Through Wooden Bone and Slate Skin

Lynn Love, a writer living in Bristol in the UK. is our next guest poster. If you find her piece as creepy as I do, click like and let her know in the comments. Or better yet, visit her at Word Shamble.

Through Wooden Bone and Slate Skin

by Lynn Love

A boy lives in the roof. His scent is slate and warm pigeon breasts on crisp winter mornings. Stolen feathers prick his scalp instead of hair. A flightless fledgling, he’s compressed by roof tiles, body bulging between the slats.

I visit each suppertime, my body bowed under the low roof, limbs a geometry lesson of angles. My foot scuffs the cardboard box marked Christmas – it tinkles with winter-time, showering the floor with a boa of fairy lights. The boy comes to me, tickling my cheek with his musty down and dead mites. He asks me to stay and I’m willing-unwilling but I sink to the floor anyway and listen to him creak-speak, thick, soft dust a cushion under my knees.

He whispers of the stars, the drift of a million suns that wink and shimmer, accentuating the sky’s violet shadows. He bellows of the storms that have shuddered through his eaves, shaking plaster dust from his joists, threatening to tear his wooden skeleton from his slate skin. He drones of the bees, their waxy hexagons that tunnelled through him until his hollows shook with waggle dances and sung with the hive mind. Disturbed, the honey drips and congeals in my eyes.

He asks to take my hand and instinctively I reach for him. I yearn to count the stars as friends, to feel myself expand beneath the sun’s warmth. He creaks, timbers groaning like a squall-battered mast for need of me.

I love you more than the dawn, he chitters. More than the bees. I’d snuff out a thousand worlds for you.

Then I smell his breath ‒ wind-dried skin and bone, cement ground to powder by damp and time ‒ and I kiss him once and stumble away. The Christmas box tips, falls, wreathing the boards with unlit bulbs.

There’s another boy ‒ my boy ‒ who lives in the cupboard at the top of the stairs. I run to him as the roof shakes and moans, as brick-dust salts my hair and gums my lips. The boy’s door swings open with a sigh and I step inside. I burrow into him, rip through layers of his wallpaper ‒ floral, stripe, a mirage of birds in gold wire cages ‒ and dig my fingernails into his plaster, searching for his rocky heart. I follow the pulse and thump until I find it, lay my palm over the beats that come faster for the touch of me.

The boy in the cupboard never begs me to stay. He promises nothing as I curl in his darkness, my hand on his mineral chest. Soon I’m as cold as he is warm.

There’s a boy in the floor who stares through gaping knots and cracks between boards, with his woodlouse eyes, his cable lips and tied-up tongue, limbs tangled with tumbleweeds of hair and shreds of bloodstained newspaper.

I never talk to him.

12 thoughts on “Through Wooden Bone and Slate Skin

  1. I love the fact we might be afraid but she is not. She feels longing and love for something that scares the hell out of us readers. Beautiful!!


  2. Pingback: Tis the season … to be scared witless | Word Shamble

    • What a great introduction to your writing Lynn. So many jewels in this, but mainly I was sucked in from the start. Funny, I was trying to get at a similar theme in the post Walt featured of mine on here but it evaded me I think through rewrites — that homage to the Tell-Tale Heart, to feeling something is just on the other side of the plaster or the floorboards, that borderline madness. Will be reading this again, too. Cheers, – Bill

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Bill. Very kind of you. I’m not sure what my intention was with it, but I just loved the image of the boy in the roof – part human, part building, part bits and pieces he’s picked up over the years. I’m not sure whether the narrator has trapped him there or not, but she’s definitely conflicted about how she feels about him and haven’t we all known people like that?

        Liked by 3 people

  3. Bloodstained newspaper… I love this, and I don’t just mean the bloodstained newspaper, though it makes a great ending, leaving me wondering whose blood it is, and why.
    All the same Lyn, I think it’s time you moved house.


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