Ossuary by R.N. Drum


The inspiring song for the first round of If Music Be The Food flash fiction is by The Naked & Famous. The song is called “Rotten”. Have a listen before you read the next entry, written by R.N. Drum!

Ossuary

Arthur Johnston hated funerals almost as much as he hated his mother.

He feigned sorrow as her casket was lowered into the earth. He had nearly interrupted the service twice to kick the winch lever to send the bitch to her hole and be done with the whole affair. Snow had been falling heavy since before dawn. Fortunately, January burials in northern Michigan didn’t last long.

The service ended and Pastor Edding pocketed his bible. He shook Arthur’s hand and was careful, as always, to avoid eye contact. He remembered this young man and knew all too well the lamentable choices of his youth. Arthur’s attention, though, never wavered. His eyes were fixed upon Mother’s grave as the satin-lined box was lowered out of sight. She lay inside, wrapped in a second-hand, ill-fitting green dress. Cold and obscene.

Arthur wondered how long it took the diggers to get a hole that deep in this cold weather, and why dead ever need a pillow.

He kept his eyes down and watched the feet of her friends as they shuffled to the snow-coated edges of the green blankets that lined the grave. Arthur knew they weren’t looking at him. It was rare that anyone did. The boots disappeared from sight as the mourners retreated to the warmth of their cars.

Arthur remained. It was just the two of them again.

The snow, wet and heavy on the tent that had sheltered the mourners, came faster. Curious, he thought, that when someone is delivered to their final rest that the living were so concerned with convenience and comfort. He kept a steady eye on the edges of the grave, not wanting to admit to himself why.

Arthur waited.

He stood for what felt like hours. Sound collapsed around him. He felt as if he could hear the earth sigh itself to sleep under its winter bedclothes. The silence was punctuated by the thrum of his heart, the surge of his pulse as it droned in his ears.

Arthur raised his eyes and turned away from the grave, looking to the cemetery that lay outside the refuge of the tent. He thought he knew where the driveway and his car were supposed to be, but he couldn’t see them. He only saw the heaving waves of white as they rolled across the sea of headstones, which were becoming more difficult to make out with every passing minute.

The snow was blowing harder now and had begun to coil itself around Arthur, gently threatening to cover him in crystalline sanctuary just as it had the cold stones that stood vigil around his mother’s grave. It reminded him of how the fire had wrapped the pillars of the house after breaking through the front door. Arthur brought his hands, long buried deep in the pockets of his coat, up to wipe away the bitter fingers of ice that laced the sides of his face. His pulse had become a distant freight train in his ears. He turned back around.

Gone was the tent.

Gone were the chairs.

Gone was the green carpet.

Curious, but it was no surprise, he thought.

What remained, however, was the black mouth of the freshly excavated grave. It regarded Arthur, inviting him to come closer. It enticed him with warmth, just as false as his grief. He thought for a moment that he might step closer to the pale of the void, but he knew better than that. His heart paused for a moment, swelling as it filled and rolled in its sanguine vault. And in that moment, there was something soft, something trying to make itself known.

Arthur waited.

Read more from R.N. Drum on rndrum.net.