Bones

The stadium was swarming with throngs of people. We walked against them, three of us licking our ice cream cones and following our father back to our seats to watch the rest of the game. Moose Tracks melted and dribbled down the waffle cone, spilling onto my hand. Before our aisle, I stopped.

“You know, isn’t it strange to think that underneath our skins, we’re all just skeletons?”

Suddenly, the swarms became clacking bones before me, and my brother saw my horror, so he put his hand to my shoulder, pressing lightly on my back, motioning for us to continue.

“That’s weird—really weird. We’re not just skeletons. Let’s go.”

Every now and then, he reminds me of this epiphanic moment I had at the baseball diamond when we see each other on holidays. I had argued with him about it. Sure, I assured him, I believe we have souls, but it would be interesting if we could take our flesh off and to view people as calcified erector sets: no fat, no skin color, no blood type.

Still, he thought I was being a bit strange, so we finished out the inning laughing and eating our ice creams.  Maybe it was a bit ridiculous, I thought.

I thought that until just yesterday. I was standing in the checkout line with aluminum foil and a four pack of two-ply fluffy off-brand toilet paper.  The thin man in front of me clutched the card-swipe machine for support. He was the shell of old Texas wearing a black ten-gallon hat and his lower mandible jutting out beyond the extent of his nose.

Before I could wonder if this was due to an excess of bones or skin and fat that does this, his tight-shriveled skin disappeared. He seemed to have no idea how absurd it was that he’d become a mere skeleton with a cowboy hat perched atop his naked skull and a piece of straw hanging from the his few remaining molars, clenched in a grim grin.

To avoid returning a smile, I turned around to find a small woman carrying a dozen eggs and tortillas, clasped to her chest. She told me that they were “a good staple” as her hair began to fall off. When she looked at my meager purchase, she told me that I might have forgotten something in polite, heavily-accented English.  Suddenly she was bald. Kicking her fallen hair from my feet, I checked out, and left the store before her skin shed too.

ίSeñorita! The woman cried, following me from the store into the parking lot. ίTus bolsas!

I’d forgotten my bags, and she returned them to me, passing them from her little bony hand to mine, hanging the handle of the bags on my metacarpals—her bones on my bones.

She clasped my hand, laughed and left. I got into my chalky white car, brushed the dust from the windows, and started the engine.

I took it back, thinking “Maybe it’s better when we keep our skin.”

I found this short from a couple years ago. Don’t think I was reading too much Bradbury.