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

Scar by Chris Deal

May 9, 2011 Comments Off on Scar by Chris Deal

She hadn’t smiled since we returned home from the hospital. She was beautiful, and I told her that every moment I could, though without her smile the world we found ourselves in was colder. She imitated a grin and buried her face in the pillow, telling me to save the compliments. ‘They’re stronger when used sparingly.’ I kissed her neck and went to the kitchen for her tea. When I came back, a single cup of bone china in the center of the tray and red as the horizon at dusk, she was sitting up, her hand resting on her pale belly, the thin scar still fresh, and I pretended not to notice. I sat beside her and we listened to the wind moving through the limbs outside our window, we watched the sun move across the wall until it was awash with gold. She fingered the beads of her necklace and traced the track down from her breasts, the tea untouched and cold.

I asked if she was strong enough for a walk and she nodded. ‘Where are we going,’ she asked, and I told her down to my studio, that I wanted to take her photograph. She bit the rose petal pink of her lip and nodded. A Kashmiri wrapped around her shoulders, I helped her down the stairs, her arms around me with each circumspect step. She stood in the middle of the gallery, warm enough that she could stand in only her nightdress. I installed the plate in the camera and when I turned to her again she had found the doll for the children, to abate tears, elicit a smile. Cradled like a babe ready to feed, her eyes were far away and her smile, shy as it was, bloomed alive. She hummed softly and I took the photograph, capturing her forever.

© 2011 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

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