Hellbender, by Jason Jack Miller
If I could've carried her by myself, I would have. But just the weight of the pine and spruce box was more than I could bear alone. The linens that covered her body and her clothes, the last she'd ever wear, made her heavier. The coins that covered her eyes added a few ounces more.
I could've carried her, by herself, forever.
January wasn't a kind time for a burial, but we don't get to choose. Old Christmas hid the sun behind a flat grey wall of clouds. January has a way of taking a person's optimism and crushing it beneath its bony heel.
I'd take June, when long days kept wayward pessimism at bay for just a few hours more, when blackberry blossoms spilt over old stone fences while young rabbits got fat and lazy. I'd take Solstice over Old Christmas any day.