Stacked close and covered in rocks, the bodies carve a pose and keep still. They wait under the pier hiding. They hide from they don't know what. Waves crash up and crinkle their skin, soaked in and brittled. No sun shines to darken them. The only choice is to fade. Their expressions never change. They look straight ahead, wait to be handled. Young boys slip toward them, get an eyeful, leave a stain.
Sometimes the boys can not find them. The creek creeps up, jostles them loose, and smothers them afloat. Downstream they go till they're heavy enough to sink down and drown. It's common for bodies to be lost in bunches, but the boys usually know where to look.
One day a father finds the bodies. The father is not pleased. He slurs words the boys do not want to hear, face red with rage. He grabs what he can, smacks the boys with bodies till the boys black out, bones crunched under boots.
Back home the father puts the bodies back where they belong. He likes to watch the bodies and he likes the bodies to watch him. Sometimes he looks in the mirror, watches them all watching each other. The mother mimics poses the bodies make. She bends and curls in ways that aren't meant for her, skin crumpled in pathetic places, all wrong. The father fixes his eyes elsewhere.
The boys look everywhere: the woods, garage, basement, back shed, all cabinets and drawers, corners and cracks. Sometimes the father leaves extra bodies lying around, but not this time.
So the boys start using their own mouths and hands to do what the bodies once did. One of the boys likes it and the other doesn't. The one who likes it smiles wide, wipes his hairlip dry. The one who doesn't goes looking again. There's a place the boys are always too afraid to go.
He steps alone down the hallway in silence. Voices crack and break through thin walls. The boy cups his ear, leans in to tunnel the sound. A smacking pulse creaks the door loose. He clutches the handle, pauses a breath before thrusting through.
There lay the mother, face smothered in a pillow, skin sagging toward the sheets. The father angles into her, flashes the boy a crooked grin that won't quit. The bodies must be somewhere close, the boy can feel it. But as the door slams shut behind him, the boy forgets to look.
Kelly Stark writes: "I'm a musician, and only recently started writing stories. i have no idea what I'm doing and it feels exciting. I've got a piece forthcoming at Cease, Cows, which will be my first publication."