Get the shovel, I say. We have to find out – we must know. You follow me between the pale rows of stones aglow in the moonlight. The Idaho mountains are close, almost overhead, a wall against the small meandering road back to Sun Valley, the airport, the rest of the world. The three pines, I say, pointing, their shapes stabbing up like picador’s lances, the pines. We walk there, our feet never seeming to touch grass. Finally we reach it, the darkest spot in all of the valley. We are standing on stone. You strike a match, and there it is underfoot, the name we’ve been looking for. We have to hurry – there’s not much time. We stoop first to clear away what pilgrims have left – bottles of French wine, scrawled diaries of heartbreak, a six-toed cat’s paw. We work. Prying at the slab, we strain to lift it – it has to weigh half a ton or more. But we’re young and strong, our intentions true, and the stone flips to the ground with a deep thud. We dig through the dark Idaho dirt, nourished this half century by the natural processes of the dead – and then we hit something solid. We scrape and clear. On the count of three we lift the coffin lid with our fingers to find – nothing. Nada. Nothing inside except plush buttresses, a bit of dirt. No decay, no putrefaction, no defeat. I grin at you. See – he was right all along, I say.

 

 

 

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© Seth Augenstein