Psychopomp Magazine Summer 2015 - Page 14

14 | Psychopomp Magazine

Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

No Eyes

Alice knew she was not what the skeleton wanted. There were no eyes in his head. How could he tell her she was beautiful with no eyes in his head? She needed that affirmation like she needed a glass of water in the morning. She wanted to gulp him down. Wanted to rub her hands across his sockets, inside, up and down the barren bone. She never thought she would feel that way about a skeleton, but he was something. Reminded her of a husband she once had. She wondered why her husband had not come back the way this stranger did. She was not what this one wanted; he had come looking for a woman long moved on. A picture in the skeleton's bone fingers, dirt-stained and rotting at the edges. The woman not as beautiful as Alice, her face too long, her body too thin, as if she were starved for attention, as if the skeleton beneath her own skin had been trying to break through. Alice did what any woman would have done when the skeleton first knocked against her door: she asked him in for tea.

The tea she had was old, loose leaf brittle in their cups, but the water revived it. She stirred in honey and placed his mug before him at her table. This, she thought, is how a true lady behaves. She had dressed that morning in a lace gown. She couldn't sleep in it—the silk itched as she tossed and turned in the night—but it was nice in the cool, October morning air. It was nice against the glass of her bedroom window as she stood and let the wind in through a mesh screen. The skeleton said nothing about the gown. Of course not. There were no eyes in his head.

When he had knocked, a tinny knock, on her door that morning, he'd had that photo in his fingers. "No," she had said. "I never knew her. She had the house before me." The skeleton stood there with his sad bones. As if he slouched to the bad news. "But please, please, come in for tea." She grabbed his finger bones; they crunched. She loosened her grip. Pulled him into the house, his bones powdery and gritty and yellowed