Saturday, 4 May 2013

Singing of bones

There, whilst the young man slumbered on, a formal dance began.  As if removing veil upon veil the skeleton shed the fishing net.  Gently dropping it to the floor, the ivory white toe bones kicked the now shapeless net under the fisherman's chair. Then the slender form twisted and stretched herself upwards, each movement accompanied by soft clicks as the bones realigned themselves.  Moonlight continued to steal through the cracks, illuminating and reflecting off the sea washed ribs, vertebrae, skull.  Fully upright now, she stood still, waiting.
Moment upon moment passed and still the skeleton did not move.  Behind her the young man shifted uneasily and nestled himself into his dreams, his hands pulling his coat to hold in the warmth.  Outside the hut , the North West Wind blew around the brick, under the door, down the chimney and through the cracks.  He came to return the stolen voice, which he had kept to himself all these years.  The skeleton woman held out her hands, fingers cupped, and received the voice that had been stolen from her.  She threw the curling sound into the air, tilted back her skull and swallowed in the song.
From that moment the bones began to sing and as they sang they danced to the music that they whispered into the quiet of the fisherman's hut.  The bones sang of the making of flesh;  they sang of sinew and muscle; they sang of nerve and vessel and the blood that coursed hot through a living body.  The skeleton danced and as she danced her hands wove the shape of womb and belly; shaped the heart and sketched out the skin to cover it all.  The song and the dance knitted together  the body that had been lost, until all that the sea had stolen was returned.  Now a fully fleshed woman stood in the centre of the fisherman's hut.  The song was silent and the figure was unmoving, her face tilted upward.   Still the North West Wind stole around inside the hut.  Finally he swirled up around the figure of the woman until he reached her lips; he kissed the cold mouth and in doing so passed back the living breath he had taken from her all those years ago.
With a gurgling, gasping intake the woman sobbed in air for the first time in a century.  At this sound the fisherman started and woke.  He could not credit the sight before his eyes for there (in the centre of his wooden floor) was the crumpled heap.  Not of the bones he was dreading but of warm flesh and blood.  Without questioning the changes he took his coat and laid it gently over the weeping woman before him.  Knowing it was not a time for words, he went and fetched what water and bread he had and put it onto the rough wooden table.  Gently lifting the woman by the arm, he led her to the chair and gestured towards the food.  Then he quietly backed out of the hut, understanding that he was an intruder in a moment of rebirth.

What of the aftermath?  The fisherman  continued to take out the boat every day, realising that his strange visitor would need to learn her life again and that the best way to do that was in solitude.  He brought her wild flowers, to brighten the hut; he brought her cloth to sew into clothes and food to strengthen her body.  He told her of the brightening skies, silver seas and the journeys of the seabirds.  To him she returned only a smile.  Until one day, returning with a rich catch, he burst into the hut only to find it empty.  Sadly he searched the room for signs of her, hints that she had not left only slipped out for a while.  But there was nothing of her left but a scent in the air.  For she had given her heart and lost her voice and breath once and would not do so again. 


  1. And now begins the rewrite.

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you Penny. I found writing lots of fun, it needs tidying up a bit, but now fancy having a go at another.

  3. Gorgeous. I've loved reading this.

    1. Thank you so much, I really enjoyed writing it, so much so that I am already thinking of having another go.