Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Digging Up the Past by Nikola Marshall

Digging Up the Past
By Nikola Marshall

Joey scooped a few spoonfuls of dirt out of a small hole. The work was hard and slow but he knew it would be worth it. The earth was hard packed and lack of rain hadn’t helped. A few more spoonfuls and he heard Mama calling him in for supper.

“What you been doin’ all day in that yard, boy?” she asked.

“Nothin,” he replied. It wouldn’t do no good to tell mama what he was up to. She’d make him stop or worse, stay inside reading or something.

The next day dawned stormy and raining. Joey sat in the screened in back porch and stared out across the yard. How he wanted to be out there in the yard, but Mama would have none of it.

Finally, the next day, the sun was shining. Mama had told him he could go out for awhile but not to get too muddy. Joey grabbed his spoon that he had taken from the silverware drawer and ran out to his hole. The rain had helped the mud fill it in a bit but he was undeterred. With a serious set to his young face, he began digging, flinging mud everywhere. The ground was soft today and he wanted to get the job done.

Mama called him in for lunch and scolded him for his dirty clothes, hands and face. He ate his sandwich and chips in silence and ran back outside as soon as he finished his last bite.

His task got harder as the day wore on. As the hole got deeper, the ground began to get harder again. But he knew what he wanted and he would get it and soon. Joey finally decided it was time for something bigger to help him. He snuck into Daddy’s tool shed and found the old shovel. It was taller than him but he could handle it. He hid it as best he could behind his back and casually walked back to his spot. As soon as he dropped behind the little hill, all pretense was gone and he started working in earnest. The shovel was hard to handle at first but he soon found a method that worked for him. And the hole got deeper.

Not long before supper time, Joey struck something hard. This was it! He dropped into the shallow hole and began digging with his hands, scooping dirt off of the wood box and tossing it out. It stunk in the hole now, an unnatural stench but Joey didn’t care. He ran back to the tool shed, all worry of getting caught gone. He snatched a hammer off of the work table and ran back to his find. He wrenched the lid off and nearly falling into the box he caught himself.

He jumped back in surprise. He had been expectin’ to see his old dog, Hank. This wasn’t Hank! The thing in the box smelled like nothin’ he’d ever smelled. Its skin was stretched tight over bones, the eyes gone. The fur was matted and grayish, Hank had been black with a white muzzle. Its lips were pulled back into a grimace, exposing long teeth. Joey screamed at the demon dog thing.

Mama came running to beat the devil, tryin’ to find out what had scared her boy so bad. When she got to the hole, she froze.

“What’s this boy?”

“Mama! Don’t be mad, Mama. I just wanted ol’ Hank back. I saw Daddy dig this here hole and stick him in it. I just wanted ol’ Hank back!”

“Boy, you can’t go diggin’ up the past!”

600 words

© Copyright 2010 Nikola Marshall. All rights reserved.
Nikola Marshall has granted Knight Chills non-exclusive rights to display this work. 

You can read more this gifted writer on writing.com 


  1. Nice job of building the suspense and showing Joey's determination. My heart broke when I discovered the motivation behind his hard work and you left me wondering exactly what kind of grizzly secrets he has uncovered. Great closing line!

  2. This was cool, love the twist at the end. :0