Two Skeletons in a Snow Globe

Submitted into Contest #149 in response to: Write about two people who form a bond with each other through music.... view prompt

6 comments

Fiction

The haunting melody begins at dusk each day, like clockwork. It is Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14, of that I am sure. 

I step aside from my usual perch behind the weathered gravestone and roll out my stiff shoulders. Tired from standing all day long, I kneel down and rest against the head of the gravestone. With slow swipes, I smooth out the ruffles in my pink skirt and finally begin to relax. 

Next to me is a small, orange jack o’lantern, grinning. Gently, I lift it from the ground and cradle the pumpkin in my arms. It’s something to hold onto in here. 

It won’t be long now. He always comes wandering down the hill once the music has started. I don’t know his name, but with just the two of us, there’s really no need for names, is there? 

My friend wears an odd black top hat and a pink bow tie to match my skirt. I think we’re meant to be a pair.  

We chose long ago not to stand together, to simply maintain our own space --- to keep our sanity. It’s better this way. Yet, once the music begins each day, it is our unspoken rule to reunite. I would like to think the music unsettles him too, though, we never speak of it. 

The somber tune, which bonds the only life we will forever know, plays on. And sure enough there he is, on time as usual.

“Evening,” I chirp, in a playful tone. 

“Why are we so happy today, love?” he asks 

“Didn’t you hear? Beethoven is decomposing.”

He lets out a hearty laugh and it almost warms me. It’s a running joke between us and it seems to get funnier each day we’re in here. After he wipes his mouth and settles down, he looks at me with his dark, mournful eyes, and I can hear his ghostly voice drift over the sonata. 

“Why are we here?” He asks. I only shake my head. It’s the same question he wonders about from time to time, the same one I myself have struggled with. We try to come up with intricate origin stories and daring plotlines for our respective pasts, but the truth is, we’re just two skeletons in a snow globe, him and I. 

Over the years we’ve been tapped at, tampered with and tossed upside down. Yet still we stand, our bones glued to something stronger than plastic.

I smile weakly at him and extend my bony arms, handing him the pumpkin. 

“It’ll be as it should. Have faith in our place here” I say. I hardly believe myself, but I do my best to comfort my dear friend. He sighs loudly and plops down beside me. We bump shoulder to shoulder and it’s nice to feel him close. 

“They’ll be home soon, you know, and they might bring the little one” he warns. It’s just like him, to be so worried about the “next thing,” as if we have any control over anything. And really, all of those “things” don’t matter when it comes down to it. He might be on edge, uncertain and always pessimistic, but I love him more for it. 

“Yes,” I start, a small smile creeping across my lips. “And wouldn’t that be something if they saw us sitting together like this.” 

He furrows his brow and looks gravely at me. “You’re joking.” 

I try to maintain a straight face, but break when I see he’s starting to believe me. My laugh echoes loud and long across our tiny cemetery, eclipsing the music for just a moment. 

“I love you,” I whisper, as I rest my head on his shoulder. 

“I love you more,” he finishes.  

Suddenly, a series of ear-splitting thuds catapults our way. We begin to bounce up and down with each monstrous boom, holding onto one another as tightly as we possibly can. But I already know it, we’re too late and we’re not where we’re supposed to be. 

As quickly as it starts, it stops, and we’re left disheveled and displaced, frozen in a deafening silence. 

I am the first to see the little one. 

***

Before me, a large set of unblinking blue eyes stares down into mine. As if in complete astonishment, the mouth those eyes belong to hangs agape. We stay still, not knowing what else to do. 

The little one appears to see me. The wheels in my head start turning and my friend notices my curiosity. 

“Don’t move!” He hisses. “Maybe it thinks we are broken. It hasn’t seen us yet…”

But I’m not listening to him, I can’t listen to him. And he’s wrong, anyway. It has seen us. It sees us right now. 

Ever so slowly, I push myself up off the floor and move towards the glass walls encasing me, towards those large blue eyes. When I cannot take another step, when I am as close to the wall as I can get, I rest my hands on the glass and offer a small smile. I want the little one to know I am here. 

The mouth, which still hangs wide, twitches, then closes abruptly. 

I never take my eyes off of it and the little one never takes its eyes off of me. Locked in this stalemate we stay, for how long, I do not know. While it could have been hours, it might have been seconds. 

But in that time, we exchange a lifetime --- world wandering, wild beauty, kaleidoscopes of colors --- and everything that matters, everything that marks a moment, makes the stillness speak. 

I know it has seen me, as I have seen it. 

Eventually, I watch as the little one’s lips give way and it smiles, too. 

But it’s time to say goodbye. I lift my arm and wave. The little one inches even closer and then the thunderous booms begin again. It is leaving. I topple slightly but maintain my balance, watching the creature disappear into the dark space surrounding my globe. 

I wonder if I will ever get to do this again and my chest seems to ache in response. No, I don’t think I will. Funny, how we can kind of sense these things. 

My friend has already left and resumed his post. He will not chance being seen again so soon. But I know I will hear from him later about my encounter, once the music starts again. For now, I decide to turn back, too. Best not to overdo it.  

And with that, I turn around and head back to my gravestone. I make sure to set the pumpkin back down beside my feet. I twist him until he is grinning at the glass wall again. I straighten up and click into position, waiting until every bone in my body locks into place. 

All that is left is our silent cemetery.  

*** 

Time passes. More time passes, so much more. Then, all at once, It begins. 

It has only happened a handful of times and It always starts with the flipping of our familiarities. Everything right is down and everything down is right, quickly, then it’s over. By the time we’ve realized It’s begun, we’re right side again, and we get to stare in absolute awe at the glittering site engulfing us. 

Swirls of snow and confetti begin to flit overhead, while light prisms, caught by streams of sunlight, illuminate and radiate our little glass globe. 

I know the confetti and snow are just small bits of colored paper, star-shaped and square-bound. But somehow, they are everything. 

They are all possibilities, pressed into this tiny space, waiting to be released. They are my future glistening, my emotions glowing and our entire world, waiting to be released.

I look over at him as he looks back at me, and together, we see a life worth living.

Sometime long after the confetti and snow settle, he breaks the silence. 

“It can be so beautiful, trapped in here with you.”

June 10, 2022 16:27

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6 comments

K. Antonio
17:51 Jun 12, 2022

Amber, hello! Hope you don't mind me commenting. Amber, I read your story and all I can say is that I found it very tender, weird, and super creative. The setting you chose is very interesting, and though the title essentially reveals the premise (I thought maybe it was a more poetic or figurative title) I was positively shocked. If I were to so anything about the piece, is that I think it could actually benefit from more speculative elements and allusions. There's a moment in the piece when your narrator reveals that they are in a snow ...

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Amber Autumn
05:03 Jun 13, 2022

Hello K. Antonio, Thank you so much for the constructive/fantastic feedback and kind words, I very much appreciate it! -Amber

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John K Adams
21:23 Jun 16, 2022

This story is so 'other worldly,' I hardly know what to say. Poetic, and more of a poem than a story, it is impossible. Yet your charming style and tender details make it captivating. I'm impressed.

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Amber Autumn
15:26 Jun 17, 2022

Thank you, John!

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Katy Borobia
17:57 Jun 12, 2022

Such a creative take on the prompt! So spooky, yet so human. -katy b

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Amber Autumn
05:00 Jun 13, 2022

Thank you very much Katy!

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