Anniversary

The earth was damp; tiny clumps of soil nested under her nails as she worked it.

A day for worms.

Arms slick with dew, decorated with dirt and grass and fallen leaves, she finished as the candleglow of dawn started to waver across the sky. As the sun grew stronger, she shook the debris from her clothes, ran her fingers through her hair, and began to walk back towards the town.

By the time she’d reached it, the sky was clear October grey and folk were scurrying to work. She walked on until at last she was outside the house she remembered so clearly. This time when she pushed the door, it opened easily at her touch.

She found him in the kitchen, startled him halfway through a lunch of leftover pizza.

“I said I’d come back.”

He froze, absurdly, mid-bite, eyes fixed on her face.

“Come with me.”

She held out her hand. He groped for words.

She reached out, took his arm.

“Come with me.”

She hooked his arm through hers and led him through town. She was irresistible.

All the way through and out of town they walked, arm in arm, until they were back at the patch of earth she’d left that morning.

She held him close then, and whispered, “You see? I came back. Happy Anniversary.”

And arms cold as a crypt, smile fierce and strength implacable, she drew him deep into the damp soil in which he’d left her a year ago. After a time, his screams became choked with soil and the churning earth stilled around him.

Above, rain plashed away signs of the struggle and the flurrying wind scattered autumn red and gold over the makeshift grave.

A day for worms.

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