"Digging Deep" is up at Every Day Fiction today. I think they're switching servers tomorrow, so it's only appropriate the last story before blackout is about death. Sort of.
Let me tell you about "Digging Deep".
Here be spoilers.
Read the story first, if you would.
wrote "Digging Deep" shortly before Aimee died and submitted it one
time before my hiatus and return to writing. It is a story about death
as I mentioned above, but more. It is a horror story, but not a Horror story.
"Digging Deep" talks about Truth like I hope most of my work does. Although I've capitalized it, this Truth is human-truth, not God-truth. I'll leave that for the theologians.
want readers to understand what moves the narrator. This is a story of
big revelation rather than big events. It's not about what happened to
the mummified remains the narrator helps to exhume or the horrors which might lurk on the English
countryside near his home. No, it's about real horror--horror any of us can feel.
On one level, there's the horror of losing a child (or any loved one). You
see, the narrator feels the connection between his daughter, Ellen, and the
awful things they dig from under the standing stones. The braided hair sets him off. My grandmother buried both of her children--my Aunt Norma Jean (who I never met because she died at 21, decades before my birth) and my father (brain cancer shortened his life). I look at my own kids, those with whom I share genes and my stepchildren, and can't imagine--don't want to imagine--such terrible ends for them. I fiercely love Kim, and the thought of anything, anything happening to her abhors me. Anyone who loves so fiercely can feel the inevitable pang of death. So yes, death stalks the narrator as it does all of us.
But that, dear readers, is only a bit of the story--even for a tale just shy of 1,000 words, there's more.
"Digging Deep" is also about the horror which comes when people become little more than objects. The mummified bodies, once living, breathing people (again, the braids), are now objects for the university men. Waxy broadens the theme when he talks about the barmaid, saying, "Wouldn't mind a roll with that one," making her little more than a sexual object. For the poor narrator, Ellen becomes a thing--both an object for the "university men" and, by extension, a sexual object for men like Waxy--as he connects the dots between the three. In the end, especially in the end, death leaves each of us nothing more than objects.
Yes, that latter bit is implied. It's what the story means to me, now, nearly two years after originally writing it. But the truth--and the truth of all fiction--is that any reader's reality is just as valid as mine.
I've written the story and now it's time to share.