Between Living and Dying


SHE HAD NEVER SEEN ANYTHING REALLY DEAD.
At least not as dead as this.
Zero curled up against the wall of the shack and held her breath. She could hear the boys inside still. She knew her brother was in there. Zero rubbed her eyes and peeked back through the crack in the shed wall. She knew if he caught her out here he would kill her.
“Where’d ya find it?” one of the boys asked. Zero could only see a portion of the inside. She could see her brother’s face and then her neighbor Tommy. He scowled across at the other boys, but seemed to be looking right at her, or through her.

g lay under a blanket. “Back in the woods. I told ya.”
“What are we gonna do?”
“Nothing,” her brother said. “It’s not our fault.”
“Yeah but it's dead.”
“So?”
“So…it’s here.”
“Well you are the one who brought it here. You should’ve left it in the woods.”
Someone sniffled. There was a nervous shuffle of feet. Zero’s leg was starting to cramp from crouching. She wanted desperately to move it. She also felt a tickle in her nose and feared she would sneeze. She wondered how fast she could run, if she could outrun those four boys. Possibly. But probably not her brother. And if he caught her out here spying that would be the end.
Tommy reached over and lifted the edge of the blanket. He cocked his head to the side. Zero couldn’t see what was under there, only Tommy’s expression of quiet wonder and disgust. She watched his eyes blink quickly as if he could ingest the image for so long before having to stop.
“Gross,” someone said.
“I think it's Anna’s.”
“No it ain’t.”
“How do you know?”
“Cause I know. Just shut up.”
The boys rearranged the milk crates that served as chairs. Her brother spoke. “We gotta do something with it. We can’t leave it here.”
“It should be buried.”
“Maybe we should call the cops.”
“That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard.”
“Maybe it was a bear.”
“Nah, there wouldn’t be anything left.”
“Alright listen up,” her brother said, quieting the boys down. “We gotta bury it. It’s the only right thing to do.” There was silence and through the crack Zero watched Tommy nod his head slowly. He looked like he was about to cry.
“We should tell someone,” Tommy said in a whisper.
“No way,” Zero’s brother barked. “We can’t. We don’t know what happened. It coulda been one of us.”
Everyone was stone silent.
“Right,” Tommy said eventually. “Let’s get shovels.”
There was a rustle of activity as the boys stood up, the scraping of crate against wood, the click of the latch on the door. Zero pressed her back against the shack. If they decided to cut through the woods, she was caught. If they took the path away from the courts to the main road they wouldn’t see her. She heard their sneakers on gravel, a cough, her brother spoke but she couldn’t understand what he said, and then their voices faded. They headed toward the road.
Between Living and Dying continues...
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About Ally Malinenko


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Ally Malinenko is the author of the poetry collections The Wanting Bone and How To Be An American (Six Gallery Press) as well as the novel This Is Sarah (Bookfish Books). Better Luck Next Year, a poetry collection is due out in Summer of 2016 through Low Ghost Press. She tweets @allymalinenko mostly about Doctor...read more Who
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