She's out of breath, my little marmot.
"You've got to dig deeper," I yell.
The muscles in her back are rippling, but she's making little progress. She'll need some encouragement. I get up off the grass and into my sandals. "I'll be back," I assure.
I flip her over, her claws in my face. "I've got something for you," I tease. I know she's trying to understand ‘cause she wiggles her nose. When I show her the tiny spade, her dark eyes light up. Her claws begin undulating like she's ready to swipe so I drop the gift onto her belly and roll away.
"My little marmot," I whisper. She's finally through, digging for so long—so many years I don't know how long. She can keep the spade. The earth she's moved feels nice, cool and loose. I push a handful of it into the opening, and then another. She squeaks—more happy than sad.