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    WARNING: Stories on this site may contain mature language and situations, and may be inappropriate for readers under the age of 18.

    MEMORIAM by Jheri Potts
    August 18, 2014  Short stories   

    She sits by a lake, a massive body of water so cold that just thinking about it should have made her shiver in the morning light. But her legs are splayed out in front of her carelessly, and her arms lay unfeeling and cold on the dying grass that bristles on the sloping banks.

    The girl tries sorting through her web of tangled thoughts, but gets snared despite being the spider. She tilts her gaunt face back to stare at the sky, so clear it seems to be deliberately mocking her. So many tears have already been shed that nothing will come; only the vaguest feeling of loss permeates her chest and travels slowly to her jumbled thoughts like a storm cloud over a playground.

    The world, my world…ravaged and taken like the coins for Charon. Take it, take them, take everything. It’s alright. Her eyes are focused on everything and nothing across the water. It’s our only defense, this endurance. This…blind, nonsensical, simple, unending existence.

    We can never see the next move, so we wait.

    She stretches her feet out in front of her, worn boots tearing the brittle grass. Time is ours, but nothing else will ever be. Her failing eyes scan the banks, but nothing like her is around yet, or anyone else for that matter.

    So here I am…I will wait. They can come back whenever they please, whenever life’s road makes them nostalgic or lonely, whenever they hurt for something I can give.

    A ladybug wanders aimlessly across her leg, mistakenly seeking warmth no doubt. She lets it walk across her fingers, knowing that when it pauses it’s actually biting her. She feels nothing, brushing the bug from her hand.Her brittle bones protest as she gets to her feet.

    She tries to forget what she was thinking about as she shuffles back up the trail. But her moment of clarity has temporarily burned into her flickering thoughts.

    You will wait, you will endure. And you will do it alone until they give you the brief honor of remembering.The epiphany is like an anchor; it fastens around what’s left of her heart and holds her tighter than anything she’s ever made the mistake of trusting before.

    Hunger growls briefly through her, but she doesn’t care enough to fully acknowledge it. In recent months she never really has. Her carelessly uncoordinated steps scatter leaves and echo loudly in the cold air. The few birds left in the trees dart away, scrawny and frightened.

    She stumbles along the trail, coming to a fork. Having wandered enough by the lake’s edge, she is far from lost, but that isn’t saying much. On the surface of her bitter thoughts, she knows it will never really matter. Her shoulders are just turning to the western path when the distant whisper of human speech comes to her ears on the icy breeze.

    Fear, hope, anxiety, annoyance.

    Hunger.

    They blossom in her mind suddenly as she cocks her head to the side, trying to determine where the sound came from. She hears it again, closer. The dense brush and overhanging trees distort sound, but she takes a guess and begins walking.

    Her ragged boots crunch twigs and crush frost as the girl moves. She becomes aware of an acrid smell, smoke; foreign in the isolated reaches of the lake. Almost hopeful, she pushes forward and emerges into a small clearing.

    Tents make a small ring around a campfire that burns brightly. Men and women her age go about their tasks, gathering wood and drying their worn clothes. She is awestruck in recognition.

    I remember you, all of you.The girl is not hopeful enough to believe they have come just for her, but their simple presence almost warms the icy pallor of her skin. Her face twitches in what could be joy, and she staggers forward, savoring the moment before something heavy strikes her backside.

    Thrown to her knees, she never feels the pain. A dark haired girl circles her, armed with a dented metal baseball bat, its shine tainted by dark brown stains. From her knees, she looks up.

    I missed you.

    A man comes forward, kicking her onto her back almost gently. His dark eyes are hard and full of the things she longs to feel again.

    I missed you.

    A younger man watches from the side, a look of painful disgust marring his pale face. She tries to smile, her lips pulling away from her teeth.

    I missed you.

    The dark eyed man above her raises an axe as other people move in to watch.

    I missed all of you.

    The notched blade whistles down, biting into the girl’s skull and sinking into the frozen earth. Slowly, they move in to dispose of the zombie. A fleeting second before her mockery of life fades from her decaying body, the girl realizes she is being buried.

    Buried like one of them, not burned like an outsider.

    They remembered.

     

    6 Comments

    1. Short, concise, but beautiful and quite sad. This is an excellent short short story, Jheri. Can we have this girl’s backstory? I’d love to read it.

      Comment by Craig Y on August 18, 2014 @ 4:40 pm

    2. Brief and bittersweet;this was a nice little snapshot of a band of survivors . I wonder, was the zombie a member of their band who was bitten and left by the lake to die because no one could stand to put her down?

      It’s interesting to think about what happened before we joined the story, and what happened after…

      Comment by DaisyMaeGoGo on August 18, 2014 @ 6:32 pm

    3. Short but vivid enough that it keeps you reading. Nicely done.

      Comment by Terry on August 18, 2014 @ 9:00 pm

    4. Well done. I liked it.

      Comment by gunldesnapper on August 19, 2014 @ 9:31 am

    5. Love to hear the backstory on this one! Great short read!

      Comment by Hijinxjeep on September 10, 2014 @ 2:44 am

    6. I like your take on the zombie’s thoughts. Lear enough to be understood, muddles enough to be believable.

      Comment by JamesAbel on September 13, 2014 @ 4:01 pm

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