The Burial [Excerpt]

Her boots sunk in the sopping ground, the brown mucky water pooling at their edges. She scanned the dying patches of grass around her, but there wasn’t a better place to stand. She lifted her right foot gingerly; the heel of her shoe was covered in wet, sticky mud.

He clicked his tongue. “The whole thing was a farce.”

He kicked at the ground beneath him, keeping his eyes off her. Purposely, she thought.

The breeze was slight, but frigid. She hated the way it crept through her, its icy fingers coiling around her gut. The sky was nothing, not gray or blue, just one large stretch of tedious austerity. She glanced down the hill, her red car parked on the curb. The grounds had been crowded, and she had backed into that spot like a professional. She pressed her lips together in a small smile. He couldn’t do that. Hell, double the size of the spot, and he’d still be all panic. Backing in at too sharp of an angle, cutting the wheel too early. He wouldn’t even try anymore, not if she was with him. He’d just pull up to the spot and get out so she could maneuver in.

“I’m glad she’s gone. There. I said it. They’re all thinking, but no one will say it.”

She watched him drag his foot into the loose dirt. She raised her eyebrows. She thought maybe he wanted a reaction out of her, some mix of commiseration, shock and sympathy. She stared at him silently, the wind lifting the brown hairs at his forehead.

She had loved his hairline once, the dramatic point of his hair meeting in a sharp V on his forehead. His widow’s peak. In the beginning, he’d lay his head in her lap, and she’d run her hand over his head, the hair tickling the flesh of her palm.

She stuck her hands in her pockets to shield them from the wind.


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