Photo by Dima Pechurin on Unsplash

On consideration, Orlagh should have favoured comfort over the more aesthetic setting of a church yard. Less dirt, that way.

She chewed at her fingernail, flinching when the sharpened tip sliced the inside of her lip. Licking at it, she couldn’t taste blood, which was a shame, since that was sort of her thing now. There was no chance of being disturbed, since the shops closed at five and even the petrol station, that might be open all night in a place like Dublin or even Letterkenny, closed soon after.

Patrick looked peaceful lying on the ground. Sean, less so.

Tilting her head, she paced around their bodies in a circle, toying with the silver cross around her neck. Both of their faces were bloodless, since the majority of it had pooled under their heads, soaking Patrick’s long hair until it looked black under the half moon. They’d taken hers eagerly to begin with, the brothers sharing a look that said, maybe she was on drugs. Maybe she’d fuck them: they could share, or even better, she might share the coke.

It was a farming town. Ketamine didn’t look like this on a girl.

“Stop it,” she ordered, nudging at Patrick. His stillness was all the answer she needed. Patrick’s cheeks were stained red from when he’d pulled away, but Sean had kept his lips on her wrist until Orlagh had been the one to pull her hand back.

She turned away, eyes trained on the road. Their car was simple enough to drive even without lessons, but the moment she got onto the motorway that would take him to the hospital she’d be fucked.

Maybe she could make it look like a car accident.

“Orlagh,” came the moan from a few feet away. Sean was still thrashing, of course. She hadn’t been that dramatic.

“Shut up.”

“Orlagh, I don’t feel right,” he insisted.

She sighed, tossing her hair. Her dye job was holding up tremendously, because she didn’t shower any more. The red had cost her a hundred euro in the city, and that was before tip.

“You’re a pervert.” She pushed his head until he faced the sky, eyes no longer pointing up her skirt. “You’re awake, aren’t you? Better than him.”

Sean paused in his wailing and wriggling, lifting himself up to rest on his elbows. Eyeing Patrick, his eyebrows shot into his fringe.

“Fuck. Is he, you know — dead?”

Orlagh shrugged, crossing her arms.

“How am I supposed to know?”

Frowning, Sean reached out a hand, making an experimental fist. His face lit up.

“This is class.” He pushed himself to the balls of his feet in a blink and came to stand over her shoulder. They peered at Patrick with bated breath, before Orlagh remembered that oxygen was surplus to requirements.

“We should bury him.”

Orlagh spun to face him.

“What the fuck, Sean? Your mum is going to kill us.”

“I’m the good boy,” he said, tugging her against his body with an arm around her shoulders. “Patrick always promised he’d look after me, mammy, but then he got in that car with some lads. I tried to stop him… but you know how he gets.”

She stared at the ground, dragging the dirt into a mound with the tip of her boot.

“It’s not like I forced him,” she agreed.

Sean stretched, shrugged, sped off in the direction of the shed, well-loved by underage smokers and exasperated fathers alike. Within moments he returned holding a pair of shovels, jumper streaked with mud.

“You know he keeps whisky in the tool box,” he said, offering her the smaller of the two, but Orlagh pulled them both from his grip despite his confused expression.

“That’s why the flower beds are so wonky.” Trudging ahead, Orlagh tossed another command over her shoulder. “Bring him, then.”

The moment they reached a promising-looking patch of ground, the shovels clattered to the ground, followed by Patrick’s prone body. Orlagh winced.

Sean squeezed at her shoulder, but she shoved him off, focusing instead on the frozen earth. The handle of the shovel was rough with chipped paint, but light as a cigarette, her muscles flooded with new strength. The sky began to flush pink by the time the hole was halfway big enough.

“It gets easier the deeper we go, eh? At least it’s warming up.”

Sean propped the tool against the side of the hole, stripping off his jumper with all the flourish he could muster.

“Fancy getting breakfast after this?”

Orlagh froze, tipping her head towards the clouds that had rapidly shifted from a drab blue-grey to white suffused with dawn’s brightness.

“It’s morning,” she whispered, cheeks draining of what little colour they had left. “The sun is coming up.”

Sean frowned, but realisation flooded through him, eyes popping.

“Into the hole,” Orlagh snapped. Dragging Patrick’s body towards the edge, she gave a grunt of effort as he toppled to her feet. The dirt was cold and wet between her fingers, soaking into her sleeves as she scooped at whatever earth she could reach.

Sean jumped out, making quicker work of the rest of the pile, before burrowing down beside her. Even bracing her hands against her face, the clods he threw her way still wormed their way onto her lips. She tensed. Worms. Worms lived underground.

“Orlagh?” Sean shuffled beside her, failing to stretch out. “How long are we supposed to stay here?”

“Until the sun sets.”

Something brushed against her leg.

Sean’s scream was pain, radiating through her skull, drowning out her own. Seconds passed, and then they were still, straining to hear.

“Lads?” Patrick’s voice was muffled, face down in the dirt. “Why is it so dark?”

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