The Bottom Of It All


by Lochlan Bloom

Where he first started digging, the top soil was soft and loamy. Down at the end of the garden, the idea suddenly just came to him. An initial burst of enthusiasm led him to remove nearly five feet of soil. In only three days. Near the back corner. Behind the trellis with the wisteria.

And then he forgot about it. For years. Let it fill up with detritus. A child’s slide, building waste from the time the bathroom was refurbished, a broken hoe, the motor from the old washing machine, a mudguard, a deflated football from the neighbour’s.

He was startled when he came back to it. Years later. Emptied it out again. How deep it went. Deeper than he remembered. There was more work to do. Undoubtedly. He started again. Even buying a new titanium-alloy spade for the task. He could afford nicer things by then.

This time he progressed more slowly. In fits and starts. He met new obstacles. Beneath the top soil was a harsh geography of obstructions. Concrete, stones, masonry blocks, discarded metal, plastics.

Soon he needed a ladder to clamber down each day. Each layer he removed created a new complication, a new intricacy, but always he hoped to make some significant breakthrough in his work, to progress just a little further.

It started to take over his life. He came to need a byzantine series of ladders and platforms to reach the base each morning. If, that is, he hadn’t slept down there. His friends rarely bothered calling round any more. He never had anything interesting to talk about after all. Except his project, the digging.

And when he wasn’t digging he was analyzing methods to reinforce the walls, to tackle subsidence, to offset the action of the water table. Planning, studying, developing his technique.

He spent many hours thinking about his task but still it agitated him when, as if out of nowhere, someone would inquire what it was all for. What was the point of all that digging? What did he hope to find? To achieve?

He knew no other way to answer than to point at his work and ask: What else can I do if I want to get to the bottom of it all?


About the Author:

Lochlan Bloom is a British novelist, screenwriter and short story writer. His latest novel, The Wave, was published by Dead Ink Books in 2016.