What They Are Doing

I saw them do it near barbed wire. That surprised me. Soft flesh so close to such sharpness.

But then I remembered that cutting was why in the first place.

There was a stump there, too, so maybe a forest once, before the saws and bulls. A tree, or the memory of one, would be right, since something growing could happen from it one day.

The old man had told me that I should mark the time the blood runs down the leg. He had done so when he saw it, he said, and it had stuck in his head forever. And he was younger than I was.

There was no fence when he saw it. It was a house whose windows were broken and rooms empty. Way out in the woods, far from anywhere. No one who cared could have heard the sounds.

I heard the sounds when it was my time. I knew it was the pain and that not caring meant that I would be what the old man said. And I knew she wasn’t really my sister, even if we did have the eyes.

That’s what I was thinking when I took out my watch, of how blue they were when she would stare out the attic window. I was waiting for the blood.

But the sounds that were the pain stabbed my hand and I dropped the watch. This had never happened before, and it would not have mattered if they hadn’t heard the glass break on the stone at my foot.

They stopped what they were doing and looked toward the sound and they saw me.

They were careless with me. The barbs punctured my belly, and they put the broken watch inside me.

That’s when the blood flowed, but there was no one there to mark it.

Unless the old man still had his watch. I saw him just when they were binding us together, because of our eyes, and talking about the house in the woods. He was standing where I had stood, and he was staring, and his eyes were no longer blue but solid white, like our skin, except for the red.

Now we are inside the walls and I can’t see anyone marking the time and no one can hear the sounds we make when they are doing it. No one who is able to care.

Eric G. Wilson’s work has appeared in TheCollagist, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Cafe Irreal, The Georgia Review, The Fanzine, and decomP, among many other publications.  He is the author of Against Happiness and Keep It Fake, and he teaches at Wake Forest University.  His website.