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"Dark-eyed, a small boy sat among the stones, tracing his finger in the carvings."
Dark-eyed, a small boy sat among the stones, tracing his finger in the carvings. He picked the wilted poppies and squeezed their white juice into the old grooves, spreading it out to lend some softness to the scene. Most of them depicted bulls and wine soaked groves. Idiot gods, soberly exploiting their creation or nauseous drunks disgusted by the work of their hands roamed the stones, cavorting with pregnant women that steal the gods' blood and spread it on their stomachs. He studied them thoroughly, memorizing the shapes and images, drawing them unconsciously into himself. In the back ground were the children’s hollow screams and laughter as they came running.
Children played in the ruins of the old pavilion. Slowly, they had experimented with the crumbling tile; small pieces of iridescent metal that gleamed against the pale dirt. It was all turned over, white and beautiful under their hands. The scattering had a sense of design about it, strange lines connecting here and there into forms. They examined it silently, dirtying it with an odd reverence. The tile was stained almost uniformly, and faded by sun and handling. Having recreated the place, they moved on, quickly worn through with the old stone, and ran off to forget about it, the wet grass thickly clinging to their thighs in dark streaks. They smelled of sweat and sap. He hated them. Their shadows would sometimes break across the lines of the pavilion, forcing it into something incomplete and transitory; a stark and empty ruin hulking over the surrounding wilderness. Undisturbed the place was separate, beautifully isolated and free.
The boy stayed there rubbing his hands over the broken tiles. They were beautiful. The tough edges cut the thin skin that spread between his fingers, the blood stained the tile red lending it an alien feel, something to set it apart from the surrounding landscape. He stared at the streaks of drying blood, it ridged around the cracks in the metal and made it alive, set into greater definition with the raw wetness.
He wondered what the colors were here before they faded.
The wind rushed over the carvings carefully, soundlessly. The boy's eyes dried from staring. Some days it looked like the figures moved, their throats pulsating as they swallowed stone intoxicants or leg muscles twitching as they stepped forward just a bit, prompted by some vibration in the wind. It was dreaming in a world made possible only by dreaming beyond distraction.
He would sit still for days, falling asleep as he watched the carvings. He wanted to go deaf so nothing could tear him away from this.
Sometimes he would laugh. It was a rough strange unbidden sound that tore his lips open and forced his chest out in convulsions. His throat ached violently afterwards and the figures would seem a little nearer, a little more vivid even as they as blurred during the laughter, when his eyes would shut and water uncontrollably; and they would sting with each convulsion of his chest.
Once at night, the boy slept among the ruins, and watched the moon call up a strange mist from the tiles. He imagined it was a band of white dancers, marking the place open for oblivion. He got up and stripped and danced with them, free and whole. It drew him. He spun and leaped until he fell, stumbling over a large chipped stone and breaking his chin open. The carving became a soft rusted color and gleamed more beautifully than the rest as he got up and ran off again.
He developed a secret sort of worship there, It was leading him, it’s energies made him aware so he could become himself. It was necessary, intrinsic even.
Soon after, he found that a girl was following him. She would come and sit across him in the pavilion, on top of the stone tracked with his blood, and watch him. She was silent. Her hair was the pale color of the carvings and her skin was tanned and dark. It felt rough when he touched it, once when she was asleep, her eyelids twitching as if she was dreaming.
She would do this more and more frequently as she came; going still and loose, her limbs sprawled over the expanse of dirt and cracked tile.
Once he grabbed her by the arm and pinned her down. Small stones dug into his knees and he winced as he pulled her skirt up. Her skin was hot, burning even. Her lips were crusted with spit and mucus, her eyes twitching with a strange and incomprehensible fever. He pulled her legs open and laid on top of her, heavily. Her hips trembled, delicately. He hesitated, than thrust until she bled and stained the mud underneath her skin.
After that she stayed on the pavilion, just sitting with her eyes going mad in short seizures, off into all directions. Her stomach grew thick and full over her legs splayed across the monument. She'd speak to him quietly with a strange clarity, quietly mumbling about colors and god and what she thought watching him as he studied the carvings. She said he had absorbed them so that he looked like the stone gods, but sobered.
He bashed her head in with a stone. It was carved with the picture of a runner. Her body fell stiffly, shaking. He left it. He liked the contrast.
Her skin rotted quickly, receding first into a gray sheen, tight around her eyes, and finally falling away. Bugs swarmed, black and buzzing, to the body. It didn’t faze him. Rather he studied the flies and their habits, watching as they devoured her lips and nipples first, eating away at the soft pink tissue in only a day.
Than they swelled and went more quickly, until she remained a nameless mass of hulking inverted bones and matted hair ingrained in the clean white stone.
He never touched the skeleton, only looked at it. Then finally it was gone, all at once.
Some of the stones were moved around, the debris cleared a bit, but roughly. The bloody rust like stones were had been taken.
He walked carefully, slowly, watching the grass around him for people. He didn’t mind much. It was quiet.
One morning the pavilion was covered in shadows and the white dancers burned at his eyes, trying to shield them so he couldn't look. Children stood stiffly in a circle around him, holding clean pale stones. The dancers were mad, spiraling over the ruins and through the children. He watched them and sat down.
The children moved in closer and threw the stones at him, beating his body without contact. The dancers raged, leaping over the stones, reveling. Faster and faster. Harder and harder, and heavier. It closed in, silent. Weight releasing his limbs. A relapse into a purer contemplation.
It was morning and the sun shone beautifully on the charred stones. Smoke hazed over the grass and made it brittle and crack, scratching the bare feet of the children playing. They were bruised some of them. And one separated and left, walking down away from the field and the ruins, obscene with smoke markings.