written by Weaver Melching. Weaver Melching (they/them) is a writer and student from Los Angeles, California. They primarily write speculative fiction with a humorous edge, and though they would deny any accusations of being a poet, they do routinely write poetry. They have previously had work published in Gluepot magazine and by Invader Comics. When they are not writing, they can often be found in the kitchen pretending they are much better at cooking than they are.

Today is a grim day.  The birds have stopped singing, and the young blossoms have left their trees. I like to spend days like this in my bedroom. I used to have a window, but I covered it up and put glowing stars on the ceiling. They don’t give off much light, and they grow dimmer every day, but it’s better than looking outside.

There is one task in my room. An old pile of garbage I haven’t sorted through that tumbles off the side of my bookcase. Mostly decaying books and old toys. I fidget with anything electronic to check if it works. Nothing does. The books don’t seem to be readable either, but as I move one and it turns to dust, I find an old shoebox nestled in the pile, dented and a little stained, but oddly well preserved. Inside is mostly cobwebs and a bit of mould, but in the corner is a small skeleton with a few scraps of peeling skin left that I wouldn’t recognise if I didn’t remember burying Connor.

I found him in the back garden when I was very small.  And by found him, I mean he scrumbled out of the grass and bit my toe. I nearly screamed, thinking he was a snake, but when I noticed his four little legs, my fear turned into curiosity. The bite didn’t even hurt, so I pulled him off of my toe and cupped him in my hands. We stared at each other, taking in our features. His eyes looked like honey and oranges, his scales indistinguishable from wet stones. I pet his head and he flinched, but then leaned into it, letting me feel the pleasant slipperiness of his scales. He opened his mouth. I smiled.

I don’t know when I named him Connor. I just remember touring him around the garden, showing him our plants and flowers, telling him what was bad and letting him taste anything safe. He didn’t like mint, but he did like the basil, which was next to the Holly Bushes, so I took extra pains to make sure he knew that bad things would happen if he ate them. He nodded along, so we kept walking around the garden and munching on basil until I heard Papa opening the gate.

Papa didn’t like snakes. They were bottom feeding vermin on his crop, and even though Connor wasn’t a snake, I knew he wouldn’t like him, so I tucked Connor into the basil bush and sat down to make believe like I was playing alone.

Papa quietly walked over to the bins and spat out his cigarette as he tossed a black bag he had brought with him in. I kept pulling grass. He looked over at me and said his words – hihowareyouimgood – without giving me time to answer. I made sure he kept looking at me and away from the basil, but he wasn’t looking at either. Glancing back, though, I couldn’t see Connor, which was good. Papa went inside without a word.

I waited until I heard him hit the couch, and I ran back to the vegetables. I couldn’t see Connor immediately, so I dug into the basil, thinking he’d hidden himself well. Really, I couldn’t find him, not even with those bright eyes of his, he was nowhere to be found.

Then I saw him lying in the Holly Bushes.

I got the box from the trash. I said some words as I put him in it, and I tried to dig a grave, but Papa caught me with the shovel and got mad. So, I buried the box under a pile of books and toys. And holding the box now, I decide to let it rest again.

Image: Morning Light by Katelyn Markham-O’Halloran. Katelyn is a cinematographer and artist from Dublin. Having recently graduated with a major in cinematography from the National Film School, her visual language attempts to explore narrative truths by leaning into a voyeuristic style of shooting. With the viewer in mind she is inherently aware that the lens can capture the most intimate and absurd.

CategoriesIssue VIII