Jessica Kinnison is currently pursuing an MFA in fiction writing at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA where she teaches creative writing in the Allegheny County Jail. Her short story “Breaststroke” is forthcoming in the Best of Pif Magazine anthology. Her play “Baby” won the Southwest Theatre and Film Association’s 2008 10-Minute Play Contest. She currently splits her time between New Orleans, LA and Pittsburgh, PA.
Bone on Bone
an excerpt from the story, our Pushcart Prize nomination
I kept a small Civil War-era map of my daddy’s in the glove compartment of my boss’s car when I was stationed in Spain after WWII. A big, black car I drove for a lieutenant. It was a good job. I’d cruise Barcoleneta Beach and talk to the girls.
After I’d cruised a while, I’d stop for a cigarette and an orange soda, and I’d look at my map. I used my finger to trace the dotted lines and tracks from Blakely to my home on Weeks Bay. Blakely, Obstructions, Bayou Minet, Fish River, Obstructions, Alabama City, Weeks Bay, Obstructions, Bon Secour, Fort Morgan, Dauphine Island, the Gulf of Mexico.
The doctor says my hip is bone on bone, or worse. I saw part of a leg bone from the skeleton of Saint Benedict when I was on leave in Samos. The bone was nestled in a golden case with flowers and crosses and velvet curtains. It looked so small, lit from behind like that. The Spanish monk flipped on the switch and the tour group let out a sigh for the bone.
Imagine that monk discovering the bone gone. Just dust on slate un- der the spotlight. My friend, Wout, had a bone sticking out of the skin of his second toe once. The world, touching his bone. Socks and dirt and tape and water were all on Wout’s bone—bone that until then had gone untouched for over thirty-five years.
Men in small Spanish towns carry curved blades that start in the crook of their arms and catch in their opposite hands. Blades as perfectly tailored as two bones in a socket. These men, who spend half their days sitting on benches together, use corn sacks and wool from their sheep to hold their bones in place. Skin, too—tough skin, like the skin of their animals.