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by Donna L Greenwood

When she digs for her dead lover, she finds nothing but earth, so she digs deeper. Some men are mean and hurt her, but her body is just another wall. The women are snakes — they smile while they bite. In the daylight, the children throw stones at her. They say she has diamonds in her eyes; they dance beside her and wait for them to fall.

They don’t understand that she is digging. She is looking for her lost lover beneath the earth. She burrows deeper and deeper, the dirt filling her mouth and belly and, though it is tearing her apart, she eats it all. She takes it all. When she is drunk enough, she tells the drinkers and the dope smokers that one day she will find love again. They laugh and watch her drink the last of her whisky. Someone at the back of the bar whispers and then there are hands and men and all she can do is fall backwards and sink into the ground. There is a grey-haired man on top of her; he shunts her further and further into the earth. She hopes that when she reaches the bottom, she will be dead enough to find her dead lover. But he never appears. Help me, she says to the grey-haired man but he doesn’t stop; he is cheered on by the gathering crowd. Help me, she whispers to the angels, but the angels can no longer hear her. She lies still and waits for it to be over. She doesn’t attempt to stop the man. When he is finished and the crowd go back to their drinking, she sits up and pulls the folds of her skirt down so that they cover her exposed pubis. She doesn’t cry. She never cries. She understands that it is too late; that the earth above her is too heavy and no one can ever unbury her bones.

Donna L Greenwood lives in Lancashire, England. She writes flash fiction, short stories and poetry. She has recently won several writing competitions, including Molotov Cocktail’s “Flash Legend” and the 2019 STORGY flash fiction competition. You can find examples of her work in The Airgonaut, Ellipsis Zine and The Corona Book of Ghost Stories.