Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Fiction - Things are never the same

Please note: I've been ill and wasn't able to complete the Identity series. I'll return to it in the next few days.

*  *  *

When the blade hit the bone it made a curious scraping sound. The student digging stopped and called the professor over. As they uncovered more, small spades and brushes in hand, the professor began to shake, thinking, “Finally, tenure is mine! Things will never be the same.”

When the blade hit the bone she was surprised by the jolt. She was expecting the resistance of muscle and organs, not much different from any other animal, but he was so much smaller than a deer. He gripped her hand as though to hold her in place, then his eyes closed and his weight sagged against her. She smiled. Things would never be the same.

The careful arrangement of the corpses made her think that this must have been a ritual burial, of some significance to the community. She began to hum as she ordered the students this way and that, measuring, recording, capturing everything about this ancient moment in modern time.

The careful arrangement of his body in the dirt hid the wound. He didn’t look like he was sleeping (they never did) but it was close enough. He looked peaceful. She hummed as she worked, this was her favorite part of the job. She thought about how he was now forever in this moment, never to age or change, how the last memory of him would be perfect.

Once they were uncovered everyone gathered around to look. It had been a long, careful process, no one wanting to jinx the dig by hinting at how special this might be. The lack of grave goods and the odd location of the burial (who expected it here of all places?) made the tender pose even more surprising. An undergrad sighed and said, “They must have been in love.” The professor evenly replied, “We’ll never know. What matters is the stories the bones say, not the stories we tell about them,” but in her heart she hoped they had died happy.

While he was still uncovered she stretched in the evening glow, the copper light washing over the red earth. She turned to look at him one last time and caught her foot on a pile of dirt, thinking only, “This isn’t the way it’s supposed to end!” before her head struck a rock as she crumpled beside him. Later, much later, hands tucked her legs in place and left flowers for the man. No songs were sung nor tears were shed. The sun rose and set, ignoring the land below.

The exhibition was titled The Lovers. The lines were out the door. The professor hit the lecture circuit and wrote a book the changed cultural theory for that part of the world. Two of the students on the dig married. Things were never the same. 

(c)2010 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License


  1. Oh I really liked this very much.

    Very clever juxtaposition of the present and the past.

    Excellent writing!

  2. So sorry to hear you've been ill. I hope you're better soon.
    As for the story - wonderful, I love the way you weaved the different times and showed, really showed, how we see things [we've never seen] in our own light, making them as we wish them to be. Very well-written.

  3. I love this photo and the story you've given them. So many possibilites, and of course we always want to believe in love. But, what if? :-) Wonderful. And hope you're feeling better!

  4. Oh goodness, I liked this. At one point I wondered if the professor had set this up - a murder in the past to be discovered in the present, but no, it was even better than that. Excellent!

  5. I loved the intertwined narratives!

  6. Fabulous! I've been working in earnest almost the past year on how to interthread multiple perspectives in a "real time" written story. This is beautiful, stimulating of brainstorms, and poignant. Your narrator, feeling the same person yet with such different voice vicariously speaking for both parties, is delicious. Thank you, Laura.


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