Eva's muse-inspired story
FRIDAY EVENING I was feeling especially low, so I drove to Wal-Mart and bought a shovel. It felt good to have a purpose. I am buying a shovel, I thought. For what purpose? To dig a hole.
I came home with my new shovel and went out into the small backyard that I share with my downstairs neighbor, Gloria, a fifty-something-year-old school librarian. Gloria never uses the back yard, so I didn’t think she’d mind if I dug a hole in it. Outside, it was getting dark, and the nighttime cold stung my cheeks. I stuck my shovel into the hard dirt and jumped on it, feeling the satisfying sink as it crunched into the ground.
I dug until my hands developed blisters and the t-shirt under my jacket was damp with sweat. I piled the dirt near the fence, away from the hole. My plan was to make the hole big enough to sit in. I would sit for a while, enjoying the feeling of being inside the ground, surrounded by the earth. I would scrape at the sides of the hole, letting the dirt jam up underneath my fingernails. Then I would get out, take a shower, and go to bed.
Digging took a lot longer than I expected. When I had finally made the hole big enough to sit in, I let the shovel drop from my throbbing fingers, and I practically threw myself in.
Then a strange thing happened. I just kept falling. For a while I fell in darkness and silence, too surprised to scream. When I finally stopped falling, I found myself standing, in broad daylight, on a busy street corner. There was a small park behind me, and across the street marched a row of cheerful-looking brick houses. I knew at once I had fallen into an alternate reality because the cars looked strange, and the traffic lights changed from purple to orange to blue.
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