January 4, 2010
They buried Lucy after the first snow. The weather had not committed to freezing and the ground was still soft. Evan cut into it easily with the trench shovel, creating a void for Lucy’s small body, and set her inside.
“You ready, mom?”
Audrey nodded. Evan filled in the hole as quickly as he had dug it. Then his father began to pound the earth with the tamper, throwing his weight into every blow.
“You’re not building a house,” Audrey said.
“I don’t want the bricks to sink in,” Carl said, stopping. This corner of the property pointed east, beyond the jurisdiction of the lawn tractor. Animals had free rein here and would dig up anything too shallow or unprotected.
Evan laid the bricks in two columns of seven, like a double-breasted coat. There were two graves now, side by side: Lucy and Hank, who had died two years earlier. Both without warning. Both on starless winter nights. Carl gazed at the canopy of laurels overhead.
“Should do something about these,” he said.
“Mom, what do you think happened?”
“I don’t know. She was fine….” Audrey let her gaze carry to the brown house next door. Evan put his arm around her.
“Maybe it was her time.”
Audrey curled her shoulders. Maybe.
Carl was examining the biggest laurel. “Evan, how ‘bout gassing up the chainsaw.”
“This looks like next year’s firewood to me. We can cut it today, stack it tomorrow.”
“Carl,” Audrey said.
“I know she was a crabby cat, but it can wait.”
Carl caught his wife’s eye. He shifted. “Okay.”
Audrey headed back toward the house, leaving green footprints where her boots mashed through the snow.
© 2010 Pam Wells