She wiped the sweat from her brow, never imagining it’d be this difficult.
But she had come too far to go back now.
Her heart thumped rhythmically against her chest as a cloud of fog rolled in around her feet. It rose like wisps of smoke, twisting around her legs. She kicked the air, willing the fog to disappear.
“I’m not a part of that life anymore,” she whispered. “I’m not going back.”
The fog receded, but stayed close, watching. It slowly crept across the place she stood. It thickened, until there was nothing but a dense, gray cloud surrounding her – but she was used to it.
Row after row of gray headstones lined the ground. Each one was marked with a number – proof of her past mistakes.
Since she was a child people told her to never go back to the place where the past was buried. Like the dead, it was meant to stay that way for eternity. Only trouble could come from exhuming the past, but she’d come here with the intent of doing just that – unearthing the things she’d done. She wanted to set them right, to make amends. As her feet carried her through the rows of headstones, a shovel slung over her shoulder, something in her head told her to let the past sleep.
Now, her eyes shifted from the pile of dirt beside her to the half-covered hole in front of her. They slid up the face of the headstone that saved her from making another mistake. She’d almost passed it, but it called to her in its own way, offering a second chance. Taking a deep breath, she rested her hands on the tip of the shovel’s wooden handle.
“I’m not going back,” she whispered, a thick strand of fog coiling around her ankle. Without taking her eyes off the headstone she yanked herself free from the darkness.
In one fluid motion she drove the rounded point of the shovel into the dirt, hoisted it up and threw it in the half-filled hole. She continued working until it was full, then, she patted the dirt down with the back of the shovel.
“No.” She twisted around in time to see the fog closing in around her, one last effort to keep her in this place forever. “I told you I’m not part of that life anymore. I’m not going back.”
The gray mass froze. She stared it down. Slowly, it thinned, revealing the light.
She turned back to the grave where she’d been working. With the last bit of her strength, she raised the shovel as high as she could and slammed it down on the pile of dirt. It broke in two and fell from her hands. She wiped her brow again, heart still pounding. For once in her life she felt proud of what she’d done, knowing this was the beginning of a new life.
With a smile on her face, she took one final look at the headstone. It read: Past Self.