When Pranav looked back on it, he decided it could have gone a lot smoother.
“Well duh,” his best friend said. “Smoother? We have two bodies in the trunk. Two. That’s twice as many as I agreed to help out with.”
“Buck,” he said, slowing down when the speed limit decreased, “how long have we known each other?”
“Since I died of cancer at the old age of seventy nine.”
Buck was nineteen. A full half as old as Pranav. Yet he would say things like this. Much like he would lord over Pranav that he would live a year longer than him. Scratch that- lived. Buck always spoke of Pranav’s respiratory disease in past tense. The one he didn’t have at forty. Yet he was complaining about the two bodies in the trunk.
“Well, if you don’t want that to be the case, I could always drive three bodies to the docks instead.”
Buck was unaffected by the threat, but Pranav couldn’t make himself mean it. He hadn’t wanted to have the first two.
Two more hours to drive, the stench was going to be awful.
An empty amusement park has a certain type of creepiness that one couldn’t explain.
It was the type he liked. No one would describe him as creepy. Then again, no one would describe him as the type of person who liked amusement parks. Because he didn’t. At least, he didn’t like it when people were there. He liked it when it was empty and there was no one else there to get in his way. It meant he could enjoy the rides. It meant he could take his time.
Of course, there had to be one other person there. “This is only because I promised. As far as anyone else is concerned, I’m just doing checks on the rides.”
He nodded. He wasn’t going to get her in trouble. That wouldn’t be nice. Thank you, he signed.
It took her a moment. She was still learning. He repeated the motions, though she looked away halfway through. “Yeah, yeah. Go. Go where you want. I’ll make sure the ride’s going.”
He gave her a thumbs up. She snorted. Then he ran off to enjoy the creepiness of the empty park.
“We have discussed. You come to the Alcoves.”
The voice woke Emine up abruptly. She didn’t have to question what they were talking about. The voice was that of a dragon speaking the language the rest of them understood. Not Ramar, that much she could tell. Another dragon. Over the last couple of months, Emine had seen a lot of dragons. She could only keep a few of them straight in her head yet. Between them and the humans around, there were a lot of people to get used to.
They had to be talking about her. Sanni’s voice was angry. “No, no. You can’t do this to me. You don’t do things like this. What are you talking about?”
“The both of you are moving to the Alcoves now.” The dragon’s voice held no question.
“I don’t understand.”
“We like how she makes you act, Sanni. But other than that, you don’t need to understand.”
How she made Sanni act? Emine had no idea what they were talking about. However, it sounded as though that was all to the conversation. She watched the plants outside sway as the dragon took back off into the sky.
Getting out of bed, she had barely started to get dressed when she heard Sanni knock at the door. “Emine?”
She had tried to see this place as home, but it seemed things were going to change already.
Is it good or bad?
And why do I feel the desire to use it
Some sort of meter of
Patterns found in something, somewhere
Those rhymes, struggled to find
(and for some reason a struggle to spell)
That are pleasing to hear, but to read –
That would be homographs
Here in this poem
You won’t find them here
This place where I don’t know what is overused or understated or too short or too long
When you could write forever or stop
Should I write it then?
Because whether someone reads or not, it
Will be written
Reasons are not the same as justifications, and
everyone who says otherwise
are looking for excuses, which is
such a small word that doesn’t mean the same, yet
obvious thing as the reason I juggle
numerous words in poetry
Donald forced himself to focus on Rachel. “Why do you care so much while your dad only sees Marie as a renter?”
It was a simple question, but he could see it stumping her. Maybe not her own feelings though. Probably unable to understand why Marie didn’t mean as much to Kedar.
“Marie’s a real good person. She’s not looking for fame or anything, she wants to play her guitar. Make enough by that. But she doesn’t expect that to be everything. She knows that means a lot of work. And she works on it all the time. Dad set her a curfew where she’s not allowed to practice her guitar anymore in the garage.”
