It takes a heavy foot on the spade to pierce this rock and dry clay. A good rain before the frost would do us well. But no sweet smell of change – the winter is already breathing down on us from the north.
“How come they sent you up here, my man? I thought they only asked us with the scars.”
His deep brown eyes are for me, a journey into the long cavern of time.
“They didn’t send me. I came up here because my family once lived near this valley before the plague. I have scars too. I came because I grieve, still.”
His playful eyes dance a most beautiful remembrance in my heart. Even his raggedy brows rise and dip for the dance with a wisdom that seems to relish in the knowing.
“It’s been neigh on twenty years since the plague visited this valley.” He continues to argue my presence here. “So you had to be a child then if you even had the scars. I don’t see your scars so I don’t think you should be up here.”
“Nineteen years ago you yourself must have been a child my friend.” He didn’t answer me.
“How deep must we dig?” I ask.
“When the dead are brought up it won’t matter how deep these graves, death will pour out of this earth and chase down any who didn’t already live beyond the plague in another time.
“When the horror came down on us those years passed I was barely ten years old and then I was nearly left alone.”
“So you lost your whole family to the contagion?”
“Brothers and parents gone in the whisper of an angel and a demon’s moan. First it lit on the neighbors who took in soldiers. My mother was gone off to help until she took the fever and the buboes were at her throat. My papa saw her spirit off to heaven with his prayers then took her in his arms and buried her bones himself on the hill above our farm. He dug himself a grave by her side and came back down and tucked in each child of us. His own fevered tears fell onto our faces before he left us to go for help. Only one sister and I still lingered in that stench frothing up from Hell.
I had to ask him, “Did someone ever come down from Civitas Turonorum to help you?”