Burying a body was hard. Clinton knew this well.
He first had to find a good spot, somewhere people may not notice. He chose the soft patch of dirt outside the cabin where the roots of trees jutted up from the ground and the forest began.
The body in question was wrapped in white, horse printed sheets and tied with rope, but even that didn’t stop it from squirming and wrestling about.
With a grunt, Clinton picked her up, arms straining as he threw the body over his shoulder. She screamed; an angry, muffled cry.
Clinton wasn’t a small man. He was burly with a close shaved beard. His eyes were small but gentle. Clinton was a strong man, but holding her body in his arms made him weak. He hated what he had to do.
Burying a body was hard.
Clinton stopped a couple of feet away from the spot he’d chosen and rested the body down. It bucked and rolled, arms slowly trying to work themselves free. Clinton took a deep breath and grabbed the shovel that sat up against the cabin wall. It was next to an old pink tricycle, faded and grimy with time. The pink tassels at the handles’ end had all but torn away.
“Hush now,” he said. “Its almost over, baby girl.”
Rubbing his eyes and wiping his face, he went to the soft patch of ground and began to dig. He didn’t wear gloves. His big hands were calloused from years of chopping wood.
He looked at the writhing body again and she let out a scream. But no one could hear her, they were miles away from anyone else. Maybe that’s why this happened. He blamed himself.
Clinton forced the shovel into the ground, wrenched the dirt into the mouth of the shovel and scooped it to the side.
To bury a body was difficult.
You couldn’t just dig a hole; there was an art to shoveling, a rhythm that set into the hands, shoulders, back, and legs. Clinton’s biceps bulged as he struck the earth, he exhaled in one motion; inhaling as his stance changed, his back tensed, a canvas of pure muscle bunching as he flung pounds of dirt into a pile.
Droplets beaded his forehead and soon dampened his chest, stained his armpits, and darkened the back of his blue shirt an Indigo hue.
“D-daddy?…” came a wretched voice.
“No…no, no,” Clinton said, shaking his head. She couldn’t talk.
She struggled, and all that came from her were incoherent, muffled groans and growls.
Clinton’s hairy fingers reddened with his tightened grip and soon his knees ached, but he did not stop. His muscles cried for a break, but he kept shoveling, glancing, in those hard moments at the wrapped body that lay a few feet away. He let the memory of her give him strength. He could see one arm was freed now and clutching at the moist soil. It bore the bloody mark of a bite.
“Hang on,” he said.
Panting now, Clinton had dug his hole several feet deep. He tossed the shovel up and planted his palms just outside the hole and hoisted himself. His arms shook and his body strained then faltered. He fell back into the hole, hot breath beginning to fog in the chilly air. His eyes stung from dirt and sweat. Outside the hole, he could hear her.
Clinton sat back in the hole and wondered if he belonged there instead.
No. No, he tried everything he could. There was no cure, and he couldn’t just abandon her. She was a danger to everyone.
Dirt fell from above and Clinton looked up in time to see the silhouette of the sheet covered body and one arm reaching down for him. The body tipped down and fell right into the hole with him, grabbing and scratching at him. She smelled of rot and dying flesh. Clinton yelled and kicked his daughter in the face.
She screeched and let out a feral cry.
“Sarah!” he said. “Be a good girl for daddy.”
But it was too late, she was on top of him, teeth pressed against the sheet and chomping at his face. Clinton took her by the neck, relieved her other arm was still strained, and began to squeeze.
He squeezed and choked her, his baby girl. She screamed a choked cry, blood and adrenaline rushing through his body and the pain, oh the pain was greater than he would have imagined it to be, to see her breaking under his hands.
Clinton turned his body, reversing there positions. He straddled her and began to bang her head against the dirt floor. He strangled her, crying out as she raked nails across his forearm.
Panicking, Clinton stood and raised his boot clad feet then stomped on her head. The body grunted and halted, dazed by the blow. Clinton struck again, and again, closing his eyes and blood and yellowish fluids began to stain the sheets.
Once it had all gone quiet, he placed his hands outside of the hole and cried out as he pulled up and dragged his body from the hole. His clothes were muddy, and dirt dried under his fingernails. He wanted to lay down, to forget, to pretend, but he looked at the body, wrapped in those horse printed sheets and grabbed his shovel once more.
When burying a body, it was always harder to fill the hole. Every second her body was less and less visible. Farther and farther away.
One last scoop.
Clinton finished and patted the earth down. He placed his shovel back up against the wall, next to the pink tricycle then went back inside. He lit the fireplace, but felt he would never be warm again.
He went to the kitchen, opened the fridge and grabbed a cold beer then went into the living room to sit in his recliner. Clinton cracked open his beer before turning the television on.
There was a football game; Houston versus Pittsburgh. Clinton took a long, hard drink then looked out the window.
Outside, he could see the soft patch of land, near the edge of the trees, among the roots where the forest began. He pressed his lips together, nostrils flaring and fingers pressed so tight against the can of beer they dented the metal.
The television roared as Houston scored. Clinton looked down at his arm and the bloody scratches his daughter had left.
Clinton turned off the TV then drank the rest of his beer in silence.