Dance, Old Bones

“Humans are mad. I like that about them. My best friend finds that fact about our companions somewhat worrying. But no wise soul could expect any less from a dog who was named after his severe separation anxiety. I, on the other paw—”

“Cobweb, would you please stop mewing to yourself and come with me to our Mistress’ studio?”

If my dear friend, YoBoy (which, by the way, means I’m going in Spanish) had one imagination bone in his body, I would tell him that I’m narrating for you. But every one of his bones is made of dread and of need to please, so I won’t waste my spit. “I was not mewing to myself, dog.”

“Sure you weren’t,” YoBoy barked. “But we’ve no time to discuss your feline weirds right now. Our Mistress and her friends are writing and painting and singing and sculpting and sniffing… and, as always, they are doing it separately. We need to show them that if they are to rescue the others from the killing man, they must craft as one. Our human needs our help, lady cat.”

“We can’t go—” I began to say.

“We must. Everything depends on it. If we don’t, everything will stop being. We would never be able to come back. Don’t you know what that would mean, cat? Our home won’t exist! Our…”

I stopped the neurotic dog’s yapping right before he choked on his own desperation. “We can’t go before we pick up Old Bones. Our influence hasn’t been enough. We need her help, YoBoy.”

The dog was panting too hard for words, but he followed my steps to our Mistress’ bedroom.

dance-old-bonesOld Bones sat on our Mistress’ mantel surrounded by candles, flowers, stones, and old photos of long gone humans. Her perpetual grin looked… peculiar. But I couldn’t figure out why. “YoBoy, do you noticed something different about Old Bones?”

“The flowers,” YoBoy said, in a shaky voice that turned him into a puppy. “Look at the flowers.”

“I saw the flowers, and they stink to high hells,” I hissed. Fresh flowers always made me sneeze. “I don’t care about the damn…” Fresh flowers? I finished in my head. “That is not possible,” I said. “Those flowers have been dead since—”

“The flowers died on the same day your Mistress stopped dancing,” Old Bones said. “With the stillness of human feet, came the rotting of rivers, the shriveling of unripe fruit, the slowing of flesh, of blood, of hearts.”

“You can’t be talking,” YoBoy said to Old Bones. “You’ve got no lips,”

I glared at the dog, and said, “We come back from the dead every All Hallows’ Eve, and you are shocked by a talking skull?”

“I…” He began to whine. “Old Bones never talked before. I just thought—”

“No you didn’t,” I said. And pretended I wasn’t feeling as perplexed as he was. “Help me with Old Bones. We need to take her and some of the flowers to the studio. If this doesn’t give our Mistress the push she needs to get started, then nothing will.”

I held my breath and gently closed my jaws around the stems of three daisies.

YoBoy, his expression haunted, tried to grab Old Bones with a shaky paw. When that didn’t work, he bit the side of Old Bones’ left eye socket and followed me out of the room, whining.

dance-old-bonesA cat, a dog, and a talking skull walked into a tiny room and no human found that strange. They smiled at us, before returning their gazes to the cauldron bubbling in the middle of the studio.

YoBoy and I placed the flowers and Old Bones at our Mistress’ feet. She arranged them by the cauldron, next to a camera, books, a spoon, knitting needles, and a puppet that smirked creepily.

I smiled, and said to YoBoy, “Maybe they can come up with a spell that will make the others better, and get them away from the killing man.”

Old Bones spoke through nearly transparent lips. “They are working together, my girl-child and her friends. The healing has already begun.” Three daisies multiplied around Old Bones’ skull, to form a crown that encircled a brow, which wrinkled with a smile that was a longer-lived version of my mistress’ grin. All Hallows’ Eve magic gave Old Bones arms, legs, feet… and she danced.

the wee notes…
– YoBoy was my brother’s dog. My brother failed to name his dog. And since the dog followed my brother everywhere, and my brother was always crying “Yo boy!” (I’m going in Spanish”) whenever my mother left the house, the dog started answering to YoBoy. The name stuck.
– Cobweb was my sweet friend Yvonne’s cat. Cobweb is no longer in the world of the living, but I know that her feline soul (and her memory) will always live… to boss others around.
– This is my contribution to Witches in Fiction 2016: Spelling Healing into a Rotting World.
– Linked to Prompt Nights – A Million Years Howl When Voices Whisper Among The Trees – Halloween Special

spelling-healing-into-a-rotting-world“Spelling Healing into a Rotting World”, by SunshineShelle

