THE BLUE BOY
The sun had turned itself inside out. So it was cold as she stood in the middle of the backyard on a dry patch and stared into the hole.
Yesterday, she had stood in the same spot to clean up the dog’s shit. To survey the grass’ growth while picking at dandelion heads. Had the hole been there then? She could not remember.
It had not been there last month when Sandy was here and they had sat in the heavy wrought-iron chairs and drank wine when the sun had been at its hottest. There had been nothing to suggest a hole was boring itself in the trellis that ran the perimeter of the deck. Sandy had noticed the fraying cushions and lack of forks and misguided way her sister loaded the dishwasher. But not such a hole.
The kind of hole to crawl through. Just big enough for a raccoon and her family. She stood there and imagined the physical push, the body propelling itself forward into darkness, to burrow, to hide, to sleep. An animal. It had to be an animal.
Still, it was bothersome. She could not have that. The pry bar was in her hand. She had no idea how she had found it. Len had always taken care of this sort of thing.
She walked to the hole and got down on her knees. The grass was wet and soaked through her pants. With the pry bar, she started hacking at the hole’s edges, its splinters, its already open door. The wood snapped fast and she realized she could simply rip off the trellis as one would an unravelling seam. She pulled and cracked and punched out the remaining pieces of trellis until there was no longer a hole but a wide gap. A gap that would have to be covered, filled in.
Pieces of wood littered the grass. She raked them away with her fingers. How easy it would be to roll in now. To lie down and roll into the quiet space under the deck. The dark space. Where it smelled like manure and heat. So she lay down and turned her head to the dark space and squinted hard and saw what looked like one side of a rubber ball. She reached for it, but it did not roll like a ball should. It was stuck in place. Her fingers groped and grazed a thread, a lace, the hard toe of a tennis shoe. She thought of Cat always losing things like shoes. Always screaming at her. Where are my shoes? Where did you put them? There had been so much screaming between them then. It was quiet now. Len was gone. Cat lived in the city and never came here anymore. It was only her and this gap. This shoe.
She pulled at it but it did not move. After dragging her body closer to the gap, she reached in farther, reached beyond the shoe and another hard thing. The shoe was attached to a hard thing. A leg. Someone’s leg. Stupidly, she thought, A mannequin leg? An image of Cat came into her mind, of teased hair and heavy makeup and that robotic way of talking. How easy it was to mistake her for such a doll.
She was holding onto the leg when something wrapped itself around her wrist. A pulse vibrated in her forehead. She should have screamed. Instead, she dug one foot into the wet ground and grabbed hold of the deck’s frame above her with her other hand and braced herself for the pull. Her breath became short and intense. Her eyes were shut. A tug of war ensued, but she could not let it rest. No, this would not do. So, she gasped and strained every muscle and finally lugged the leg and the hard thing to which it was attached out from under the old deck.
It was a body. A boy’s body, blue and strangely perfect. He had not decomposed; his hair was blue but intact; his T-shirt and jeans were also blue, but pressed as if recently laundered. She lay on the grass next to this blue boy, trying to push away the heaviness in her chest. His hand was still clasped around her hand, whose fingers still clung to the ankle of his right leg.
“Hello,” a voice said. The boy’s blue head was turned and seemed to look at her.
Again, she should have screamed. But he looked so familiar, so terribly familiar that there was nothing else to do but say hello back.
“You found me,” the voice said. But his lips did not move.
His dead eyes were mesmerizing, so she held his stare. I had not meant to, she wanted to say. I thought it was just the dog’s ball. Or Cat’s old, green, Converse sneaker. The one she used to scream about so much.
“She was mean,” the voice said, like it had heard her. “She never listened.”
You’re right, she wanted to say. But how did you know? And as she thought this, she relaxed into the grass and into his grip.
“You don’t remember,” the voice sighed, its sadness rising in the air before falling to the ground and slipping into the earth.
She had looked away for only a moment, to the sun, to the top of the maple tree, to the neighbour’s upstairs window. She had tried to remember. And when she turned her gaze back, his dead eyes were shut, and his fingers slackened.
Still, she held on. She shook his leg, but the jeans disintegrated with her touch. Terrified, she got up on her knees and thrust herself over him, grabbing his shoulders, but the collarbone snapped like a wishbone. She watched the skin on his face melt and his teeth pop out and get gobbled up by the grass. She reached for the back of his head, but his hair wafted away like pollen, and when she pulled at his T-shirt, it came apart like dust.
And then the animals came. The raccoons swarmed and grabbed with their claws and salivating jaws. After that, it was a frenzy of pulling at pieces of the boy and scattering his bits about the backyard. The rabbits and squirrels and crows disappeared with the pieces the raccoons discarded.
Then she was left with no part of him. And suddenly, she remembered. Her beautiful blue boy. Her son. All the screaming. Where did you put him? Where is he? She fell back onto the wet grass and rolled into that dark space where it smelled of heat and silence.
Issue #6 CONTENTS
MAKE DO AND MAKE MEND
STORM CLOUD RAIN, GRAVEYARD DIRT
THE BLUE BOY
MURDER AND CRUELTY FREE
S Van Sickel
A PROPER FOUNDATION
Adrienne Weiss is the author of two poetry collections: Awful Gestures (Insomniac Press, 2001) and There Are No Solid Gold Dancers Anymore (Nightwood Editions, 2014). She is a part-time instructor, copy editor, and writer, living in Toronto, Canada.
Twitter handle: @AdrienneWeiss1