His ears were gone. So were his hands, his feet, his nose.
Dancing across the snow perhaps, but no matter – he did not need them anymore, their tickling touches, their prickling pounces; they could finger print the sky with touches of lavender, of silk, of memory – for they had gone, as all missing things are, to better things. It was a look of stoicism that captured his face; that sleeping radiance that none can understand. He could not grasp it, could not feel it, but it was there.
The wolves had torn him apart.
The woods froze as if it withheld a gasp – it fainted, like so many ideas, behind its own shadows and its own impulses; it rose quietly beneath the sharper edges of his vision, until there was nothing left. Perhaps their pack needed his ears more than he; they had torn them with greed. Perhaps they needed his feet more; their own hurt from walking, and found that they soles of an eight year old boy were more suitable, so that they might decorate the snow like a child. He had not run quickly from their thievery of parts.
And now his sister found him, more stretched and damp than a torn, red napkin.
"Brandon –" swirling branches. Movement in the silence. The presence of no one.
"Steep hills," he might have said, "Are best for finding your way -" But his lips do not move because they do not remain, a secret best kept for the dead.
The jays swirl overhead, but their wings are like pomegranates; they strike her head and fill her with sound, for she is their philosopher and they her thoughts; they lack articulation, certitude, strength, teetering upon the branches like words before the saying – and they sit before a small, broken nest, urging a chick to reach, topple, and learn.
What was it like, to look upon the world through the eyes of a bird? One so young as to never have seen before, one so young as to view the snow for the first time; to see the shell first, and then a foot of your own; and then to look out of the nest to see a boy, a still, torn, fragment of a person, veins strewn over the earth in blue clumps, flesh torn across the ice like sheets. A star of bone and red, teeth and flesh; did it imagine the world so? Did it regret breaking apart its egg, tearing down a world so plain for a world so grim, and beg its mother, through watering chirps, to piece it back together?
They nudged the tiny animal toward the edge again. It squealed in disapproval, ratcheting its tiny neck.
There was nothing now; nothing there for that animal, nothing there for that boy. There was silver in the clouds and paint in the sky, but only where footprints cannot reach them; only where wings cannot beat them. To reach out and touch these unseen, deafened treasures – "Where now, will you walk?" – she speaks, but only to herself – "Without your feet?"
The birds cry and the world stills. Snow vibrates from a thousand miles away.
This corpse had never been an ordinary child. His mind was stooped, settled, and retired. He was old beyond his years, but not as a token of intelligence; rather, he showed the ill-temper and senility of an old man, withered somewhere between normal and unmistakably damaged. And he would wander off to seek the edge of the world, never knowing that the world would loop around back again, placing his feet back where they started. Until today, he could not find the where the earth concluded and the sky began; it was tucked away with all of those other unseen things, compiled at last with his hands, his feet, his nose.
The edge of the world was his; the entirety of the world was his. Here in this corner of the earth, in this corner of nonexistence, where there once was consciousness and bitterness, blood and leaves, a banquet of death and misery, a child had learned to fly; and the little chick watched ceaselessly, appealing to its teacher for a lesson in flight.
"The heart is an impatient bird…" The words flow through her ventricles, pump through her veins, drip from her eyes. "It does not realize that to be set free, it need only stand still.