Stygian

disclamer

A boy carried a shovel. The backyard was decorated with the long white fence grown in vines and a swing set in the corner. He looked back at the house, pulled his arm above the eyes because of the Sun that shone at the angle. Standing over the grass, he glanced at the blades individually. Justapox the shiny metal at the end of a handle was this lush green, bright green color with shadows ruffling here and there. A sigh and the edge carved the ground. At first, he broke the hardened crust – the feet and frequent traffic condensed it. There wasn’t much on the shovel, but the second strike scooped a hefty amount of dirt.

He kept going. The Sun was at its peak, he wiped the sweat and dug the shovel a bit more into the ground. When he was knees deep, the boy sat at the rim to rest. A turn to the left, he saw the backyard, the fence, unchanged, still, motionless. Look to the right, the breeze rocked the swing, liberating the squeal from a rusty link. It wasn’t the sound he wanted to hear. No reason to stall, he got up, grabbed the shovel, signed once again and got back to it.

Eventide was at its usual, he was up to his shoulders in the pit. Somehow he got out and fetched a candle. He stuck it in one of the corners, set it ablaze and returned to work. The moonlight gave him some vision of the walls of the pit. Hard swinging against the sides with a shovel, made the walls vertical like it’s supposed to be. The second pause he made was because of the pain. He looked at the blisters on his hand covering palmar creases. Huge, white, hard on touch, it hurt when he moved the fingers. He hissed and shook his hands, but then he looked how far he got and ill-suited him. Angry it took him so long, he picked up the tool and begun digging rapidly. The pile of delicate dirt grew over the night, and he hasn’t stopped working.

It was too narrow, he concluded and pushed the cutting edge with all of his strength to carve a bigger space. Time-spaced thuds, that was the rhythm he was going for, the work seemed easier if he dug in a set tempo. He wasn’t able to see over the top of the rim, the sides were polished and hardened from the Sun. It was morning and he sat on the west side of the hole, just to see the first rays come forward and touch his dusty face. Looking at the palm again, lit by a proper light, he saw his blisters wide open and bloodied. The handle was of the same color of red, but dirty and sticky, it got that darker tone.

Again, he started plunging the metal end in the ground, pulling more and more loads from the deep. He moved the sweat, noticed his hair was long and wet. With a better inspection of his appearance, it seemed he aged. It felt foreign and common at the same time. Not able to calculate it, he thought he must be at his early twenties.

He kept going. Rain, drought, rain again, periods of the sun didn’t bother him, he kept going. Cold nights when his back steamed and his breath was visible haven’t stopped him, he kept going. No matter what happened, he kept going.

Looking at the sunrise and sunsets, he could see a little glimpse of it, but not the whole spectacle. During one of his streaks, he came on to a layer of sand and clay, it just became harder to carve through it. The cutting edge got deformed, rippled and the cracks got wider. A dull ring took over the former sound of thuds when he went through the sand layer and came to the bedrock. It really became hard to dig, even harder when the shovel broke and he was left with a sleeve. The shovel blade was in pieces, useless to him, so he threw them out and begun punching holes in the ground, before taking handfuls of dirt and doing it manually. The handle snapped, he was left with nails. Piece by piece, he threw the rocks out. To throw a boulder, he needed a great strength, however, in his thirties, he had plenty of that.

It was the night when he sat down and leaned over the wall to catch a breath. Passing his fingers over the shirt, he spotted how awful it looked, numerously wettened and stuck with dirt that just kept building layers, he could break it in fragments like a piece of bread. He laughed at the fractured shards dangling form the fabric as he moved. That running around reminded him of dance or something similar.

By the morning, he was at the doorstep of the fifties. The thin skin and showing veins told him he became old, the touch of a long grey beard only confirmed the same. He looked up at the rim that by the day got tighter and tighter. A sigh and he hissed while holding his back and rolled to his knees to begin to dig. In a shallow turn, he noticed that the amount he pulled out was visibly smaller than what he took out yesterday. It was so much faster when he had a shovel. But he kept going.

He wiped his eye and continued digging, but a little while after, he rubbed his eye, again and again, unable to remove what was blocking his vision. A group of grunts came from him while he rubbed his eyes only to realize he can’t uncloud his sight, that frosted glass was fixed in from of him. He stopped and pivoted backward resting on his knees. A vociferous cry echoed in the dept, bounced over the pit walls and escaped the hole in the ground. All he could see were melted colors without the shape, barely able to distinguish the light from the dark. And the dark soon followed. It became insignificant if it was a day or night, the pit’s bottom got engulfed with blackness. But he kept going.

Blind and condemned to track his path only by touch, he dug some more, every other scrape grew weaker and powerless. Finally, an old man rolled over on his back, panted and tried to see the distant entrance above him. He strained to recall the white fence, the vines with wide leaves and the swing, the sound of it squealing, he tried to recall the sunlight, the feeling of warmth touching his face making him frown and squint. It couldn’t, the memories were vague and bleached from his mind.

Pain pulsated in his arms, while cuts and bruises were all he was left with as a token of his youth. At the bottom of the abyss, an old man lives. Ribs showing through his skin, shoulder joints disfigured and fixed inwards of his torso, swing freely hung at the curve of his backbone. His grey bushy beard already thinned out, just like his hair that was almost non-existent. Freckles, wrinkles, loose skin of his belly, not an atom of energy circulating the broken body, he sits curled up in the corner, shaking, his eyes dashing without a pattern as if he heard something.

From the top of the hole, there is darkness descending to a pitch-black, hiding life at the bottom. Even the best eyes can’t break through its composition and spot two sad, and grey dots wandering in fear. From the top, there are only piles of dirt laying around the hole who somebody dug out and left.

Stygian Dronstad

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