The field ends abruptly here, the land has been scraped away to make space for another subdivision. Off in the distance a bulldozer sits unattended. He snorts, an almost invisible wisp of steam leaves his nose. I imagine a younger version of him, with more thin blond hair and whiskers on his chin. I imagine him running out in these fields after school to train for races. I imagine this field in summer, all greens and reds. I imagine him bringing a girl from school out here, she is standing where I am now but I don’t know what she is looking at. “Let’s go down there,” he says.
Our sneakers slide as loose soil and rock gives under our weight, instinctually I reach out and grab his arm. A second later we are standing at the bottom, he exhales loudly and looks back at me, he smiles a little.
“Stand here,” he says. He begins to wander the barren landscape, occasionally looking back at me for reference, finally he stops and waves me over.
“I think this is the spot,” he says gesturing at our feet. “There was this depression here, a low point. I think it’s filled in.” He points past me, “I would lean up against this hill and you could stare at the woods.” He points the other direction, “There were deer sometimes. At night you could look up at the stars.”
I imagine the milky way stretched out above the younger version of him. I imagine him laying out on a blanket.
“Did you ever sleep out here?” I ask.
“Once or twice he says,” his brow furrows a little. I step in like I’m going to whisper in his ear; this is the first time we’ve been alone in days. He looks at me for a second and then moves away, his eyes scanning the flat earth and the gray sky.
“The longer I’m here the less sure I am I remember it right,” he says to himself.
I’m an intruder here. “I’ll wait up there,” I say, pointing back the way we came. He looks back but doesn’t say anything.
My feet keep sliding back down the slope as I climb, my shoes fill with soil. I’ll wait till we’re back at his parent’s house to take them off.
I sit cross-legged in the dead grasses and fold my arms to cinch my borrowed jacket against the wind. I imagine a girl wrapped in a bright blanket, a stolen six pack of beer, his father finding him in the dark. None of those things look right down there.
I walk back to the edge as he approaches and offer him my hand, he takes it and I pull him back up. He is standing close now, he whispers in my ear, “Let’s go.” He smells like fresh earth.
TJ Acena, Excavation
American, b. 1982, playing from Portland, OR, USA
TJ Acena was born in Anchorage, Alaska, and currently lives in Portland, Oregon, where he writes on LGBTQ news and culture for PQ Monthly. He received a BA in creative writing from Western Washington University in 2005 and recently finished the writing and publishing certificate program through the Independent Publishing Resource Center. His poetry has appeared in Jeopardy Magazine and 4 & 20. He is also a contributor to the non-fiction blog Somnambulist. In Portland he has collaborated on Sidekicks with Action Adventure Theatre and Invasion of the Bicycle Snatchers and Erotic Shorts with The Working Theatre Collective.
Website: tjacena.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org