She straightens slowly, having finished digging the hole in the earth. With a small gesture she wipes the dirt from her hands, glancing a final time at what remains at the bottom. It will not be like this again.
As if to greet an unseen companion, she raises a hand palm outward, only to brush the sweat from her eyes. Nothing to do now but pack the dirt in gently, a solid softness sifting from fingers to fill the gap of earth at her feet.
The last of the silty soil settles into place, and she thinks about how no one passing by will ever be aware of the life buried here. She supposes that most will be too busy grasping after the glittery things glimpsed above the ground, grabbing their attention, to ever ponder over whether anything significant might lie below their flurried doing, their hurried footsteps.
For now, this does not matter. For now she begins the waiting, the patient tending. She will return here, day after day, watering the earth, as people do with their tears. She walks home, leaving the little life to rest in peace, cradled in a cocoon of clay.
For a second, she forgets whether she has taken part in an ending, or a beginning. Does such a distinction matter, she wonders? How much of a difference is there between still living, and living, still.
One day, a little life will rise, tiny and trembling, springing into the season that bears the name of its becoming, up and up from the seed of its growing. Tomorrow, she will plant another tree.