He Dies Where I Die
by Michael Harris Cohen
Dion spun back to the oval of daylight and said a prayer. He didn’t pray to Jesus or Qamata. He prayed to his father, ten years lost and dead in the mines.
Watch over me. Lead me to gold and back to the light.
He sniffed his last lungful of fresh air, jasmine and pending rain in it. He pulled on the dented hardhat—a hand-me-down from his father—flicked on his headlamp and descended.
Two hours down, back squawking from the constant crouch, the tall man’s misery in the mine, he thought of Thabo though he tried not to.
Thabo’d be pissed if he found out. When. Thabo’d know, he always knew, and it wouldn’t be about gold—he’d cut his boet Thabo a share of that. He’d be pissed about the Zama’s code, how Dion broke it going under alone.
“I die where he dies. He dies where I die.” That was Thabo’s mine entrance prayer and Dion’d heard it a hundred times. Always together. Down for days and even weeks in the abandoned shafts and dark. Digging. Trading jokes and joints and dreams, ready to die together. Because a Zama Zamas never goes or dies alone. (Continue Reading…)