At six o'clock on a foggy October morning, Ellis finished burying the previous day's bottles in the empty half acre behind the courthouse. He'd begun the task at sundown the evening before, thinking that he was allowing himself plenty of time, that surely he'd get to bed by his usual hour. They were small bottles, after all, and didn't need to be buried deep. But the soil was harder here than elsewhere in town, and, though he tried not to, he couldn't stop himself from holding each bottle up to the moonlight to attempt a peek before setting it into the earth.
"You been out there all night, El?" his wife asked, when he was back at the farmhouse, finally undressed and sinking into the bed beside her. Her eyes remained closed as she spoke, her voice muddy through sleepiness.
"No," he said, "I've been home a while."
He waited until her snoring resumed and then he shut his eyes. By eight thirty he'd need to be up again. There was so much left to do in town. All the house calls to make, consultations to give, bottles to collect. He thought of all those secrets under the turned earth, trapped inside the bottles the size of a child's fist. Some of them, when held up to the moonlight, had revealed themselves. But most had not. There was only one he didn't bother holding up, because it was his own. That bottle he buried last, and buried deeper than the rest, tamping down the coarse red dirt until it looked like it had never been disturbed in the first place.
Fiction Friday is an outlet for experimentation while I work on my novel. Read the rest of the stories here...