issue thirteen

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(1680 words)
Sky Burials
David Woodward
[Updated monthly on the full moon]
Pineappleweed was being taken advantage of. Her free spirit was no longer free. She felt used up. Pieces had been taken from her. Which ones? Pineappleweed ran her fingers gingerly over her naked body, feeling for missing parts. She lingered at her tummy, her index finger entering her umbilicus, her life canal. She pushed the button inward. She never thought of herself as an "outie." She saw herself as an inward reaching person, despite her outgoing nature. Each time she pushed her button inward, out it would pop as soon as she released the soft ball. It grew red and puffy as she played with it. It made her think of Tom and Dick and Harry and Jane. On several occasions, hadn't she tried to push them out the door - only to have them pop right back in? They never asked for money or food. They didn't even want a shoulder to cry on. But they wanted something. Something Pineappleweed had. She could feel something being extracted from her when her new friends were around.
Pineappleweed circled the tattoo around her outer life force, deciding she would retreat inward, finally. She would become more illusive, distant. She would become a tower of silence. Standing in front of the full-length mirror in her bedroom - her fingers encircling the edges of the blistering sun: the rays jagged, yellow and red; the center, her navel, returning to its original colour: a cool blue - she was caught off-guard by a reflection. It stood behind hers. It stood in the open doorway. The dark hallway lay beyond, out of focus, a black tunnel. She brought her eyes closer into the mirror, nearer to the visible, the reflection at her open door. Their eyes locked into one another. Nothing escaped. The deeper image, the one furthest in the mirror, spoke first.

"Sorry, Pineappleweed. I didn't know you were here."

Pineappleweed nodded gently to the other set of eyes in the mirror. Her eyes did not wander to any other parts of the body. "I live here, Dick."

"Yes, yes, I know. But I thought you were going out to... Wasn't there a job interview, or something you had to go to?"

Pineappleweed noticed Dick's eyes leaving hers in the mirror. They headed south. She wasn't ashamed or embarrassed by her yellowy body. However, she put her hands over her hairy bush. The sandy pubes were thick, out of control.

"Um, Dick." Pineappleweed was calm, serene with her male guest.

"Yes, Pineappleweed."

"Could you come back later?"

"Yes, yes, certainly." Dick didn't move, however; his eyes roamed over every nook and cranny in the full-length mirror.

Pineappleweed sighed. She could feel parts of her body being removed. A knife cut into her, taking everything that remained; her innards were being swallowed whole by the vulture who stood further into the reflective glass, within striking distance. She gazed into the glass as though it were another world, a portal to another side. She felt so depleted by the sight that it could have been a television set that she was watching, on or off.

       In her summer dress she made her way down to the kitchen. At one time, it had been her kitchen. But she didn't like to think in those terms: ownership, possessions. Belonging to the material side had never appealed to her. Her door was always open.
Her bare feet slapped gingerly against the wood floor, hardly emitting sound. The balls of her feet were always filthy, always happy in their free existence.

"Ah! Good God, you scared me, Pineappleweed!"

Pineappleweed continued on into the kitchen, ignoring the intruder at the table doing a word search puzzle.

"Sorry, Pineappleweed. I didn't know you were here. I thought..."

Pineappleweed shrugged. She was through caring what Dick thought. Or was this one called Tom? Or Harry? She often called Dick "Harry" or Harry "Dick." They never corrected her. No one seemed to mind. Pineappleweed could never keep track of their names, or their faces for that matter. She wasn't a name or a face person. She preferred smells. Hers was fruity and sweet, naturally. Yes, like pineapple. Like pineappleweed. The tiny weed - or wildflower, as she would correct people - which grew out of dirty sidewalk cracks, along cracks in driveways, cracks at the base of houses. A ubiquitous plant. Any waste-place with a minute crack would do.

Pineappleweed started calling herself this name one day when she crushed the tiny yellow flower head between her fingers and took in the fragrant aroma. It was the sweetest scent she had ever inhaled. And it came from such a nondescript little wildflower that pushed out of the most unlikely of places. The minuscule flower so small that most people don't even see it. But people walk over it all the time as they rush to and fro along sidewalks, road edges, driveways and paths of all sorts. Barely above the surface of the ground, the bulbous little flower doesn't seem to mind, it just bounces right back up.

