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Root and Bone

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He waits for death to come.

Though he is old and decrepit, he has not forgotten: how could he fail to remember golden Cynthia? She had come to him in on the wings of a dream the night after her funerary rites were concluded. He cannot forget her promise.

It has been many years since then. He has had many women, but none have had him. A long time past, he had planted at Cynthia's roadside grave an apple tree. As a sapling it had stood in the shade of her column and struggled as such to grow. But as he had aged, so had it, and growing sufficiently past shadow and into light it eventually blossomed.

It had fruited, too.

Now he hobbles to her grave, knowing that his own shall soon be made in turn. His cold bones ache inside of his aged body. He has not known intimate touch or the warmth of close embrace for many a year.

Under and by the light of a wide harvest moon, he plucks from the boughs of the tree apple after apple and lays them where Cynthia rests. He stacks them and they tumble. Nevertheless, he strains his shaking arms and arches his bent back to pluck them. When he is done, the crossroad that her grave marks is covered.

He puts down his cloak in this sea of fruit, then lays himself down atop it. He has been remiss, in recent years, in clearing back the ivy from her mound: may she forgive him, though he thinks she will not. No matter! He has had enough of kind women. If he has earned her rage, at least it will burn like fire: at least he will not have been forgotten.

The moon sinks slowly in the sky. He will die here tonight, shivering until his femurs clatter and his ulnas rattle, until his heart stutters and his brain seizes and he is all gone, sunk down to travel on the river back to her. The ivy will bind his bones to hers. Her hips will join with his, and she will ride him and he will be ridden until – scraping and grinding – they are rendered to dust.