The old tree against his shoulder, upon which the side of his head rested, made no comment as Dan vented his frustrations. Catalog of woes completed, the young man noticed the somber shade of the clouds scudding across the reddening sky. The forest shadows had grown long and only a few dim pools of light painted the leaf litter.
"You're a good listener, Mister Tree," Dan said, "but my mom was a real clever talker. Know what she always said? She said, 'Never let the sun go down on an argument'." He straightened up and gave the tree a hearty slap on the side. "We're two peas, you'n me. I'm dumber than a post too, old buddy, but I ain't dumb enough to ignore my momma's advice. I got some apologising to do." He pointed at the sky. "And I ain't got long to do it!"
Dan set off at a breakneck pace through the forest, leaping from stumps and ducking branches. The rightness of his decision filled him up like he had a fat helium balloon for a soul and he wanted to soar. He fought down a holler, aware that his apology remained unspoken.
The notion to stop came a little late to check his speed, so that he stumbled and slid to an ungracious halt next to Maria. He hunkered down beside her and grabbed her hand, wrapping both of his hands around her fingers for warmth.
"Listen, sweetheart, I was wrong," Dan said. "You shake me up like a soda pop, baby, but I shouldn't be letting it bother me so. I apologise. I sincerely apologise, and I hope that you can find it inside you to forgive me."
The sun had set some time ago when he finally let her hand drop. With a sigh, he pulled the shovel from the pile of loose dirt and started to fill in the shallow grave.