Psychopomp Magazine Summer 2015 - Page 15

Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam | 15

yellowed in the lighting. Peach tea, she poured for him, and he didn't touch it. What would a skeleton do with a woman? Alice couldn't imagine. He would not eat the meals she could cook for him. He could not touch her hair and tell her she was beautiful. He could not fix the bathroom leaks or start the fires or tend to her night urges or hold her when she sweated herself to a fevered sleep. These were things her husband had done. Things she had done for her husband. Together they had held a life in their hands which satisfied no one. "There," she said to the skeleton, "I've said it. I was not satisfied. What can you do for me? Nothing, nothing that he could do. That's the way I want it. I want it with a skeleton who can do nothing for me but let me touch his sockets."

The skeleton moved his jaw, but no sound come out. He moved his hand across the table as if searching for her. When she clasped her hand atop his hand, his bones shook with a shiver. She did not squeeze the hand in hers. She let go. She drank his tea with honey. She led him to the door and pushed his bone body out onto the porch. She could do nothing for him. She was not what he wanted, with those not-eyes in his head, with the bones exactly where man's bones always were. All the same. And in her gown, she felt the breeze on her skin like a kiss from lips that belonged to her, like a kiss from the lips on her own face. Skeletons had no lips, and even if they did, she did not think they would suit her anymore. ♦