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Julie pulled the shovel out from her father's shed. As she did, she remembered the last time she saw this shovel, her father had to bury her dog, Spot when she was nine after he was hit by a very easily distracted man in a pickup truck. However, this time was much worse. She closed the shed door and stepped out. The house she grew up in stood tall to the right of her. She had so many memories in that house. From the time her first crush came to pick her up for her first date, to the time she was grounded for breaking her mother's favorite vase. Those times don't matter anymore, not much does. To her left was a field of corn that stretched taller than her head. When she was younger, her father had said that one day she would be even taller than the highest corn stock. Now Julie wondered if she would even live that long.
She walked onto the front porch of her house, turning her back to the corn and tossed the shovel to the ground, listening to the loud clang as she walked inside. The house was eerily quiet, almost dead in itself. The continuous noise of the air conditioner she had grown up with had come to a complete stop a few days ago. Same as with all the electricity in the house. Even in the farm a ways down the road the electricity was lost. At night the glowing light of the city had been swallowed whole by the darkness. In these last few days, it seemed that everything had.
The heat that came into the house made it scorching and she knew if she didn't do this soon it would be too late but she could already smelled it in the hot pungent air. She ran upstairs and into her parent's room, it was still there. The big black garbage bag was lying on the floor beside her parent's bed. The memory of her parents came flooding back to her, she loved them dearly. Her mother, not so much as they fought a lot. Her father called it a “difference of opinion” but Julie just tended to call it being a bitch to her only daughter but at the end of the day they still loved each other very much.
Her father though was different. He was the kindest man you could meet. Never raised his voice, was always so hard working and would go out of his way to help anyone in the blink of an eye. Julie started to tear up at the thought of her parents but she wiped them away. She had a job to do and she wasn't going to let them down. The smell though was so strong that Julie had to plug her nose as to not get sick. The garbage was full. She guessed it probably would be about 200 pounds. How was she to get something that heavy out to the yard. Julie was indeed a grown up of eighteen now but she still wasn't strong enough to move something like this. Her thoughts drifted back to her father for a moment. If he was here, he could help me. No, not now. Focus or this will never be finished. She thought for a moment but came up with nothing better. I guess i’ll just have to drag it she thought as she stretched her back, getting ready for the heavy lifting.
She grabbed the edges of the garbage and began to pull as hard as she could. It moved a little but not enough. This is gonna take awhile, she thought. Eventually, she was able to get it to the top of the stairs. She started walking down backwards while still pulling on the garbage. She took a moment to stop and hope that the bag wasn't going to rip. If it did, she would end up losing her balance and tumble down the long steps. When she got it far enough down, gravity took over and started pulling the garbage down the stairs. In that moment, she lost her hold on the garbage and it slide right into her legs. The force was too strong on her legs and they buckled. She fell forward onto the garbage and it slide past her and tumbled down the stairs, Julie followed suit. She tumbled down the stairs after it, flailing her arms to grab onto something, anything that would stop her falling but help didn't come. She finally crumpled to the first floor, smacking her head hard on the wood floor blacking out.
She awoke not too much later in a panic, “What happened? Where am I?” She sat up, painfully her head felt like it was used as a drum in a rock concert, pounding wildly. Her ears also rang and she could tell that she was bumped and bruised all over. Making her body ache and feel like it was on fire. Slowly, she got up (making her head much worse) and suddenly her knees buckled again. She used the wall beside her for support to stand up properly. She took a few deep breaths and began to relax. Feeling dizzy and disoriented. How was she ever going to do this now. She slid down the wall and began to cry, crying for the lose of her parents and for not being strong willed enough to do this. Crying in desperation but mostly it was a cry for help. She needed companionship as she hated being alone. She never could be alone for more that a few hours without having a breakdown. All she wanted was a friend, someone to help her through this. These last few days had been though and she tried to stand tall for her father but this was too much. She sat there crying on the floor for an hour before she finally calmed down. It wasn't so much calming down as it was just loosing the ability to be sad anymore. She picked herself up and whipped away the last few tears on her face.
