The International Writers Magazine: Lifestories

The Garden Hole
Bex Wilks

Jon was always digging. Every day during the summer holidays he’d wake up, have his cereal and head down to the bottom of the garden, under the tree. The tree curved over and tangled into a bush, making a small cave for Jon and his sister to play in. Some days it was a living room with a branch sofa. Other days it was a prison with its many wooden bars keeping the criminals locked inside.

But whatever it was, there would always be a hole right in the very middle. Jon would start digging on the first day of the holidays and by the end of his first day back at school it was always filled back in. But he didn’t mind because summer was only a year away and he could begin again.

Nobody knew why he dug the hole. When questioned, he would simply shrug and so, eventually, people stopped questioning all together. The hole had its own little routine of course. After breakfast the digging began, at midday he’d have his lunch brought out. He’d eat it when the den was a living room and he had a branch to sit on. Sometimes friend would distract him from the hole, but he’d always check on it one last time before bed. - I cut this part when I read in class. I hadn’t been sure beforehand if it was really needed or not.

By about mid-summer the hole would be getting deep. In an attempt to judge exactly how deep, Jon would invite his sister to see the hole and tell her she could help him measure it. Always willing to be involved, his sister would agree and he’d help her down. Then she’d measure the top of the hole against herself and get out, showing her brother where it came up to. But as the summer went on, the hole got deeper and deeper and she couldn’t get out alone. And as Jon got older he got nastier and nastier.

One day, Jon left his sister in the hole. It was almost the end of summer and so the hole was deep and weather had grown colder. She could reach up and put her hands over the top, but was not yet strong enough to pull herself out. She called for her brother, but no reply came. She called again and again and again until her cries became desperate. Her brother had gone and she was stuck in a hole, all alone.
It seemed like hours passed as she cried for help and tried to scramble up the dirt walls, but the dirt just kept falling and nobody came, even as the sky began to turn grey as the rain clouds floated by overhead. Surely her mother would want to get the washing in?

The little girl waited, sitting on her skirt in the dirt. But still nobody came. Something landed on her head and as she looked up, another something landed on her nose. It was cold, wet rain! It began to fall all at once shaking the tree above her and making such a dreadful, noisy sound like cereal boxes being shaken. Her hands went over her head, but it was still no good. She was even sinking into the hole! She grabbed and pulled at the muddy walls but the mud just fell away. She was going to have to save herself.

She couldn’t dig down because she didn’t know anybody in Australia, and she couldn’t dig up. She was going to have to dig a tunnel under the garden to the house! On her knees she began to use both hands at once to shovel aside dirt, just like a rabbit. At first it fell away easily where it was wet, but the ground was dry deeper in. She kept digging, past the treasure and dinosaur bones until she could no longer hear the rain or feel the cold air. The tunnel was too small to look over her shoulder, but she was sure she would not see the end of it. She was getting tired and close to giving up, as tears poured down her cheeks and rubbed away the dirt. But she heard a sound. A scratchy sort of twitchy sound. She dug a little further and the mud collapsed into another tunnel!

She quickly crawled through and felt something warn and squishy under hands. It was rabbit droppings. With a squeal of disgust, she wiped her hand on her skirt and quickly moved onward. She could feel the breeze again and swallow fresh air. Following the light she kept crawling until she could pull herself out of the hole. It had stopped raining now and the sun was peeking through the clouds. She recognised the tree and the bench and the wall. She was next door!

She climbed over the wall and ran inside to tell on her brother.

© Rebecca Wilks Nov 2006
Bex Wilks <

Bex is studying on the Creative Writing masters at the University of Portsmouth
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