The Reaper’s Gardener

(Thank you to once again for a wonderful photo to inspire me as a writer. Hopefully this story much like Picture Of A Man That Couldn’t will be picked as the winning story.)

I watch a burly man sweat as he labors away in the hot sun. He keeps his head down as his spade digs the earth up upon itself. I know he is digging for me. How could two men, such as him and me, be so far from each other and yet still have something in common? Him a Gravedigger, me a Duke. I have all that a man could ever ask for, riches, comforts, never an empty stomach when I lay my head to rest. Him, he has a name, a hut, seven children and a way of life that most would never think about twice. He loosens the soil, moves it out, and digs our deathbeds. Then when the hole is made a home, he fills it back in moving on.
His name I don’t think I will ever know. I lay here in my bed with more pillows than his head has ever dreamed of. He digs. His shirt unlike mine was never truly white. His shirt was always the color of tea and every day he wears it is steeped deeper within the earth’s essence.
I watch him from my sick bed, as the Reaper comes from so far away. This man that grows stronger and sweats harder than any other that I have ever watched. His work is such a force of labor that I feel as if he could put entire armies to shame. The strength it takes to place more than seventy men beneath the earth is stronger than one needs to send those same men to war. When a Duke such as I sends those men to fight for his land and his brothers kingdom, he has hope that those men can come back. Those men can be victorious, and it is the Duke’s memory in the mind of those men that grows fonder when they do. It is those men’s faults when they do fail, never the Dukes.
The Gravedigger on the other hand, how can he have such hope? If he hopes those men the best then his families’ lives are at stake. By the time he meets these men they have been vanquished. He measures them using a type of measurement that is unique and under used. He knows my height by the look of me lying in my bed. He knows my weight by the way my mattress sags. I see his wooden outline around the hole he digs. I could lay within it like I lay upon these soiled sheets. Never to roll over again.
I watch him in his muddy shirt as the rain washes him off, his huge strong body steaming. He pulls up the last pound of dirt. He places it in the pile. There with the rest of the earth he removed. The hole is taller than I am. He stands still and slowly looks up right into my window. He nods his head respectfully. After that he gestures to the roses, to the lilies and the daises. He makes sure to show me the lilac bushes, as well as the baby’s breath. The flowers and the gardens that were planted for me and my kin lie between me and him. I now see him as more than just a gravedigger, he is the Reaper’s Gardener and he going to carefully plant me. He is going to put me in like every other man, child, or woman; a seed to grow into the next life.


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