Alice slammed the dented car door and huffed up the stairs into her tiny, yellow apartment with red walls. The cold air bit at her even in the apartment, as she couldn’t afford the heat bill, not this winter. She’d neglected her studies to pay for independence. Had she stayed at home, she might have lost her mind, or she had already, the grabbing of insanity.
Her life presented challenges to her that seemed unfair. At eighteen, Alice thought she’d lived enough but realized the truth of the matter: she wasn’t dog shit, knew only shit. The wind may howl at her, a cat meow, but in English, she knew her place in the universe.
She threw her papers onto the kitchen counter and grabbed a glass of cold coffee from the morning pot. She saw it then: grave digger. The section of paper said it would give 10,000 dollars to whomever could find the Ring of Margaret, an old family heirloom lost for decades. Apparently, the seeker owned the graves, and they could be dug up.
Alice set her coffee down and saw the kids playing in the snow outside. The glass fogged up as she breathed hot air into it.
That afternoon, Alice drove over to the old woman’s house. From the paper, Alice gathered Mrs. Pottage was beyond rich at ninety nine, and she wanted the ring stolen from her, she was quoted as saying.
“Dear, dear, please come in.” Her voice shook like a chill. The smell of roses rotted the rooms and reminded Alice of a nursing home. While frail, Mrs. Pottage quickly went to the kitchen in the large house. She poured some tea and headed back to the living room where Alice stood. At least it is warm in here.
“I suppose you know what the job entails. Have you ever dug up a grave?” Alice almost spilled the hot tea on the white carpeted floor.
No, I, um, have not,” Alice replied sheepishly. She took another sip of warm tea.
“Well, it’s not complicated. I’ve got another male who is interested. I do believe it should suffice. I know you’re a hard worker.” The words struck Alice as odd.
That night the moon stood out in the sky, trying to save the prey and madden the lunatics.
“Hey, I’m Bill, and I guess we’re digging up ten graves to find some sort of ring.”
“The ring is hers. I want that 10,000, no questions asked.”
“I agree,” Alice said. Bill’s face possessed the loveliest color of blue. They seemed to glow in the night.
The two of them began digging into the hard ground. Winter behave poorly that year. Still, they worked on. The cold night dared them to ask for comfort, which they did not seek.
“Well, that’s the second to last grave. I think we’re close. The sun is rising. We’ve worked all night, geez.”
The last grave proved equally difficult to dig up. They put all their strength into each shovel. Alice’s eyes were laced with snow. She huffed and puffed, exhausted. Her long red hair kept her neck warm, at least.
Finally, after they dug the last grave, they pulled out a shiny ring from the skeleton. Then they screamed, piercing the early day. A crow cawed in the distance.
The skeleton jumped up and out of the grave. The hair fell down, an odd shade of blonde.
Neither Alice nor Bill could spill a word.
“That old hag trying to get my ring. Oh, don’t just stand there so innocent and cute. I know what she wants, and she doesn’t get it. It’s mine.”
Alice and Bill remained silent.
“Oh, she’s a gold digger, that old wife of mine. She’ll soon be under the dirt bed, too. I have guarded this ring for a century, in life, in death. Tell her to come out and join me.”
“You two aren’t mute, are you? I’m taking the long nap and waiting for Jesus. If you won’t get her, I’ll go back to sleep until she offers more of reward.”
Alice and Bill nodded, “okay.” They dropped their shovels, got in their cars and headed out of that greedy graveyard.