The Skeleton

The city was a large oasis, renowned for its bathing pools, lush trees and wide avenues. A woman with child was traveling, and came to bathe her tired feet and rest. The turquoise water felt so good, she drifted off into sleep. The sound of weeping and frantic speech awoke her, but she saw nothing unusual. Young maidens in soaked gowns cooled their thighs, philosophers in immaculate loin cloths walked slowly, holding their bright umbrellas, and youths swam and splashed. She got up and walked the shaded streets, following the mournful sound, until she came to a dark and deserted pool, where a skeleton sat on the stone edge, dangling its legs in the water just as she had done moments ago. In between fits of weeping, the weathered and cracked skeleton praised her own beauty, spread her femora wide open, and promised infinite pleasure to whoever would caress her and praise her beauty. The mother stared in disbelief until a passerby explained that it was the enchanted skeleton of a once wealthy princess who had practiced starvation and meditation in order to become the most beautiful woman in the world. Cursed for her arrogance, she was doomed to live without peace and weep as a skeleton, mocked by all who passed by, unless someone slept with her. Lay with me, lay with me, the skeleton whispered and sobbed, her phalanges stretching out in a seductive gesture, as she overheard the exchange of words. Almost in tears herself, the mother went over, picked up the skeleton, and cradled it in her arms, carrying it and walking the broad streets leading out of the city, while the skeleton hissed and hissed. Beyond the gates, where the oasis faded into stones and pebbles and mountains of rust and snow, the mother kissed the forehead of the skeleton. She asked it to sing. The skeleton sang an old air beautifully in a distant and soft voice. Laying the skeleton down, and holding it like an infant, pressing its skull to her breast, the mother said that she was indeed very beautiful, and they would sleep together for awhile. The mother sang a lullaby as the bones broke into dust, and the sobbing and whispering returned to the peaceful rustle of sand and gentle sough of wind.