The below is a short story treat starring characters from Empty Vessels, as requested by Achichinkla. If you have a scene you’d like to see with any of my characters, drop me a line over here before the end of December!
The horned boy sits on the bone girl’s couch and turns his antler over and over in his hands as the bone girl attempts to stick a bandaid over the lightly bleeding stump.
“Winter is the worst,” he complains. Neither of them are particularly fussed about this moment; it happens every year at this time. The other antler will soon follow suit; annoyingly, they never seem to go at the exact same time. It doesn’t hurt much, but the change in weight is disorienting, tilting his head against his will.
The bone girl frowns and sticks a second bandaid on. He can feel the glue catch in his hair, but that’ll come out with time too. “You’re like the sun,” she says.
He knows her well enough by now that he can almost follow her leap in logic. His eyes track to the yule log burning in her hearth; it was taken from the forest out back, found on her land, as tradition required, and started with the last charcoal from the previous year’s yule log. A celebration of new light being born from the old. Like the sun, his antlers will regrow with the spring. “We’re all like the sun,” he counters. “Yourself as well, m’love.”
After all, Others like the two of them are just an essence that carries on between bodies. When the bone girl isn’t bone any longer, her life will still bear the same light she has now.
The bone girl wrinkles her nose. “That too,” she allows, but it’s clear that something that existential wasn’t entirely what she meant. She kisses his forehead, smudging the blood trying to trickle down there, and takes his antler from him. That she carries into her kitchenette, to place with the rest of the bones she collects to eat. He’s glad he can, at least, provide her this; he’s a good source of free bone, though only once a year.
She comes back out a moment later, bringing out the tea she’s been steeping. He takes his mug with a smile, and doesn’t drink, because he knows how bitter her tea is, but he lets it warm his hands as she settles in beside him, sipping her own tea.
They watch the yule log burn. He leans his side against hers, letting the unbalanced weight bear his head to her shoulder and, despite the throbbing in his forehead, he is content.