You Dig?

He rolled his pant legs up to the middle of his calves. The heat was intense.

“You dig.” said the man in the straw hat.

He took hold of the shovel, felt its weight. Thought for the briefest of moments about swinging it at his captor, then began to dig.

“You dig faster.” said the man.

“I’m digging.” He said.

“You dig faster.”

He picked up the pace. The sweat coming quickly, the heat on his back. He could feel his clothes, feel his shirt hanging off him.

“Keep digging.” said the man in the straw hat.

“I am. I’m digging.”

“Dig faster.”

The morning passed like that and the noon day sun increased the pressure, increased the pain. His hands were soaked in sweat and blood, torn by the wooden handle.

“Stop.” said the man in the straw hat.

“Something to drink. I need a drink.” He said.

“Out of the hole.” said the man.

“I need something to drink.”

The man took hold of his shoulder, pulled at him. The man in the straw hat was small, was weak, much weaker then he was. He could break the man if he tried, but he didn’t try. Instead he climbed out of the hole, dropped the shovel onto the pile of dirt he’d moved.

“Go sit down.” said the man in the straw hat.

“I need a drink. I’m thirsty.”

“You sit.”

He found a tree, sat under it. The shade felt like heaven. Like a dip in a bottomless pool of dark, blue water. The man in the straw hat examined the hole.

“Needs to be deeper.” said the man.

“I need a drink. I can’t dig again until I’ve had something to drink.”

“Make it deeper.”

He thought again about harming the man. About charging after him, picking him up off the earth and shaking him. Of breaking his arms and throwing him in the hole he’d just dug. But instead he got to his feet.

“Get digging. You dig.” said the man.

“I need something to drink.”

“You dig.”

He picked up the shovel. He started digging. A few hours later he stopped. Every muscle ached. Every part of his body screamed in pain. He pulled himself, clawing, out of the pit. Lay panting on the sun baked soil.

“Here.” said the man in the straw hat.

The man handed him a pitcher of water. It was all he could do to take it, to hold it while he sucked his life out of it. Sucked down the water that would sustain him. He drank. He drank in the cold, the crisp, the life.

“Now you dig here.” said the man in the straw hat.

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