67 thoughts on “Dance, Old Bones

  1. This was so sweet! I love that fact that her furry companions were so intent on helping out. So glad Old Bones got her feet! Dancing the world better sounds like fun and we can all do it if we just would. I love this story so much. As one of the staff for 2 kitties, I will say you nailed the attitude and, also the love.

  2. I absolutely love that our furry family will always return to help us, because their love is given without question. A connection beyond mere speech 😀 XXX

  3. I really, truly love this. You work such magic with words, dear Magaly.
    The fact that you included little YoBoy and my Cobweb makes it all the more heartfelt.

    Shelle’s artwork, as always, is the perfect accompaniment to your magical words.

    Thank you – perhaps Cobweb is sitting on my lap right now, trying to capture my fingers as they tap at the keyboard, just as she often did ♥

  4. This made me think of my Faye, and how she’d always stick near me when magic was afoot. Her death anniversary is tomorrow actually. I think I’ll read this again right before I leave out her death day treats.

  5. Oh Magaly ❤️ this is such a heart-stirring story! Especially love the end… I can sense a sort of quiet calm after a raging storm in these lines. Beautifully penned. ❤️

    Lots of love,

    • In a way, our stories played reversed on us… Initially, I was going to write about a character like your Raquel, but found myself writing about cats and dogs. The muse is a weird beast. Happiest Witches in Fiction weekend to you, too, Kat!

  6. I feel like I am a part of this story, that we all are. I am betting we could each see a bit ourselves in Shelle’s painting, too.

    What a wonderful thin WIF is each Autumn. Thank you Magaly <3

    • “…we all are”, indeed! I was hoping everyone would see themselves in the tale. It is one of the main reasons why I didn’t write from the point of view of any of the humans–I wanted all of us to be present and equal. Besides, we all know cats rule the world. 😀

      Thank you for helping me make Witches in Fiction fun… and real.

  7. “YoBoy” and “Cobweb” are such great names for the animal familiars! But when I got to the end of the story and read about the “puppet that smirked creepily” — all I could think of was NO PUPPET! NO PUPPET!

  8. Ahh, dear Magaly! So many things I love about your story. Your success in making animal characters talk, the love and reference to real furry friends (your brother’s dog and Yvonne’s cat) makes the story more affecting, the inclusiveness (I feel part of the story), and most wonderful loyal furries who want to see their Mistress dance again. May she keep dancing!
    Deep yet a delightful read; I bet kids would love it too. ♥

  9. Such a desperate plea from Cobweb and YoBoy to save the world from the killing man, how could anyone refuse(?) our fur babes will always try to protect us so selflessly and I find this so touching coming back, to help, even if anxious (or otherwise impaired) to do so. Loved the solo sniffers, sculptors, spellers, stirring together, perfect, the magic strong, the potion more potent with each unique addition, each one doing their part to heal this rotting world, and the flowers that had been dead since the mistress stopped dancing now blooming, showing a change has happened, and it is spreading, there is hope, and it’s not too late, if we work together we are powerful. This is beautiful Ms Wicked, a fable for those that demand it is time for change. Thank you xoxox

  10. “Humans are mad. I like that about them.” Me too! All the best people are crazy. I’m blessed to be here with the craziest, most creative and caring people. This sweet story has inspired me. Thank you ♥

  11. I really like this story, it has a note of bitter sweetness to it in the ghosts of those that were but hope in that they visit every year and help their humans out. <3 Your writing is beautiful!

    • I know what you mean… It’s nice to know that they are always there with us, even after they’ve gone. But that doesn’t make the fact of their leaving less painful.

      Thanks so much, Hannah. 🙂

  12. Oh I loved this one. Especially the dance….I can see her now, whirling and twirling, boney arms and legs clacking, neck creaking, and look…there between those white, bleached ribs, a beating heart! 🙂

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