She looked down to see the garbage bag lying there beside her. she noticed then that the bag might actually have been the thing to slow her down at the last moment. It might have been even worse if it wasn't there. She might even be dead. She smiled, it was her father. She was certain. Even in death he was still trying to protect her and keep her safe. She took hold of the garbage bag again, ignoring the pain in her body to the best of her ability and began pulling it to the front door. She swung the door open and pulled it through the doorway but the bag got caught on something. It ripped open slightly and a human hand flopped out onto the floor. Julie cursed and carefully put the hand back into the bag. She couldn't even think about what she saw. She knew that if she dwelled on it too long, she would begin to get upset.
Finally, she set the bag on the lawn. The hot summer sun beating hard on her face. Where am i going to bury this thing-no this isn't some thing, this is my father, she thought! Where would he have wanted to get buried? She scanned the area. That's when she thought of the perfect place. Right around the lake, just beside their home, where her parents first date was. She ran back into the shed and rolled out the old dusty wheelbarrow from inside. After much effort and a few breaks, she was finally able to get her father into the wheelbarrow. Bringing the shovel with her, she then rolled him over to the spot where her parents first fell in love and carefully placed him there. She felt around in the dirt for awhile, looking for a soft spot in the earth to lay her father to rest. After she found it she began to dig. Letting her mind wander as she did so.
This was sick, a daughter shouldn't have to bury her father in the dirt alone with nothing more than an old shovel and a few kind words to his memory but she kept going. She couldn't stop now. Its what he would have wanted. It took much longer than she had expected. She was only half way down as she thought she would need to be and the sun was already starting to setting. She took a second to breath, looked around and took it all in. She wondered what anyone else was doing now. Was anyone else burying a loved one right now? Is there even anyone else left alive? Of course there was, there had to be. The disease couldn't have wiped everyone out, could it? No, if she was left alive that had to mean others were alive to but why couldn't that include her family? She looked down at the garbage bag in sadness.
Suddenly she had the feeling of something watching her. She turned quickly to see her mother,standing just in front of the corn field. Her clothes were worn and tattered and she looked old and decrepit. All she did was stare at Julie with cold dead eyes. At first, she was almost excited to see her mother but quickly remembered her mother had been dead for almost a week. She was one of the first to become ill. She actually got a proper burial with a funeral and a reception and everything. Whatever was over there was not her mother. Julie blinked and her mother disappeared in an instant when she shook her head. It was just an illusion, she thought. She had hit her head pretty hard and probably had a concussion and was out all day in the hot sun. Julie played it off as overworking herself and went inside to sit down for a moment and to get a cold glass of lemonade. She ended up staying in for dinner as well. Having a few sandwiches and crackers was as she could scrounge together in her state but enjoyed her meal. She went upstairs and sat down on her bed. When she regained her strength, she would go out to finish the burial in the morning. The air would cool down at night anyway and slow her father's decomposition.
What started as sleeping the night off, only lasted a few hours. She awoke in another panic but this time she couldn't figure out why. She got up slowly as to not aggravate her migraine and looked outside. It was pitch black out there. She fumbled around in her room for awhile looking for the light switch but remembered it wouldn't work anyway. Slowly she creeped back into bed. Feeling like a child as she pulled the covers close around her. If there was anything she hated more than being alone, it was the dark. Being completely alone in the dark was a whole other ball game.
She softly began to weep again, “Why did this have to happen to her? Why couldn't she be the one that was dead? Suddenly, she heard a noise coming from the hall outside her room. She stopped crying and listen closely. It was the creaking of the stairs, “Oh my god, someone is coming upstairs!” That's impossible, she thought. Everyone else is dead. She realized the reason she woke up then. It was the sound of the front door opening. She was thrown into a blind panic and had no idea what to do. She quietly and quickly as possible, climbed out of bed. There was no way she could defend herself against whatever it was climbing the steps. She peered out the window. Maybe she could jump but it was far too high. She would no doubt break her legs.
That's when something caught her eye. Something dark and shiny. The light from the stars was just strong enough for Julie to see the empty garbage bag. It was torn to shreds lying next to an empty half dug hole in the ground. She knew instantly what had happened. The footsteps were just outside her door then. After all, bodies don't stay dead long now a days. Knock, knock, knock.