Psychopomp Magazine Winter 2014 - Page 9

Kneeland | 5

She collects chicken bones. She hides them underneath a floorboard, behind the pantry door. The golden thread stays still. One day, when the man is gone, she goes to work with the bones of a hundred chickens. The thread works with her. She gestures at the bones. You will have another friend. The thread nods greedily. The golden thread unspools itself from her stomach, tightening around the chicken bones, knotting them together until they resemble a gilded human skeleton. She tops the skeleton with the empty bird cage, stuffs it with hay, covers it with a cloth sack and cuts an opening for a mouth. The golden thread twines itself through the bars, around the perch, out the opening of the dummy mouth. She lays the chicken-girl in the bed and pulls the covers up tight, then hides herself beneath the floorboards behind the pantry door.

When the man with large hands returns that night, he sees the form in the bed, hidden beneath blankets, the golden thread unspooled from under the sheets and looped across the floor. He is overcome with grief. He lifts the thread in his hands and throws his body upon the bed to sob, covering the chicken-girl, moving his large hands over the blanket, across the bird-cage head and chicken leg arms, as he did when he used to massage her dreams away. His tears soak the bed and the floor of the house. The house stays land-bound, burdened with his grief until, finally, he lifts the chicken-girl up, still wrapped beneath the blanket, the golden thread wound about his wrists, and carries her out to bury her beneath the forest floor.

She hears the door wide open, unearths herself from the pantry and escapes into the trees. She wanders and sits, sleeps beneath blankets of leaves, dreaming of the man with large hands. The forest is denser yet, the trees blocking out even a solitary bullet of sunlight. She realizes that without the thread to lead the way, she is hopelessly lost. She opens her mouth and the ghost of a birdsong escapes.