Waste Not

Here’s a bit of flash fiction I wrote a few months back. I decided not to pursue it further, but do believe it’s of a shape to be worth reading. Hope y’all enjoy!


Sam drove his spade into the loamy earth. “Y’know ‘Arry, it just don’t seem right,” he said, wiping sweat and muck from his palms.

Eh?” Harry grunted. “What don’t seem right?”

This whole business ‘ere. I’ve been thinking—”

You? You’ve been thinking? Oh, that’s a rich one mate, that’s right rich.” Harry spat, and stuck his shovel into the mound of tilled dirt. “Here we are, five years onna job, and now you want to start thinking about it? Too late for that, much too late.”

Maybe, maybe,” said Sam. His spade struck buried wood with a thump. “Not as late as this cheeky divvil, but time nuff for a drink and think. Heart’s still beating after all.” He squatted at the edge of the hole. A shadowed pit, barely illumined. It was just past dusk, and the moon had not yet risen. Sam had left a hooded lantern teetering from the outstretched arm of a necropolitic statue. Carved from marble, centuries of wind had softened its austere expression. Ravens nested in its hair, ten feet above the mudded ground.

Harry slid down the hole. “Alright then, alright,” he said, “what’ve you been thinking about?” His fingers wriggled wormlike into the dirt, beneath an oak box.

Well it’s just, it’s just that it feels odd. I’ll go and look in the mirror and shave and think God, who left one of those buggers in me privy? but it ain’t the job, it’s just me winking back.” Sam reached down for the box. “Heave now, good and steady.”

Piss off,” Harry grunted. “Know what I’m doing.” Slowly standing, he set the heavy box up on the edge of the pit. The night was filled with huffs and groans, as the two men scrabbled the box free. “Go get the horse,” Harry said, and he leaned against the statue.

A short time later, Sam returned with Loretta—the nag, named after Sam’s dead auntie—and the manor’s spare cart. “I think it’s about God,” he said as they hoisted the box.

You what now?” Harry asked.

My thinking, ‘Arry. I reckons its about God.”

God?” Harry rolled his eyes. “May the Lord so ‘Igh and Mighty ward and shelter me from you lot. God!”

Come on now ‘Arry, I’m serious!” said Sam. He clucked his tongue, and Loretta began to plod. “I know mister Grimes is a real gentleman, a real modern man. Always running about in suitcoat and with a proper ‘at and whatnot. But I can’t help myself wondering.”

Wondering what?”

This re-anny-motion stuff he’s been doing, it just seems a bit unnatural, you know? I just started figguring in my ‘ead that maybe it’s not quite right.”

Not quite right?” Harry coughed loose a deep guffaw. “Not quite right? There ain’t nuffink wrong with re-anny-mating. Why, my poor Grampy, God bless his weak ‘eart, he would’ve died out working the fields years ago. Stead, he got to relax all peaceful-like in his dotagery.”

Yeah, but now he’s the one pulling the plow,” said Sam. “It just don’t really seem right. He’s supposed to be up in Heaven plucking an ‘arp or something, not pulling plow.”

Harry sighed. “Sam, me fine friend, you just don’t get it. Didn’t you come along to Service last Sunday—and don’t you lie to me, I saws you there m’self. It’s just like Vicar Lewis sez; the flesh of man be fleeting, but his immortal whoz-gobble is free as birds.” As he spoke, Harry gazed up at the night sky, bedazzled with stars.

Vicar Lewis did not say whoz-gobble!”

Yeah alright, but you gets my point don’t you? What goes on with what’s left, it don’t matter much once your whoz-gobble’s floated off now, does it?”

And that’s where I was feelings for a long while,” Sam conceded. “But I was reflecting on Saint Paul last night, on account of my back not letting me sleep no more than two hours or so, ever since that time with the mulberry—”

Get on with it, get on with it,” Harry muttered.

Well in his blessed letter to the folk of Corinth, Saint Paul sez the body’s a temple. And that just seems like it don’t mean we can go doing as we please.”

Harry scoffed. “Oh Sam, poor Sam. Don’t you know that means we’re the holiest folk in all these parts?” He stretched his hands wide. “We’ve got more temples than any county from here to the Thames.”

Oh.” Sam flicked the reins, as they pulled up to the manor. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

Course you hadn’t,” Harry said. “That’s cause you ain’t been modernly eddy-cated.”

What, and you have?”

Me? No, no. But I went and talked to mister Grimes one time with much the same concerns, yes-sirree, and he settled me most comfortably. Very modern man, our mister Grimes. Quite modern.” Harry hopped down and tugged the box. “Now, help me get the old gal inside. He wants her pumping bellows tomorrow afternoon. Gaffer Charlie’s arm finally fell orf.”

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