Fresh dirt makes easy digging, Bobby said to himself as he scooped the hundredth shovelful out of the grave. But even easy digging took a lot of work. He jammed the shovel into the dirt and leaned against the handle. Sweat drenched the armpits of his checked dress shirt with the top three unbuttoned to tell the world that, yeah, he liked to have fun. After hours of excavation, the hole only reached his waist, but he wasn’t digging for just his own benefit: three more feet and he’d save the world.
Three days ago, Bobby sat on his couch, drinking a cup of ginger tea before bed when he heard the news that shocked him so deeply, he set the cup down directly on the wooden coffee table. Coasters are for a world with a future.
Now he regretted the ring that he’d left, the future safe in his hands. Bobby didn’t see himself as a hero, as he kicked the shovel in and got one scoop closer. Just a citizen, fulfilling his responsibility. Another scoop, another, another, his heavy breathing announced his presence all over the graveyard. Loud enough to wake the dead, he laughed. If only. By the time he got five feet down, he wasn’t laughing anymore. Nothing but focus. Which is why he didn’t notice when a car rolled up near the grave, or when a footstep crunched a twig, or when a flashlight illuminated GINSBURG on the tombstone above him.
Yesterday, Bobby made the hardest decision of his life. He leaned against his reclaimed driftwood desk as his wife cried on the bed. Sob after sob, she didn’t understand. He told her that it just wasn’t safe in this country anymore, so he was divorcing her and reporting their marriage as fraudulent to immigration services so she’d be deported back to El Salvador. None of her begging could change his decision, though each time she pled with him to reconsider it cut him deeply. Of course she was afraid of change, but since she wasn’t willing to leave on her own, Bobby had to force the issue. He couldn’t risk the woman he loved living in a country where she’d lose her bodily autonomy.
Foolish, but possible to fix, he thought. Tomorrow morning he’d call the immigration service— or ICE, if it’s already in their hands— and tell them that he’d just been kidding after one glass of malbec too many. They’d understand. A light poured down on him and, based on this new information, Bobby updated his previous belief that he was alone.
“Why don’t you come up out of there?” The voice sounded like it was obstructed by something. Perhaps a mask. Bobby pulled his own out of his shirt pocket and tied it on, then climbed out of the dirt hole. His shoulders ached as he lifted himself out, and he rolled over onto the ground, unable to hear his thoughts over his breathing. The man who’d commanded him out didn’t have a mask on. Unsurprising, now that Bobby saw him. He wore a John Deere cap and a camouflage jacket, clearly some kind of redneck who roamed around the graveyard for fun. Or he’d come by to defile Ruth’s grave. Still, just because the two of them were opposed didn’t foreclose upon a friendly conversation.
“Hi there. What can I do for you?” Bobby resisted the urge to slip into a folksy accent, though he suspected it would’ve played well. He wanted to be present and authentic for this interaction with someone outside his bubble.
“You can… uh, stop digging up this grave and wait here while I call the police.” The man said.
“The police? What crime have I committed?” Such a shame that this man couldn’t bring himself to have an open discussion with someone whose politics differed from his. Maybe some discourse could de-escalate things. “I understand if you don’t appreciate Justice Ginsburg’s legacy like I do, but having different beliefs than you isn’t a crime.”
“Man, I don’t know what the hell you’re going on about.” The man pulled out a cellphone, and Bobby immediately grabbed it and tossed it into the grave.
“So now, let’s talk about this. We both need to get something out of the hole. That’s a compromise. Does that sound good?”
“Does that sound good? Look here you fuckin’ freak, get in there and get my phone or I’m gonna drag you to the cops myself.”
Bobby sighed. The polarization in this country had gotten so bad, so quickly, but he couldn’t let one radical stop everything in its tracks. Too many people depended on him. Luckily, he’d seen enough trolley problem memes online to know that this situation had a straightforward solution. While the man glanced away, presumably looking for other people, Bobby lunged at him and tossed him into the grave, then withdrew the shovel. The man shouted something, but after three quick hits, he didn’t protest any further. This created an additional challenge to dig around, but all kinds of sacrifices were necessary to save America. Bobby would get what he came for, leave the man in the grave, and everything would be fine.
