Swaying

Dearest of diaries,

       I found a body in my attic early this morning, filthy and somewhat decomposed, naked among old photographs and clothing I’d have never worn again anyway. The body is sewn up in the front like a weathered gym bag, faded and smelling of sweat, mold, failure. It’s a woman and she’s beautiful. Or, she was. It wasn’t hard to see.

       There is something cathartic about dragging the body down to my bike. I’d been having problems with my self image in the last few weeks; seeing a woman I might have fallen in love with in life, surely at a distance, in this physical condition made me feel better about the long, wine-stain birthmark over my eye. Did you get in a fight? No, I just got born.

       I am driving down the interstate at 3am with the corpse of a stranger thrown over the rear seat of my motorcycle, a blanket barely covering her back, arms and legs dangling loosely to the sides, a spade tied to the back rest. I occasionally hear a faint grinding and realize I should have bound her better. A finger bounces into the ditch. She has no toenails when we arrive.

       We are in the woods now, me and Jillian. I decide to name her after a cat I used to own and love that ran away. I’m not sure why.

       I am digging a shallow grave among the leaves of the early autumn and turn to check on my guest. She is standing now, ridged, and her wounds have broken open. She is spilling out of herself, an ancient grandfather clock leaking strawberry jam, a teetering spire of sloppy fragility. I have to sit but I don’t think I’m scared. I am just staring up at her. The sky behind her is glowing with the light pollution of a city to the south, a gaunt silhouette casting her shadow lightly over me.

       We talk. She doesn’t have much to say, just the usual dead people things.
               I’m hungry.
               I’m cold.
               It’s so dark out.
       I don’t have much to say either, just the usual living people things.
               It’s nice to meet you.
               How are you feeling?
               Well, look at the time.

       She is a heap in the dirt again and I am digging with my hands now. The southern bloom is brighter than before and I am carrying Jillian to her new bed in both my arms, a child who fell asleep on the car ride home. I lay her down. I tuck her in. I cry a faithless prayer.

       It is December now and I can still smell the mud and her damp flesh under my fingernails. I have been dreaming in vivid, nameless colors ever since, blinding, colors of horrific intensity. I wake up with headaches, shut all my windows and draw the shades, but I still see her outside my house every night, swaying, sighing, alive.

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