Raising Cain

The sun is just peeking over the horizon when I tell Maryanne it’s time.

She gives a quick nod of her head before taking a sip of coffee. “I know…gotta get the taters in that ground tomorrow.”

“It’s gonna be a good day for it,” I add. “Weatherman says it’s gonna be in the seventies with sun all day.” I head for the back door.

“I’ll be out soon as I finish my coffee,” Maryanne says.

I stop by the shed and get the shovel before heading to the garden. I’d just been digging a couple of minutes when Maryanne joins me. She’s carrying the hand spade for the fine work.

I dig down about a foot—that’s as far as I’d best go with the shovel—and lay it aside. Me and Maryanne drop to our knees and start digging more, me with my bare hands (I ain’t got a light touch with tools) and her with the little spade. And soon I feel something, push my fingers in a little more. “There he is,” I say.

Maryanne tosses her little spade a row over, and now we’re both using our hands. I hear her muttering under her breath, prayers, I reckon, ‘cause I hear “Lord” and “God” sprinkled in amongst her other fervorish words.

By the time we get him uncovered, Maryanne is laughing and crying at the same time. She tenderly brushes the dirt from around the closed eyes of our only child, Cain. “Ain’t rotted much, has he Tom?” she asks.

I work Cain’s shoulders free. “Don’t look like it.”

“That’s good,” she says. “Real good.”

“You want me to do it?”

“No, let me.” She begins working her arms under our boy’s body. “He’s so little, I can manage just fine.”

And she’s right. Cain was just three when he died last August. The hardest part of all this was getting him planted in dirt that hadn’t seen rain in pretnear a month.

When she has both arms under him, I take Cain’s hands and cross them over his chest and steady my wife as she rises to her feet.

“I’ll put him over there by the tulips,” Maryanne says. “Aunt Hassie said to make sure he got sun all day long, and a’fore dark, he’ll come back to us.”

I have no doubt the old witch is right, and tonight, Cain’ll be tearing through the house like he hadn’t spent the last seven months in the garden. After all, I seen it happen a’fore—with Maryanne. She’d died birthing Cain. And I’d planted her in the garden like Aunt Hassie had told me to, and come spring, I’d dug her up and laid her in the sun.

©️2023 jai

Image by Duccio Pasquinucci from Pixabay

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