The bones fell from the ceiling as though from the sky. A tibia. A fibula. The notches of a spine. Scattering about her feet like spillikins just waiting for the game to begin. Dust and grit and flakes of ancient paint circled above her, glinting in the air as though she was standing in a universe, somewhere amongst the darkness and the never-ending stars.

Then the dust began to settle; a thin caul of grey to add to all the rest. It settled on her arms, clinging to her skin. It settled on her clothes, caught in the weave. It settled on her hair, turning it the colour of an old woman’s. It settled on the tips of her shoes.

The bones were small things, not much longer than the span of her hand, a scattering of something old, something long-since dead and buried, risen to the surface now. She stared at the little nubs, the hollow flutes, at the patch of floor turned into a graveyard about her feet. Then she crouched, reached her hand to touch, knew at once that these were the remains of a child.

 

© Mary Paulson-Ellis