’t, couldn’t say anything. Lies are more for safety than anything else, but it didn’t change how she kept them. 

She looked back at where her body was buried, where they’d planted their tree together, and she was sick of the emptiness. Kim was right there, just a little ahead of her and she didn’t feel buried.

Not by her own hands.

“What a day.” Opal says smiling, before their discussion fell into form with the inane.

June 15, 2023 01:00

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