This flash fiction from my collection-in-progress “Soon I Will Be Dead,” written after a (solitary) visit to the catacombs in Paris, just won an Honourable Mention in Geist’s postcard story contest. It’s a sick fuck, this little je ne sais quoi of the romantic, and (consequently?) I love it.
And hey, may none of us ever feel the way this bone-heap did: Pour moi, mort est un gain.
Will You Ossuary Me?
Jane Eaton Hamilton
She wanted to kiss me in bones. Death, much? Spiraling down 19 meters. She pulled the ends of my scarf and I moved closer because hers were Parisian lips, the top lip thin, the bottom lip full, and I felt her deeply inside where my nerves snapped and I was decomposable. There were tibias all around us in the damp light, and scapulas from the plague, phalanges and fibulas and metatarsals. Infant bones. People with polio. People dead of childbirth or famine. War. Cries and tears and screams. The bones of six million Parisians dug up from cemeteries to make room, shovels of bones, wagon-loads of bones pulled by sway-backed nags for a full two years—carted down into these old mine tunnels, then arranged. We stood in puddles. The air was heavy with the motes of people’s lives—more broken dreams, I guessed, than dreams come true. It was quiet, but the past echoed. Ghost-din. Someone had written, Pour moi, mort est un gain. Pour moi, pour moi, pour moi, she whispered and her voice rumbled. Exhumations and exhalations all around us, the breath of death, bone-stacks, bone-crosses, bone-chips in heaps, my mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother, maybe, resting in pieces. My lips were swollen and sore, cut and scabbed over from all that had already happened. Skulls placed in the shape of a heart, eye sockets staring, and behind those eye sockets more eye sockets. Shadows moved across us; her nipples hardened. She pressed me up against a white cross against a black tombstone. I will leave you, she said as she bit my throat, but not yet.