It was raining. Soft, tiny drops misted down from the sky. They settled on the shoulders of his black t-shirt, his eyelashes and the tips of his hair. He paced the length of the grave. Heel-to-toe, back and forth across the damp earth. The shovel he carried loosely in his right hand dragged behind him. It was late enough in the day that the color had drained from the world, everything reduced to muted grey tones. The tall trees were now just black silhouettes against the darkening sky. It was quiet. He squatted down. His blue-socked toes peeked through the tops of his worn sneakers as they hung precariously over the edge of the grave. He lit a cigarette. Big, dark eyes stared intently at the glowing tip, as it turned from orange to cherry red. He inhaled deeply, smoking half the cigarette in one drag. That was his favorite part, the burn.

He sat like that for a while; chain-smoking, daydreaming, chin upturned to the sky. The rain dripped down his face, plastering his dark hair to his forehead. He was a beautiful boy. Yet, there was something entirely wrong about him. It was almost imperceptible, though still irrefutably there. Something that hid beneath smooth olive skin, and deep eyes fringed by pretty-boy lashes. Something that came out, in a smirk that sat more like a grimace on his features; and in the blackness of his eyes. Some people said they felt cold when he looked at them, like they had seen a ghost. Some said that they felt violated. God knows he didn’t care. No one really knew if he cared about anything. Not even him.

“So who the fuck are you?” He leaned over to read the headstone. “Barry Henderson. Barry Barry Barry,” He laughed, and it sounded like a feral dog’s bark. “You ever listen to any Barry Manilow? Barry? Was that your thing? Did you get off to that? I bet you were a ladies’ man. Did you cheat on your wife, Barry? I bet you did. I bet you loved chasing tail. I bet you even loved to watch the cute little butts of your nurses as you were sitting in a fucking chair and dying of heart failure.” The boy’s smile was mean.

He picked up the shovel.

“You know somethin’ Barry? You ain’t shit. You ain’t nothin’. That’s what they all say isn’t it? How old were you when you died?” He glanced at the headstone again; the top of the coffin was now sufficiently covered in soil. “What, eighty-two? Nothin’. Your whole life? Didn’t mean anything. Because guess what? You’re dead. You lived all that time and now you’re in a box. I don’t care if you made a million dollars, all you are is a worthless skeleton now.”

He walked back and forth across the length of the grave, kicking in the dirt now. “See, I’m about to be eighteen right now, and I think I finally got this whole thing figured out. All there really is to life is pleasure. You just have to take what you want while you can, because in the end, we’re all nothin’. You want sex? You take it. You want money? You take it. You want to get high? You fucking take it. What does it really matter? You live, you die, and then we’re all like you Barry, fucking worthless in the end. That’s what my dad says, eh Barry?” He threw the next shovel of dirt into the grave with particular violence. His calloused hands wound around the handle in a white knuckled grip. His breath came out in furious puffs. Anger sat firmly in the crease between his brows and hard line of his mouth.

“You know what, screw you, Barry.” He lit his last cigarette and held it between his teeth. “You know what? I hate you.” He was shouting now, his voice cracking with anger. “I hate your wife. I hate your -” He looked at the headstone, “Two loving children. I hope they all die tomorrow. I hope you’re all nothing.” He spit in the grave, his cigarette flying out with it.

The boy screamed. It sounded like the shriek of a wounded animal.

He cried.

He finished filling the grave, sobs racking his body. He clocked out. His boss asked him how many graves he’d gotten done. He answered twenty. He said see you tomorrow. He went home. There were no cars in the driveway. The house lights were off.

He went to bed.

 

Courtney Agnello is a first-year student studying Graphic Design at SVA. “Lately I’ve been practicing mostly fine arts work, but I’m also interested in creative writing and literature. I enjoy writing fiction and poetry, but am willing to try new things and experiment with style and subject.”