Pineappleweed grabbed a glass of orange juice from the fridge and headed outside, leaving whoever was at the kitchen table to do his mind-altering word search. She could care less about hidden words of any kind. If they were concealed somewhere on the page, perhaps that was where they wanted to be. Tom, Dick or Harry could not free them - just as Pineappleweed couldn't free them. No word was free. The mother of human invention, it was bound within the chains of its inventor.

"Hey, Pineappleweed. I can't find..." But Pineappleweed was gone. Her light feet hadn't made a sound. All that lingered was her sweet scent; fruity and juicy and restless, it, too, moved on when it noticed that she was gone. Following her out the door, her luscious scent made a beeline towards its rightful owner.

       Outside in the fondling sun, Pineappleweed sniffed the air. It smelled like August, an August sun. Mixed in with the August sun was her own scent. She could smell herself all around. She was blooming all about. In every available crack. The cracks were filled, completed, the springy yellow heads barely above the surface of the hard concrete. She loved their low stature, their rugged determination in a hard environment.

A sudden summer breeze rushed through her, the kind that appear out of nowhere and might not come along again for the entire day. It was gentle yet it pushed her loose dress upward, exposing more of herself, all of her lower extremities. She didn't mind. She pushed her head back, way back, and felt the warm, alleviating rush. She felt it for all it was worth, her own head rushing at the delightful sensation that her loins were experiencing. When she brought her head forward, her eyes opening, her lips parting lightly, she stood face to face with Dick, again. Or was it Tom? Or Harry?


"Sorry, Pineappleweed. I didn't know you were here today. I..."

Pineappleweed pushed her dress down carefully over her privates, the ends brushing over her thighs, barely covering. She shook her head. "I need some time... to think... To be... myself."


She tried to tell him that perhaps he should go somewhere else, away from her. She tried to tell him to take Tom and Harry with him. Jane would surely follow. She tried to tell him that her parts were being stripped away, piece by piece. She wasn't certain if any remained. She could feel her outer layer. And, indeed, it appeared to be intact. But the rest: the innards, the organs, might be gone. She wanted to tell him this. Perhaps if she did, then he'd understand - something - and leave her be. She wanted to tell him about the Tower of Silence. How the Parsi place their dead upon a raised platform for the vultures to eat. It is a nest for the dead, a feast for the hungry. Suspended in midair, they await their next life. It is meant to free them. It is meant to release their spirit into the body of a bird, the freest of all living creatures. From there, who knows, their spirit could go anywhere, be anything, become what they want to be, see what they want to see. But she remained silent. She had become a tower of silence. Tom and Dick and Harry would have to learn this on their own. They would have to learn all things on their own. Once, in a distant world, she knew a man named Sky. He had set her free. Their force, their energy was a carelessly guided missile which shot through the night. Night after night, their spirits roared through the heavens but not a word was spoken between them. They hadn't a clue what to say. At a loss for words, they had filled their void with all they had had, their spirits. But that was all gone. Pineappleweed was spiritless, abject. She wondered if Sky had ever existed. He had never said a word to her the entire time they were together. She had no idea how long it had really been. Now, Tom, Dick and Harry were sucking everything out of her. They were too demanding. Too needy. Too bodily in their functions. They had too many words for her once they were through with her. Their words had no meaning; the thoughts behind them were abject, spiritless. She, herself, had nothing left to say. She had given them everything - nothing remained. She could feel herself floating higher and higher. The vultures were waiting. They would eat her up. It would be a good feast. She was a worthy meal. She would soon be free. A true free spirit at long last.

       As Pineappleweed rose and rose, a voice called from down below.

"Pineappleweed? Pineappleweed?"

No response. She was too high now.

"I'm sorry. Pineappleweed... Jane, I'm sorry."


M  C  R

This work is copyrighted by the author, David Woodward. All rights reserved.