I dug a hole in my backyard and tossed all my possessions in there. Clothes, television, laptop, food, pictures of her. All of it in the hole. I took the shovel and filled the hole with dirt.
My house, like me, is empty now, a two-story skeleton. Brick bones. Good riddance. I need nothing. I want for nothing. Except her. It’s more than want. It’s more than need. I tried to Google it. I tried a dictionary. I can’t find the proper word. Maybe the way I feel about her doesn’t have a word. One word wouldn’t suffice anyway. I need an ocean of words to explain to you who she is, or was. Maybe I accidentally tossed the right word in the hole.
Later, at the bar, Welcome to the Jungle blares from the jukebox. I gulp my beer and ask for another. Gulp that one, too. No answers at the bottom of the glass. No words. Just backwash. I watch the drunks laugh and talk too loud and pound drink after drink. Fuck them. Fuck me. We are all the same. We come here to kill. Pain, loneliness, heartache, livers. We are murderers. The whole lot of us. We kill to survive. We kill to stay afloat.
The bartender is cute. Not Jennifer cute, but cute enough for this exact moment. Cute enough to forget for an hour or two. I want to talk to her, but the words won’t come. I want to be blunt without being rude or crude. I want to ask her to fuck me. Skip the small talk. Skip the nonsense. Fuck me tonight because fucking a stranger is also a form of killing. It would murder the memories of Jennifer for the briefest of times. But I can’t ask her that question. I can’t say please fuck me in my house of bones. We can dig a hole together and fuck inside there next to the worms and the soil and aroma of fresh dirt. I choose to say nothing. I leave the bar lit like a dumpster fire.
I lay on the floor because my bed is in the hole. I see her on the ceiling. On the walls. I can’t see her fully, just a silhouette. I reach for her and touch shadow. It’s like satin in my hands. Her skin. I remember things. Arguments about my drinking. My addiction. My attitude. My stubbornness. My my my my my my this and my that. I should’ve put all the mys in that hole. I don’t eat because there is no food. I do nothing. This is what I’m reduced to, a smudge on the floor. An inebriated smudge. I sleep.
The next night I dig another hole. I jump in naked. I look at the stars. I see her again. She’s telling me something. She says don’t forget to cover yourself in dirt. Just end it. End you. End me. End us. She makes a fair point. I climb out of the hole and knock on my neighbor’s door. I ask him to bury me in my hole. He asks why I’m naked. I don’t answer. Are you drunk again? Yes. Is this about Jennifer? Always. He shakes his head dismissively but agrees to my request.
Back in my hole, my neighbor stands above me with a shovel. But it’s not really my neighbor, it’s Jennifer. She is throwing dirt on me. She is laughing. God, I miss that laugh. I want to laugh with her but I can’t because my mouth is full of dirt. Dirt is also a killer. Jennifer is a killer. We are all killers. We kill what we hate, what we desire, what we can’t have, what we can’t change. The cute bartender could’ve saved me tonight if I had said something. I could be fucking in this hole instead of getting smothered in this hole. The cute bartender is a killer, too. She just doesn’t know that she’s a killer.
I can barely hear her laugh now. I can’t see her anymore. The dirt is heavy on my chest. Killers are going to kill. Jennifer and dirt. Murderers.
I want to tell her I will change. I will go to AA and work the steps. I will get sober and stay sober this time. I’ll do whatever it takes to bring you home. But I can’t speak because she won’t stop shoveling. She won’t stop killing. Can anybody? We were born to kill. Jennifer is a killer now like she was a killer in the womb.
The dirt keeps coming and coming. I can’t smile. I can’t breathe. I can’t think of that one word to describe her.
Chris Milam lives in Middletown, Ohio. His stories have appeared in Jellyfish Review, Lost Balloon, X-R-A-Y, Ellipsis Zine, Molotov Cocktail, JMWW, and elsewhere. You can find him on Twitter @Blukris.