There’s Something a Little Wrong with Everything
by CG Miller
She convinces me the dead of night is the best time to bury something you’re finished with. Draws her finger along my spine when I tell her about it after our first time; my first time with anyone. An S shape, a forward twist at opposite convex sides, a rib hump that looks like something swelling up inside, an uneven hip, equally uneven shoulders, a neck cocked slightly sideways—these are mine to bear. I wear a brace to keep it from getting worse. She isn’t bothered. She shows me all the scars her dad gave her before he left, shows me her lazy eye, her fallen arches, a pop in both shoulders every time she raises her arms above her head. Tells me there’s something a little wrong with everything.
“I’m done with the brace now,” I tell her.
“Let’s bury the stupid thing,” she says.
We choose the creek a block from home, behind the cemetery, so it’s fitting. I’ve heard stories of dogs hung on telephone wire and lost children in these woods, though I don’t mention these things to her. My older brother was once chased by a man here in broad daylight. But she doesn’t know that, so I don’t care about it.
The night’s colder than it’s been all year. The moon guides us past the creek and the sprawling trees before we round a clearing for electrical towers. We pass two towers before we find a spot she calls perfect, though I see nothing that differentiates it from the rest. It’s near the tree line but not fully underneath its shadow. We toss our shovels to the ground and she pulls out a pipe and we smoke weed before we dig. She pulls out two cigarettes afterwards and smokes them both, not offering me one, which is fine, because I hate cigarettes, but I’m not sure she knows this yet. We hadn’t known each other long enough to know things like that.
We take our shovels to the ground and relearn the feeling of moving earth. My back hurts doing this. But it’s worth it.
It doesn’t take long to dig deep enough for the brace, so we toss it in when we think we’re finished, and she pulls out a flask to celebrate after we’ve thrown enough dirt on it to never see the thing again. We drink and kiss over our accomplishments.
“No more braces,” she says as liquor dribbles down her chin from a rushed pour. “Or crutches.”
She pours liquor on the ground for the brace, then we grab the shovels and walk back the way we came. We cut through a hole in a fence that leads into the back of the cemetery, taking turns off both the pipe and flask, sometimes not being sure which was which. We hop from graveyard plaque to graveyard plaque acting like the grass is lava. Her idea. I feel my hip shift when I land wrong on a plaque and it sends a shooting pain down my left leg. It feels deserved.
I ask, “You think our shovels will make us look like grave robbers?”
“What’s life without a little danger?” she says.
I think: a life without danger.
Tombstones appear in place of plaques now and she puts her shovel into the ground in front of one and acts like she’s gonna start digging. I gasp. She laughs. Who the hell is she? I want to turn away and run, keep on the grass this time. What have I done? For the rest of my life I’ll think of my first time, and I’ll see her trying to dig up a body.
“A friend is picking me up,” she tells me.
God is real!
“I had a lot of fun,” she says.
I think I say something back, something appropriate, cause she smiles and asks for a hug. I do it, though my back is killing me. My spine snakes my body into odd positions to try to calm the inflammation in my muscles. I lean on the butt of the shovel as a red muscle-car zooms through the narrow cemetery roads and picks her up, and she disappears into the night like she was never there to begin with.
My brace. My brace. My crutch.
I turn back and jog like I’m prepared to run for miles. A drop of rain splashes perfectly on my nose. It makes me run faster, avoiding all plaques like any normal person would.
I cut back through the hole in the fence and scramble over the road like some lost doe. If headlights catch me, my face will look utterly unsure. The rain picks up. I run down the clearing, pass two towers and look. Where is it? Where did we dig? I’m drunk and stoned and now searching through the fog of rain and everything is turning into puddles and mud. My back aches like it’s never ached before.
I find a spot that looks like nothing special. I think I’m digging in the right place. Why didn’t we put a marker to honor the spot? I’m just tossing up mud that gives way for more mud to drain. I’m not getting any closer. I might not even be in the right spot. Why on earth would I bury my brace? I wasn’t even done with it. I wasn’t done with it. I wasn’t done with it.
CG Miller is a God-fearing man who writes out of Grand Prairie, Texas, with his wife and daughter by his side. He loves reading short story collections and watching movies that make him think. He dabbles in both art and music. He has published in Menda City Review and Brilliant Flash Fiction.