Emily's body is getting frailer as the days pass. I am silently praying she isn't sick, but she shows no signs of the Back Plague. Just dying of sadness and death itself. We all fear it so much, it might as well just kill everyone now, and claim it's prize; although no one really knows what that is.
I do not believe for a moon that it is God's holy doing- if holy, then why kill all the worshipers? What is to be His prize? Are the people of this Earth at his hands, at his entertaining thoughts? Practice for greater gain of death and power over those left over- that is what the Great Priest of France says. Even though he is of no more passage to God as I, more will believe him rather than the poor, lonely boy with only one parent. I would not apprehend them, although I am that boy.
"Wiggins get your backside here before we throw old Miss Elizabeth on your lunch!" One of the grave-diggers call, mocking me with a dead, purple body, full of puss bubbles the size of my fist. A Plague victim.
I stuff my tiny notebook deep in my ragged pants and join them, picking up a wheelbarrow of more victims and dumping them all at once in a ditch that was dug last night. The smell is disastrous, and the feeling of just throwing the sacred dead around like dolls even worse. I tie my sweat-soaked handkerchief around my nose. The others laugh as they dump twice as much as I, in half the time. Being as young, I do not carry their scale of muscle. They join in galleys and songs I have no yet learned, dance with each other as if we are in a beer hall instead of burying tens of dead people a day. And for what? What little compensation the families of the dead may give us? If it is tiny pay, then why is there work? Because there is nothing other to do. Everyone has already claimed a better chance at money or is either already, or waiting, to be in one of the ditches before me. What do I get, two silver coins every merciless day- not that I'd rather die.
"Closin' time, lads. See ya'll in the morning." Bellows the biggest man on duty. The night-shifters will come in a few hours, finish up filling in the ditch, and dig more wherever there is space. Never once does anyone wonder -except me- what happens when there is no more space? We are already an hour's walk from the town; which is pilled to the skyline with rotting bodies already, so when we are all out of rolling fields and abandoned farmland, what happens? Do we just stop burying them?
"Aye, Jacob. Where you headed?" A boy a few years older than myself beckons over to me. I put my head down, and slowly walk toward his waving hand.
"Home, got nowhere else to be goin'." I mutter. He laughs, spraying me with a blast of breath that could have even caused the Plague. I try to smile, but my face stays in the same frown as has been since my father died, and the Plague started.
"You ought to come on out with us. Got no time left, why not drink to death instead of suffer, eh?" This isn't the first time I've been asked this.
"No, I wouldn't be doin' any of that now. But have yourself a good time." He looks away, for a long while, before answering.
"All right, you take care of yourself. I'll see you tomorrow." His gruff voice carries off as he goes to join one of his even rougher-looking friends. They act like they're drunk already now.