Tunnel

When I’m depressed, I get as low down as I can. If the couch doesn’t cut it, I go on the floor. Then I’ll try the bed in the basement or the basement floor.

I was beating myself in the head, one day. I was beating my head on the basement floor. I couldn’t think of anything. When your head’s an empty ballroom with a dead balloon on the floor…

I touched my head. I couldn’t feel it. It wasn’t there.

Fuck.

I crawled upstairs and out the door.

I crawled across the backyard. A rusty nail went through my hand.

I crawled over some roses.

I grabbed a pickaxe and a shovel from the tool shed.

In the basement…

I swung the pickaxe at the wall. Digging down on a slant. Shoveling the junk behind me.

My neighbour showed up.

“Maybe you’re not depressed,” she said. “Maybe you’re just a writer.”

I kept swinging. A rock chip hit me in the eye.

My folks showed up. It sounded like them.

“I’m worried.”

“I’m worried you’re reducing your property value.”

I stopped for a second.

Then I felt my head. I could feel it a little. I thought.

I kept shovelling. I cut a salamander in half.

Fuck.

It was getting dark down there. Deep down. I felt depressed. I hadn’t felt that good in a long time.

I kept digging. I dug up … it looked like the skeleton of a little animal. Maybe a cat. It was too dark to tell.

I had a cat once.

“You’ve gotta stop sometime,” said someone.

That terrified me. There’s an elevator in my throat. It went all the way up.

I kept swinging.

The tunnel was twelve feet deep, now.

I felt my head. I could definitely feel it. It was there. But…

“You’ve gotta stop sometime.”

Fuck it, don’t think about it.

I looked back at the mouth of the tunnel. For just a second. The faces…

They looked just like teeth. Like white teeth.

I kept swinging. I kept shovelling.

I had a headache.

I hadn’t felt that good in a long time.

 

                                                               

Rolli’s latest story collection, I Am Currently Working on a Novel, was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and shortlisted for the High Plains Book Award.

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