A Ceremony of Innocence By Stephen V. Ramey

November 3, 2014 Comments Off on A Ceremony of Innocence By Stephen V. Ramey

A yard covered in the purist white, a snowman of perfect proportion, a tree, a fence, the field beyond glazed with snow, and I breathe. The air is not cold in my lungs, but warm and moist. My gaze lifts to the sun, light too fluid for the tree’s arthritic fingers to hold.

These farms are not like Nebraska. Borders bend with the landmarks; roads turn through one curve after another, a widening gyre. Nothing stays still, nothing makes sense.

I gaze at Jenny. She likes pancakes with whipped butter and maple syrup. She likes to sleep in, tucked down into the blankets. I wait as long as I can, but there are cows to milk, hay to pitch, water troughs to fill.

“Come on, lazy bones.”

An eye peeks out. A toe emerges. I imagine it pressed to my lips; foot arched like a ballerina’s, the tension in her calf easing as I work my way up.

“Come back to bed,” she says. The window brightens her foot and suddenly it’s Sarah, reclining on a spread of hay. The barn smells of the manure pile just outside.

She raises her bare foot. All manner of filth clings to that sole. I think of the chickens in their coops, the cows in their stalls, the horse’s tail swatting. She watches expectantly as I touch her to my lips, take her onto my tongue. Her mocking laughter fills my head.

This is where it comes apart. Jenny is not in bed, not in the house, the shed, or anywhere I will let myself see. I raise my hands, red against the sun.

The snowman stares accusingly.

“The world will melt you,” I yell. Ice hangs in the air.

© Stephen V. Ramey

Stephen V. Ramey lives in beautiful New Castle, Pennsylvania. His work has appeared in various places, most recently Gone Lawn, Cactus Heart, and Pure Slush. His first collection of (very) short fiction, Glass Animals, is available from Pure Slush Books. http://www.stephenvramey.com

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