When you have a lot of dead bodies to bury, the task of digging so many graves can seem impossible.
Fortunately the earth seems to have this infinite ability to swallow up death. It doesn't even take long for the grasses and wild flowers to reclaim the bare scraps of earth beneath which silent faces cry into eternity. It doesn't take long for the earth to forget.
Once there was a massacre. My family and I were the only ones to survive. Our hands blistered on shovel handles, our sweat poured and our skin burned as we dug their graves.
There were too many dead and not enough dirt, not enough light, not enough time.
We didn't dig a grave for everyone, but some we dug extra deep.
Standing in the earth with the critters, the soil, and the damp air, I reached up to the sky. The first body was lowered down into my arms. I embraced it, him, one last time and placed him gently down on the soft crumbling earth. He looked peaceful, but so empty. Just a shell now. He was too young to die, but old enough to have seen death as it took him.
I climbed out of the hole and took up the shovel.
The noise that a shovel full of dirt makes when it lands on a dead body is something I cannot describe.
It is something that one can only know from experience. I have too much experience. It is a sound that constantly echoes in my ears. A broken record. Stuck on repeat.
With the rasp of the shovel in the pile of dirt, the fly of soil through the air, the thump as it lands in the hole, I got lost in the never ending rhythm of life an death. With each shovel full I covered his body, I let him go, I released him from my concious thought.
With cool black dirt, the only thing visible in the bottom of the grave, it was time for the second body.
I lowered myself back into the grave ready to receive him.
Standing in the grave I forgot myself for a moment. I laughed to myself and thought, "Haha, the ground is so soft and bouncy here, how weird is that."
The next second I realise why. I'm bouncing on the bloated stomach of the kid I just buried.
With a sickening crash the gravity of what I was doing hit me again. I reached up and took the next body, and placed it down at my feet. Two boys, two brothers, laying together in death.
At least they aren't alone.