She’s little more than flesh, now. Here, in the woods, she’s disappearing. Her bones disintegrate, and her muscles, and I lie in the dirt on her pale skin. Gravel grates her thighs, her calves, little pinpricks, her flesh torn like paper. I rub my thumb along her eyebrow and auburn flecks sprinkle her face. I snatch her teeth before I lose them, too, but they crush into milk-white dust. I wipe my hands on my jeans and sit next to her deflated body, dig in my heels. She’s returned to mineral and molecule. Her clothes are gone, but those were lost hours ago, somewhere in the woods behind us. Without a skull, her eyeballs loll from optic nerves.
Months ago, in my bed, I knelt over her, pinned her arms above her head. She whispered, Do whatever little thing you want. Something caught my eye. She begged, Kiss me, and I gripped her wrists like I was afraid she’d run, like I knew what was coming.
Her wrists are limp in my hand. I feel for the tumor, but it’s gone. Excised. Evaporated. I should return to the campsite. I should bury what’s left. Her fingernails vanish. Her hair follows. I never thought she’d look beautiful bald but I see now I was wrong. Her face lies flat and expressionless in the pathway, but I can picture her high cheeks, her left dimple with that sly smile, her smooth scalp arching back and how it all would’ve distracted me from her pain.
I could’ve saved her, I think foolishly. There was nothing to be done. Nothing we could do. I kiss her cracked lips and sit back to watch her slip away.