CW: Implied trauma
The sexton alights. The bell begins ringing, ringing, ringing in her head. Devil black, and orange—wings still outstretched the undertaker beetle crawls up the shoe of the lost girl. It’s found her in a city park where cherry trees are in blossom and food shacks draw the hungry, latitudes away from where she’d begun, decades away from where she’d learnt the names of all the birds and butterflies, where she’d learnt not to trust pretty. The ache for the lost piece of herself, hits her like ice-cream brain-freeze. The part she’d severed and left behind, not a limb or an organ—she imagines it now through the spiral of years, as a gristle of viscera, buried, deep in the dark loam. She falters, the breeze catches her spring clothes, the bell is ringing, ringing, ringing. The beetle, wings folded, crawls onto her white sock. She remembers the perfect house of lies, the cut, the righteousness, the judgement. Does the phantom place, long grown over and healed, the wound she thought sealed, send spores of rot out into the universe, calling, calling, calling, the undertaker beetle—is she too, rotting? Does what she left behind still contaminate the earth? Or has it been eaten clean to the bone by worms and burying beetles, and returned to the eco system? She believes, to survive, there are times when we must tear through our own flesh, gnaw through our own bones, get up and run, scattering our possessions and minds, leaving parts of ourselves behind. Blossom from the cherry trees falls like snow, light on her head. She looks up at the sun, shining through the pink and white and realises that she knows exactly where she is, she is not lost at all. She tilts her foot, turns toward an ice-cream shack, seeking a cone of raspberry ripple. The beetle spreads its wings and flies, taking the toll of the bell further and further and far away, and it is quiet once more.
F. E. Clark lives in Scotland. Sometimes, she writes, paints, takes photographs—inspired by nature in all its forms. Website: www.feclarkart.com, Twitter: @feclarkart.