Contours

An eight year-old from the neighborhood is the first to find me. The two-inch-tall grass around my eyes compels me to look straight up into the sky overhead, so I feel him before I see him. The boy shifts his weight from foot to foot, pushing dirt down around each of my kneecaps in turn. Had I buried myself deeper, his load would be less, but the sod cutter only allows for two-and-a-half inches of earth between me and the surface.

I think I might be showing. Perhaps there’s a fault between the two belts of turf I pulled into place overhead. Maybe the boy has studied this spot as I have, has learned its contours, was drawn by the addition of my presence. Stepping onto my chest, the boy looms into view, blocking my view of the sky. I try not to cry as my ribs flex.

The boy looks down into my eyes. I make promises to my future self. Next time I will not cut a hole for my eyes. Next time I will be a tree. Tomorrow I’ll hollow out a tree and wear it as a carapace. Pleaching the plant around my form, I’ll become a part of the landscape that no one will walk on.

Now the boy lies down and looks into my eyes. I shut them tight against his hungry gaze.

Stretched across the ground, his weight is negligible. I wonder what he wants, how long he intends to stay. The grass conducts his heat into the cool earth above me. I imagine myself as a tree and realize that no one ever really hugs a tree.

I open my eyes. He is still up there looking at me. Maybe the tree can wait.

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