The skull was laying in the trodden down wheat field daring me to pick it up. It looked like the remains of a deer or a cow without the horns, I couldn’t really tell because it wasn’t whole and the jaw was missing. The bone was clean, snowy white and looking out of place in this yellow-brown acre.
‘Just walk away,’ I said aloud and turned my back on the skull, ‘but it looks so good and far better then the fake ones you’ve seen. And wouldn’t it make the perfect table center piece for Halloween dinner? No, you don’t know where it’s been, Bryce!’
I walked back the way I had come, brittle stalks crunching under my boots. The wind blew tassels of my flame red hair and rattled the branches of trees. A crow cawed in the distance and the clogging smell of upturned soil blocked the air.
Isn’t that exactly what you’ve been looking for? A voice in the back of mind that was half my own and half not whispered, it’s right there for the taking, a gift from nature. No one else would give it the admiration and respect it deserves. Go back and get it!
I stopped and spoke aloud, ‘No, No! I just can’t!’
Why? the head voice asked, who would know you’d taken it? No one knows its there. If the farmer finds it he’ll crush it with his tractor or just throw it away. Could you bare that? You should rescue it! Keep it safe!
I pressed my lips together, scrunched up my face and turned back around. I wanted the skull to be gone but it was still laying there, a rectangle of stark white in an yellow nest. That’s how I’d seen it to begin with from up on the ridge of the woods. It was hard to be sure what it was from over there but seeing the murder of crows flapping above had made me believe it was a wounded animal. I couldn’t have walked away from that.
A dog barked sharply, jumping me out of my thoughts. I look around, hoping it was in the woods but no, the dog was in the field with me! It was a big, black and brown beast which was bounding towards me! Giving no more thought, I dashed back to the skull, snatched it up, despite the heaviness of it and raced out of the field like an Olympic gold medal runner.
I scrambled over the lowered barbed wire fence, clutching the skull to my chest. I stumbled but got back up and over the ridge into the trees. I ran through the woods, out of them and over a main road before my burning lungs forced me to stop. Looking wildly around, I saw no sign of the dog, only a startled man who looked to be in his fifties, waiting at a bus stop.
‘You all right, love?’ he called.
I nodded, too breathless to speak.
‘What happened? What you got there?’ he asked, pointing towards the skull.
I glanced down at it, my mind racing and said the first thing that came into my mouth, ‘I’m fine. Jogging with weights, new exercise plan.’
Before he could reply, I turned and walked quickly away, my words echoing stupidly round my head.
I made it home with the skull without meeting anyone else. On my doorstep, meowing his head off was one of my black cats. He stopped and watched me as I approached, seemly startled that I was outside and not inside getting ready to open the door for him.
‘Hi, Spooky. Where you been? I just had an adventure!’
He yowled and weaved around my feet. I let us both in and we headed into the kitchen. I placed the skull in the sink, ran the hot tap and washed my hands. Water splashed on the skull, darkening it. I washed it and realised I would to have research how to clean best.
Spooky jumped up on the counter next to the sink and I held the skull towards him. He took a few sniffs, whiskers twitching.
‘What do you think? isn’t this going to be perfect for Halloween?’
(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/10/11/thursday-photo-prompt-bone-writephoto/ with thanks).