As I move the pile of dirt into the hole I think about what it is to have a good marriage. I think about the dedication, devotion, and patience required to unconditionally love someone. It’s different for your kids, or your parents. That’s blood, and in a way, loving them is loving parts of yourself. But with a stranger, someone you start out without having any ties to, it’s more intense. Of course, things like sex, attraction, and building a family together, can forge a bond stronger than anything you’d have with blood. I think its the optional nature of marriage, the choice, of loving someone, and making that choice daily, that brings intensity.
I stopped shoveling to take a break. The steel spade sank into the loose pile of dirt with a meaty thud. I leaned against the patio deck in our back yard and lit a smoke. Sure these things would kill me someday, but nicotine took the edge off. Stress had a way of working itself into a marriage. Money, sex, kids, time, work, and sprinkling systems all contributed to fucking stress. Marlboro, would eventually give me cancer, or a heart attack, but it sure made me breathe a whole lot easier, even though it didn’t. I kept the sweet stick of death in my mouth while I picked the shovel up, and continued fill the hole in the back yard.
Honey-do lists were part of the deal. You knew going in that she’d have things she wanted you to do. Things she maybe couldn’t do herself, or wouldn’t be able to get to. God knows my mom did 90 percent of the work around my house. Sure this was a chore, but I’m sure I was a chore myself. Let alone things like laundry, the kids, cleaning, and dishes. I hate doing dishes. Course we’re going to need a new maid for that now. I shook my head, my daughter is getting old enough now, maybe I could get her to do them until we hire help. The money coming in would be enough to get someone.
I’d moved a good amount of soil now. The whole Saturday was being taken up by this damn work. Pulling up the patio, digging 6 or so feet down, then climbing out and filling it all back up again. The sun was starting to come down. I held my hand up to it to measure how much daylight I had left. I’d probably be able to fill the hole by the time the sun went down, and that was fine. I’d rebuild the parts of the patio I had to take apart. By Monday you’d never know I’d been here, and that’s the goal. One stunning back yard, restored to its former beauty. Next weekend was going to be July, and we were going to have a barbecue.
Barbecue was the first thing we had as a married couple. She always loved smoked meat. I loved that about her. I could have never imagined a life with someone who was a vegan or vegetarian. Another thing was her ability to pig out just like me when the food was good. She and I were both messy eaters. I thought about a particularly sexy stain she’d gotten at a restaurant and laughed to myself while I continued to work. What a honeymoon that was.
The sun was nearly down now. I didn’t need light to work, so I continued. The dirt hit the bottom of the hole with a hefty thud. I could see the bottom now, that was good. Another hour or so, and I’d be even. Of course I knew after doing this a few times that I’d have to pile dirt another 18 inches so it would even out while it settled. I looked up at the bedroom, and thought about my wife. Classic, beautiful, and above all else, hypnotic. She could walk into a room and it would quiet down. People stared at her, men in lust, women in envy. My lips curled into a smile as I smoked, and felt genuinely special, that she was mine. The ground stirred in the hole and I shook my head, this one would need a shaft.
The shaft was 7 feet of solid iron, with a point tip. The hole was still two feet deep so I put the tip in the center and pushed down with all my weight. The loose dirt let the shaft sink 4 feet from my first effort. If I was lucky, I wouldn’t have to pull it up. I had a sledgehammer ready and tested the weight in my hand. I lifted it up as the ground stirred again, and brought the weight down on the blunt end of the shaft. It connected with a solid “ping” against the shaft and I heard a “crack” in the ground below. The ground shifted again and I hit the shaft harder this time. I heard another “ping” and another “crack.” One more strike and the shaft sank below the top of the hole. There was a slick sliding noise, but the shaft put an end to any stirrings below the surface. “That will keep you.” I mused to myself while I got the hose. I wet the ground while I lit up another smoke. That would settle the ground for good. I left the water running while I dropped the sledgehammer. Then I picked up the shovel.
Honeymoons end. They all do, but you work daily to keep that fire alive. You do what you have to for each other. I remember when my honeymoon ended. It was 15 years ago on a hot summer night. The first time I stumbled in on her, covered in blood, with a limp body, pieces torn away dangling from her right arm. She looked at me, scared, and worried about what I was going to do. She also had a piece of neck still dangling from her mouth. She really was a messy eater. What could I do? I looked at my left hand and the solid gold ring on my finger. I reached into my pocket, took out my pack of Marlboro’s and lit one up. She hates my habit, but at the time, she couldn’t really say anything. I’m a good husband, and I love my wife. It was concerning to find out she was some sort of cannibal vampire creature of darkness, but at the same time it made so much sense. I walked over and hoisted the body over my shoulder. I kissed her on the cheek, and took it out back to bury it under our small patio.
She hugged me from behind. Beautiful arms slid around my chest as she kissed me on the neck. I smiled, and enjoyed the playful nip of her teeth. “Thanks baby.” She said. I finished moving the last of the dirt, and sprayed some more water on it for good measure. Today our patio takes up half the back yard, there are 15 graves now. Once a year she needed to feed, so once a year I buried a body. I don’t know all the rules, but sometimes they start to come back, so I drive a shaft through them, and soak the earth. I don’t need to know the how, I just know I love my wife. She went back inside to make me dinner, and as I watched her go I enjoyed again just how lucky I am. Yeah, we have a good marriage. I’ll finish the patio extension tomorrow.