With Lori still holding the paper, Donald tried to remember all of the details of Marie’s photo. Every time he had seen her outside of work, it was just a familiar form in the distance. Glasses and hair dye and a guitar. And no home?
Something was wrong, more than just her disappearance. For the life of him, he couldn’t put a finger on it.
He stood in silence and stared at the hole in the ground. The ground was soft enough not to show the claw marks Aulis knew he would have seen there a few weeks before, before the rains had come. Before the rains made it easier. The hole was deep. He had made it that way.
Aulis thought he had buried his mother’s bones deep enough, that the grave had been hidden well enough under the brush and roots. He had been wrong. Obviously. The hole was now empty, the damp soil littering the entire area. The bone men had even taken the narrow cedar box, as they did when they came during the night and stole the past.
He should have burned her body. Aulis wasn’t an idiot. Everyone knew that and he had done it in the past. He had gone in his mother’s place. His mother had feared those flames though and begged him, as she began to waste away in mind, not to give her up to the fire. To do something else, anything else, to save her from that fate. Bury her deep enough that her soul could seep into the earth.
Kneeling down, he looked at his mother’s grave. There were some splinters left.
Perhaps the bone men had dug her out from underground.
Her brother had a thing about knives.
It wasn’t until she was fifteen that she realized there was anything weird about that. Not because of her brother. Her brother, who had display cases and the knowledge how to fix old broken switchblades, who taught her about sharpening and gave her the most important knowledge of all – it would hurt more to be cut by a dull blade.
It all appeared to be practical knowledge. Some of his collection was beautiful, while others were rare types. It was more interesting than a stamp collection. Of which she knew zero people actually did.
Then she mentioned it in class. Everyone had a reaction that told her something. Those who were uncomfortable, those who were a little too interested. She stood there in her new class and looked back at all these people and knew suddenly that her brother was weird to them. Whether they thought weird was good or bad.
And now she was weird too.
She somehow managed to balance precariously between being a complete pain in the ass and their only friend. Friend was pushing it, so they would never say it out loud. Associate. That sounded better.
“What did we find today?” they asked, wishing she would stop bouncing about the room so they could concentrate.
“Oh, plenty!” She nearly spun in a circle before settling down. There were times they didn’t believe she was real. Placing the wraps of cloth on the table, she let them to open it themself. Thankfully. She’d probably drop them on the floor after opening from all of her nervous energy. “What are we doing with them?”
They didn’t respond. Until they appraised the bones, there was little point in replying to her needless questions. They unwrapped each bone, looking them over and looking for signs of anything that might give them the immediate clue they were important.
No, not today. “We’ll take the samples and ship the rest off to the agency.”
She sighed, sticking her lip out in a frown. As if she were eight. “Aw.”
Perhaps it said something about them that she was the only person who wanted to work with them.
“What is your name, small human?”
Sanni appeared as fazed as the horses were by a dragon. Emine tried to act the same. “Emine.”
Ramar stared at her. Emine had the idea she shouldn’t look into her eyes. At the same time, she didn’t want to look like she was cowering. What the middle ground was between those two positions, she had no idea. She looked back, deciding to fix her gaze on a particular point on the bridge of Ramar’s nose. From there, she could see the dragon’s eyes without looking at them.
It still made her feel a bit dizzy. She heard a sound that she had no idea how to interpret. Something distinctly draconian, not a hiss or a growl. Like a sigh with clicks.
“What’s so funny?” Sanni asked.
“Nothing.” Ramar’s head pulled back. “You’ve picked well, Sanni. Good for you.”
Emine didn’t know what that meant, but Sanni’s face flushed slightly despite saying nothing. Ramar didn’t await a response either. She took off into the sky, meeting another dragon somewhere halfway up the closest slope.
There really were dragons everywhere. Emine stared for a while before looking back at Sanni. “Am I okay?”
Sanni started out of her thoughts and looked down at her. “Yes. Yes you are. Ramar is a little pushy, but she already likes you. That’s good. Let’s go home, Emine.”
Home. The word meant nothing to Emine now. But it was time to redefine.