Night Work

by Evan James Sheldon

My father is digging a hole in the yard. It’s past midnight. He’s been at it for a while, I guess, since he’s grunting and buried past his hips.

Digging your own grave?

He doesn’t answer and the dirt keeps flying.

If you dig deep enough you might find treasure, gold or fancy gems.

He wipes his brow, begins again. I smoke a couple of Winston’s taken from his pack.

How’re those hands? Should have worn gloves.

I try to flick a filter at him but it goes astray, snuffed out immediately by the forming dew. I read somewhere that dew forms because cold air holds less water vapor than warm. I think about telling him that even air loosens its embrace without enough warmth but decide against it.

Why won’t you tell me? I ask.

He finally looks at me. Would it change anything if I did?

Something shapeless I hadn’t noticed lies still in the wet grass beside the ever-deepening hole. I take a step away.

And his shovel arcs silver in the dark. 

Evan James Sheldon‘s work has appeared recently in the American Literary Review, Cincinnati Review, and Maine Review, among other journals. He is a Senior Editor for F(r)iction and the Editorial Director for Brink Literacy Project. You can find him online at