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by Robert Hoekman Jr

They were not our graves yet, of course; rather, our future graves. We put stakes in the ground to mark the locations and felt proud.

We’d purchased our home, this land, moved in the couches and the desks, unpacked the pots and pans, put away the silverware, hung the pictures on the walls. I would work in town, in a little office on Brown Street. She would work the field and sell her goods at the local market. Here, we would work our history into the soil. Later, we would die and be laid in these two places, a view of the trees and pasture, a warm place in the winter down the hill from the house.

We toasted with the glass clink of our beer bottles and smiled at our good fortune.

Walking back, we each felt a tinge of something else, something behind and beneath that bliss, a thing neither of us could articulate. It was small at first. An ache in the joints. Over the ensuing weeks, it grew larger and larger until it was all there was. A malaise that colored every conversation in reds and blacks. Soon, we knew this is how it would be from now on.

We had everything and were truly happy, and so neither of us had the slightest space in our minds for anything but fear.


Robert Hoekman Jr is the author of several nonfiction titles, and his work has been featured by Fast Company, WIRED, Huckberry, and many others. His fiction has been published by Nanoism, 50-Word Stories, and Orphaned Laser Wolfhound.