Day Six is courtesy of the beloved husband. It is also short. Shorter than yesterday even. Yesterday was super short for me! Still, I like this and a bit of creepy right before Halloween is good.
Tomorrow's idea is also originally based off hubby's suggestion. It is not creepy.
The last piece was always the hardest. Chris would string the process along, only in part to avoid arousing suspicion. The small black box tucked under his arm was all that remained of his beloved Annie. He stroked the top and thought of the hours of fun he’d had with the delicate, pale hands inside. How he’d treasured the time he'd spent with them.
Chris did not believe in casual relationships. Anyone that accused him of such dalliances would receive some gentle correction. His beloved Annie, for instance, lasted for weeks. He knew every piece of her as well as his own body. He’d saved her hands for last because he’d enjoyed the feel of them against his cheek each night when he went to bed.
Crisp autumn air invigorated him. Too long spent inside. Annie had made such a mess and he wanted things properly cleaned when he found his new pet. Now, with the crunch of leaves underfoot and the soft scent of decay in his nostrils, he could put the drudgery behind him. The gate had been oiled recently so when he pushed it open to enter the tiny, public pet cemetery it hardly made a sound. This was good. A place of reverence shouldn’t be marred by jarring metal cries.
He enjoyed the quiet sobs of those who came here to bury their beloved pets. His tears filled his body, but he never allowed them to fall. Disgraceful, for a man of his stature to cry in public. Not that Chris didn’t weep over the loss of his pets - he certainly did. They were as dear to him as his own sister. His green eyes drifted towards the back of the cemetery. His beloved Kirsten. Sometimes he still knelt to visit with her. The same way she would kneel beside him every night as they said their prayers together.
His little spade was tucked into a backpack and he pulled it out before he knelt in the spot he’d reserved for little Annie. Petite Annie. The dirt was crusted with a delicate covering of ice. Not so cold yet he couldn’t still dig, though. Soon the kind hearted people who managed the cemetery would begin calling him to assist with the digging. Then he'd join a small group of volunteers that would do the hard work in the winter, pre-digging holes for those not strong enough to do it themselves. Chris liked the work. He liked knowing he saved the best spots for his pets.
His spade froze in midair at the sound of the voice. Chris looked up into a pair of beautiful eyes. Brown and warm exactly like his Annie's. His lips tilted up, forming the hesitant, tenuous sort of smile one offered in a place like this. How beautiful she looked with her golden hair.
“I’m so sorry to bother you. I can’t find my shovel. Do you think I might borrow yours when you’re done?” She had an accent. A curious one he couldn’t quite place, but he thought maybe back East.
“Of course. I was done. If you need help I would be happy to assist.” Chris stood and held out the spade. Delicate Annie lay at his feet and he resisted the urge to kick her into the hole. What use mourning when there were new possibilities on the horizon?
“Oh, thank you. My husband- Well, he was called out of town unexpectedly. He was supposed to do this.” Her eyes were wet and he reached into his jacket to pull out a handkerchief. She smiled as she took it. “I like this. A handkerchief. Thank you.”
Chris knelt back down without speaking. Too much talk could scare off a new pet. So, as much as he wanted to bury Annie and be done with her, he took his time. The box was placed precisely in the small hole. He bowed his head and said his final prayers for Annie. Sweet Annie. She’d been skittish in the beginning too, but then she’d settled down. So sweet when he was done with her. An urge to peek inside the box welled up inside him, but he buried it quickly with a few quick spades full of dirt. He tamped the dirt down over the box with his hands and Annie was gone.
The past buried, he stood and brushed the dirt from his hands and knees. He glanced around to see if brown eyed woman was still there. She was, struggling with the dirt. Chris was quiet because he knew to be quiet. The frost dusted ground crunched in the silence of the morning. Best to make some noise.
“Do you need help?”
She looked up from the ground and he watched her dab at her eyes again with his handkerchief. Wasn’t she perfect? A shiny blonde coat of hair just like his Annie. Her eyes, too, just like Annie’s. Annie, who’d been delicate and perfect like his Kirsten. All of his pets had to be like Kirsten. His perfect sister. His first pet. Chris stepped back from her.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude.”
“No! I mean, it’s not. An intrusion. I’ve had Logan since high school. We went through college together. And, as I said, my husband…well, he was going to do this. Please, help would be nice.”
Chris knelt on the ground, not too close, and held out his hand. She wore gloves, but he felt the firmness of her fingers as she gave him the little spade. Under his coat he shivered at the nearness of her. How he longed to take her home, but he knew better. He couldn’t truss up a wild animal and carry her home. She had to be trained to trust and then she would follow him home. And she would. His body sang with the knowledge that perfect Annie had bestowed a final gift on him. She had led him to her replacement.
“I’m Chris,” he offered as he dug.
“Nice to meet you, Chris. I’m Mia.”