The bones they dig up are not my bones. These are small and birdlike with thin, rolling flares at the edges. A digger picks one up and gives it a thoughtful little lick with the pale, dry tip of his tongue. He nods, slowly. My herb garden has grown wild and the sunrise smells of thyme. One digger tears a handful of leaves from the pot of basil and rubs them on the back of his neck; another hoists himself up the lemon tree and fills his pockets with fruit. The third one piles the bones on a white sheet. The bones are mossy and grey and old, old.
A man in uniform arrives, pausing by the vegetable patch. Everything I’d planted lies in disarray, gently rotting. This is not my labor of love. But he doesn’t notice: he cuts straight through it, unchecked. And then I feel it, as his shoes sink into the black mud, crushing the unripe greens—a strange thrill sweeps through me and I want to rip the skin off the world. A dog somewhere goes wild. Then he’s crossed the patch and my shudder ebbs away.
The diggers stand in a row, leaning on spades, and watch as the man takes out a pen. He sticks it in the eye socket of the skull, rolling it over.
“Not her,” he says, “but still pretty.”