Bones

Ocean Teu

My mother has skeleton keys for eyes, hollow and silver-toothed. My mother says I have too many mouths. My mother once ripped a plum in half with her bare hands, saying, This is what girlhood does to you. My mother is a myth more than anything else. She vanishes and leaves me one of her eyes: a silver key that can open any lock. My mother taught me to search, so I slither across the world, key dangling from my neck. My mother’s ghost guides me across the land, purple and strewn with bodies like uprooted weeds.


I wander through cities and suburbs, telephone wires sparking above me. Moths orbit the streetlamps. I use the key to open house doors and find empty rooms, bones buried in backyards. Behind every door is a dead end road, a cul-de-sac, static on a television. A deer lays dead by the side of the road, full of bullets. Beetles crawl over her wounds. I slip the key into one of the bullet holes and turn it. The beetles scatter. There is nothing inside the deer but bones.


I find a boy, lopsided and snaggle-toothed, and say to him: Open. I slip the key into his mouth, turning it in the cavern of his throat until he screams. There are others too: a girl with beetles for eyes, a person with translucent skin like a newt, a boy missing his left pinky toe. I open all of them and find nothing.


One day I find my own body lying in a field, palms turned toward the sky, eyes hollow and silver toothed. I lay next to it like a twin. The grass parts around me. The moon opens above us like a door. The key rests in the indent between my collarbones, shifting with my breaths. I close my eyes. I stay in the field until I don’t know the difference between other’s bodies and my own, until my shadow drags behind me like a daughter, until my many mouths turn into one. I stay in the field until all I can remember is my mother, silver eyes burning, plum juice trickling down her forearms, saying, This is what girlhood does to you.

About the Author

Ocean Teu is a high school senior from San Francisco. Other than writing, they enjoy drive-in movies, eating sumo oranges, and drawing doodles of cats. They run an online magazine of speculative writing, nightjarmag.com.