I think this story has two main external influences. One is the season finale of the first season of True Detective, the killer’s little twine-wrapped structures, and the other is Bjork’s Hyperballad. It’s not often that my writing is fueled by something so specific. I wrote this story in one sitting, in the morning, with my shoes on the whole time, hungry and thirsty and needing badly to pee (even though I was just a few feet away from the bathroom I did not use the whole time) and with Hyperballad playing on repeat. When I sent a (horrifically rough) draft to my writing buddy, he quickly wrote back with “!!!” and then sent a more articulate follow-up email in which he prescribed watching the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (which I did).
I spread my arms wide and lift my toes off the bed, my entire body supported by just my knees and my face. I splay out each finger and maybe they’re feathers and these arms are my wings and I want to take flight but then he slows down and fucks deeper and my fingers snap into fists. I twist the sheets, and they’re bones, they’re skulls, they’re tiny animals and I crush and crush and crush.
It’s possibly one of the more overtly sad pieces I’ve written, and to be honest I’m not sure how I feel about that yet. It was super fun to research, and I have to thank the San Diego Natural History Museum (yet again) (as always) for serving up a lot of actual bone and decomposition knowledge and inspiration. If you are local, check out their rad af Skulls exhibit on the third floor. I want your skull.
I had a fairly hard time placing this piece, probably equally from me being a bit picky about where it’d end up and submitting very slowly, slower than my usual frantic wide net. Also it has a lot of perv in it, to say nothing of all the hand-crushing of animals. My agent saw it over the summer and gave me great editorial insight on the piece (including the note “flesh it out (lol)” which, among other things, made me so glad we had found each other), but then ultimately she couldn’t place it either.
Once (and I think I tell this story all the time) a lovely and delightful editor told me that one of my older titles was “kitschy and portentous,” which, unbeknownst to him, became a bit of a mantra. Of all the kitschy and portentous titling I’ve done, I’m pretty proud of that (There Are Bones) part. Parentheses? Check.
This title actually was borne from emailing my writing partner the aforementioned rough draft, in an email with the subject line “(there are bones in this story)” so at the very least be thankful that I didn’t end up titling the piece “(There Are Bones In This Story)” AMIRITE? It’s the little things you should thank me for.
A special thank you to the darling Lauren Becker, editor of Corium magazine, for giving this weird story a place to finally call home.
(horse photograph from the cover of Issue 22, by Tammy Ruggles)