BENEATH THE FLOORBOARDS (THERE ARE BONES)
by Julia Dixon Evans

 

Our house is on the side of a mountain, between the desert and the ocean, alone. Daniel has lived here before, as a child, but I’ve only lived here my entire life with him, two years, and sometimes I feel like I was nobody before him and sometimes I feel like I was everything before him and it’s all at the bottom of this mountain.

“You’re mine, Grace,” he says to me. “I love you more than life.”

 

#

 

Daniel doesn’t know about this place, beneath the floorboards of the gardening shed at the end of our property. He never comes in here because he never has enough time to work on our garden anyway. That’s my job. The food.

It’s dark down here, but vast. An entire dwelling. I keep my things here. There’s room for everything, there’s room for me.

 

#

 

“Let’s drink wine tonight,” he says.

“To us,” I say.

“To us.”

“I want a child,” he says.

I pour a fresh glass.

“I’m not sure,” I say.

“You’ll be a beautiful mother,” he says.

“I can’t,” I say.

“Give me your glass,” he says. “Come here.”

“I can’t,” I say. “I won’t survive it.”

The fireplace is the only light in here. We have a generator but most nights we do not use it. Most nights I want the day to end as soon as the sun goes down. 

“You can survive anything if you put your mind to it,” he says. “And I’m here. You can survive anything with me by your side.”

I smile, I close my eyes.

“I won’t,” I don’t say.

 

#

 

He’s rough tonight.

“Daniel,” I say between my teeth, between the pain, my face pressed down against the pillow. “Daniel.”

“My love,” he says, and he curls his fingers deeper into the hollows inside of my hipbones. “My love.”

I spread my arms wide and lift my toes off the bed, my entire body supported by just my knees and my face. I splay out each finger and maybe they’re feathers and these arms are my wings and I want to take flight but then he slows down and fucks deeper and my fingers snap into fists. I twist the sheets, and they’re bones, they’re skulls, they’re tiny animals and I crush and crush and crush.

 

#

 

There’s blood mixed in to his semen when it falls out of me.

 

#

 

It’s dark, though I am very good at seeing out here in the dark, and he has fallen asleep after laying with me. His breathing is strong and steady, a heartbeat slowed down, the heartbeat of this house, the heartbeat of where I live. This is the time I have.

My vision is good for this, quick and twitchy. Even with just a partial moon, waning, it only takes a single glimmer on a tiny eyeball, and I find one. I’ll take anything. But here, on a mountain between the desert and the sea, it’s mostly rodents and lizards.

I catch it with one hand.

 

#

(Read the rest of this story and more in San Diego Horror Professionals Vol 3.)