The bones they dig up are not my bones. These are small and birdlike with thin, rolling flares at the edges. A digger picks one up and gives it a thoughtful little lick with the pale, dry tip of his tongue. He nods, slowly. My herb garden has grown wild and the sunrise smells of thyme. One digger tears a handful of leaves from the pot of basil and rubs them on the back of his neck; another hoists himself up the lemon tree and fills his pockets with fruit. The third one piles the bones on a white sheet. The bones are mossy and grey and old, old.

A man in uniform arrives, pausing by the vegetable patch. Everything I’d planted lies in disarray, gently rotting. This is not my labor of love. But he doesn’t notice: he cuts straight through it, unchecked. And then I feel it, as his shoes sink into the black mud, crushing the unripe greens—a strange thrill sweeps through me and I want to rip the skin off the world. A dog somewhere goes wild. Then he’s crossed the patch and my shudder ebbs away.

The diggers stand in a row, leaning on spades, and watch as the man takes out a pen. He sticks it in the eye socket of the skull, rolling it over.

“Not her,” he says, “but still pretty.”

Clio Velentza

Clio Velentza

Clio Velentza lives in Athens, Greece. She has been a winner of Queen’s Ferry Press’ Best Small Fictions 2016, a writer-in-residence at Dickinson House, Belgium (2015), and was anthologized in Rethinking the Plot (Kingston University Press, 2016) and in 21 New Voices (Eleftheroudakis Publications, 2011). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous literary magazines, such as L'Éphémère Review, Maudlin House, Wigleaf, Gravel Magazine, Literary Orphans, Bitterzoet, The Letters Page, The Vignette Review, Whiskey Paper, and Atticus Review.
Clio Velentza

Latest posts by Clio Velentza (see all)

  • Deep - March 1, 2017