Corpse Light By Chris Deal

September 10, 2012 Comments Off on Corpse Light By Chris Deal

Lawrence followed the water; down valleys and through brush for three days. He went deeper into the wood than he had ever gone before, sleeping under trees that had never known the presence of man. Animals eyed him as a curiosity, owls called to him, wolves sniffed at his prone form, at the pack he carried. His feet bled and his stomach ached, but he kept on, going further still. The old timers told him what he needed to do, and their words ran through his head all the while. This was his burden, and he carried it with him.

Under the Hunter’s moon of the third night, he arrived at his destination. The forest had thinned, and the beasts were silent. The clearing looked to be the same as any other, but buried under the leaves he found stones. Lawrence fell, clawing at the dirt until he hit root. He hacked and cleared the hole, making it deep enough. When he was pleased with his work, he removed the child from his pack. He held the boy’s small head to his lips and wept before placing the tiny frame into the ground. His name was Saul. Lawrence prayed, just as the old-timers told him to, that the child would find a place on the other side, that he and the boy’s mother would be happy and warm. He marked the grave with a river stone and left with the moon in hiding.

As the sun was born, the landscape was foreign, but he continued to the west. Nothing was as it should be. The creek was lost to him, the deer’s path. The fourth day came, and he was no closer to home. Lawrence sat below a tree from dawn until the world disappeared under the night’s blanket. He had lost his wife and his boy and now, himself.

The wolves had a growing hunger, and their calls came closer throughout the night. Lawrence blinked, and through the trees, there came a glow. A man stepped between the trees, his skin aflame. The two men watched each other, and without a word, the engulfed soul turned and Lawrence followed his light, over hill and through brush, until he came to the creek. The night collapsed back in on itself, and the man was gone. Lawrence swore that the man bore his own face, the one his boy, buried beneath root and stone, would have grown into.

© 2012 Chris Deal

Chris Deal writes from North Carolina. His debut collection, Cienfuegos, was published by Brown Paper Publishing in early 2010. He can be found at www.Chris-Deal.com.

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