As I turn the earth I think how strange it is to destroy so many little lives for just one death.
With the shovel I cleave a worm in half. Both ends writhe and twist, their frantic death throes grimly synchronised. I tear the rear off a creature I can’t even identify, some strange honey-coloured shell, with a head as big as its torso: a blind underground thing, armoured and many-legged. I have no idea what it is. I toss its mutilated form behind a bush.
I dig deeper and destroy an ant colony. Hallways and caverns and tunnels, finely carved and sculpted by hundreds of dedicated bodies, collapse against my shovel. Some of these bodies I slit open with the spade, but all these tiny deaths still don’t seem to equal hers and I hollow out more ground. The curled forms of millipedes, their paper nautilus spirals sifted in the dirt; the scampering of some cockroach-like creatures, fleeing from the old spade as it hunts them up and digs them out. The earth turns to red clay turns to grey clay turns to rock and I can dig no further. Shattered roots hang loose and dismembered from the soft edges, protruding from the walls like limbs in a mass grave.
And here is where we’ll place her. At the bottom of the hole I have made in the earth; at the bottom of the hole I have already filled with death.