He flings her boots at her, and she watches in slow motion as they land, spraying dust and dirt from the barn. She had, earlier that week, worn those boots as she sang to the horses to calm her mind on a sleepless night. Promises shattered, she scrambles to pick up her boots, losing him and the horses, her only place of solace. Hope is gone. Her ears ring with his words, a broken record, only days earlier: “Come on home, honey.”
She had unearthed a fossil...
A slight bump, pearly white, attracts her eye. As she slowly brushes the dirt off the surface, she sees the bones: the hollow, dull eye sockets, disturbing jut of a dislocated jaw, gaping mouth. She notices how deep it is buried--the tip of an iceberg. Then, just as she puts her brush down to look closer, the wind, a whispered warning, stirs a cloud of dirt that settles over the remains, filling the holes and smoothing the jagged edges. In an instant, she forgets, consciously choosing to disregard those feelings of disturbance. She picks up her brush and hesitates, torn between logic and temptation. Compelled, entranced, she gingerly touches the bristles to the dirt. Maybe it won't be ugly this time; perhaps it wasn't as disturbing as she thought. She could have made it up--just her mind playing tricks on her. If she trusts her hesitation, though, she foregoes the excitement of discovery. But she has already seen what lies beneath. A glimpse should have been enough.
She cannot look away. Hesitation is devoured by anxiety; compulsion grows stronger, takes control. And she lets it. She sweeps the bristles slowly at first then picks up speed, furiously sweeping away the earth. She should have trusted that tug of hesitation, should have left the brush and walked away. She didn't want to see it; she looked anyway. The image, horrifying, discolors her own skin to match the gray of the bones. Frozen, petrified, she watches worms slither through cracks in the skull. The head is twisted and detached, unnaturally askew. The ribs are shattered, by knife or gunshot, where the heart once was.
She punishes herself. Self-loathing swells and festers as she resentfully reflects on her choice to dispel her better judgment. She avoids mirrors, afraid to see skin that remains gray. The horrifying truth of what she chose to uncover disturbs her dreams.
I awake, coughing, disoriented, clothes adhered to skin by cold sweat. Anxious, hollowed, robotic, I reach for a cigarette.
from "The Story of Ky" by smc