Bobby looked up at the Supreme Court steps. The moment of national healing had arrived. But first, he needed to become RBG. The robes weren’t enough, and neither was the skin stretched over his own. It felt like tight gloves and socks, and the tension of her five-foot-long skin kept Bobby’s six foot tall body hunched over. Which was fine, he needed to be short. Even though he’d achieved her signature look, it comprised only half of what made RBG such a badass, and he needed all of her power to pull this off. He took a deep breath. Girlboss. Mindset. Slay. He ascended, alone on the steps as the wind blew the robe around his legs, no one to see the moment democracy roared back to life in the United States. Each step strained the pantyhose under the robe and the taut skin stretched beneath them, but he continued. This didn’t compare to the struggle RBG faced as a woman in a male-dominated profession, so Bobby couldn’t allow anyone to see him falter. Mindset. Girlboss. The people could not doubt that their hope had returned to them, full-strength. Slay.
When he reached the door, he glimpsed his reflection. RBG’s face stretched over his a bit imperfectly. The nose pointed up and off to the left, while the eyes and mouth all were a little too wide, so his own eyelashes spilled out over hers, and some of his mustache was visible in the spot where her mouth pulled into a constant wide sneer. But Bobby didn’t think anyone would notice. They’d be too happy to suddenly live in a country with hope again, a country protected by its divine mother. He guided RBG’s hand to the doorknob. Deep breath. Slay. Girlboss. Time to go to work.
The door rattled in place. Locked. With no time to waste, Bobby raised his fist to pound against the door, only to realize that RBG would not act in this manner. Bobby’s desires had to be subdued so that RBG’s wisdom could flood his brain and control his actions. Luckily, her skin had only allowed him to raise his fist the tiniest amount. Even her skin kept him safe from himself. So he tapped at the door, with insistence that he belonged inside and certainty that they’d let him in, as her skin told him that she would have. A half asleep security guard ambled to the door and opened it, then jumped backwards, eyes now wide open.
“About time young man. Excuse me.” The best RBG voice he could do sounded like a frog’s croak. “I need to get to my seat.”
“Um, uh, um,” the security guard babbled as he backed away. Bobby continued past him. A security guard’s shock ranked low on his list of concerns as a supreme court justice. As he and RBG came closer and closer to the bench, he felt a familiarity wash over him. She was gaining strength. Good. Bobby felt so tired and so ready for his part to be done.
RBG pulled her chair back and sat at the bench. She could hear sirens outside. The police, presumably coming to confirm that she was alive so they could spread the news. Everyone would be so happy to know that they were safe. Maybe Bobby’s wife could even come back. A supreme court justice putting in a little word with immigration services couldn’t hurt her chances of getting to stay. She tapped her fingers, fingernails clacking against the wood. When she imagined this moment, her fellow justices were present, clapping for her return to the highest court in the nation. But she didn’t need them. She banged a fist against the bench and croaked, “Abortion is legal.”
It echoed through the chamber, which felt like acoustics itself murmuring about this new chapter in her legend. Boots clomping against the ground overtook the remnant whispers. A swarm of police officers entered the room, slowly flanking her. “Fascism,” she said with a flourish of her right hand, “is unconstitutional.”
As she slammed her fist on the bench, she heard tearing so loud the police stopped in place. Clearly they heard it too. While she had their attention, she shouted, “Now get out of my courtroom. I have a country to save.” As she said it, the skin on her arm flew off, landing directly on the nearest police officer’s face. He crumpled to the ground, stammering as other cops discussed amongst themselves if they should pull the skin off of him or leave it.
The arm underneath, hairy and muscular, shocked RBG. For so long she’d been small and frail. She’d gotten used to her body holding her back, but now she felt her new body’s strength. Flexing her arm, she tore the remaining skin which surrounded that bicep. If these officers wouldn’t respect her towering judicial stature, then maybe they’d respect her new physical strength. She clambered on top of the bench, and raised herself to her full height, tearing the skin which kept her bent over, and left her croak aside for a deep, booming voice. “None of you can stop the march of progress. Girlboss! Notorious! Immortal!”
The police answered with three booms of their own, as bullets pierced through both layers of skin and sent RBG tumbling to the ground. Pain overwhelmed her as the officers closed in, guns still ready. This could not be the end. The country still needed her calm hand and brilliant mind, but she couldn’t move. Mindset. Girlboss. Slay.
Even trying to summon all of her strength, she couldn’t move herself from the pool of blood beneath her. Last chance, then, to guide the nation. Dying the second time should be easier, but her thoughts felt so slippery. She couldn’t wrangle them into a full sentence. Barely above a whisper, she said, “… notorious… immortal” and once again, her seat was vacant.