by Nate Ragolia
On Monday, the young boy exits the school bus in the afternoon. He bounds down the steps and crosses the suburban street for the alley that cuts between the rows of houses. The young boy passes the Jones, the Websters, the Underdunks, and the Hamiltons, and then something in the middle of the alleyway catches his eye. A burlap sack, tied shut with string, with a note safety pinned to the outside sits rumpled, an errant tumbleweed hooked to its woven exterior. The young boy runs up to the sack, takes the note in his little fingers and tries to read it.
“Fa– fa– fur– ee,” he says. “Free. Free!”
The young boy knows what free means, so he grabs the bag and claws it open. Inside he finds a skull, ribcage, two legs, two arms, hands, fingers, feet, and toes.
“A bag of bones,” he says excitedly.
The young boy closes the bag and drags it behind him through the alley, not stopping until he reaches the abandoned lot at the end of the alley. Once there, the young boy brings the bag of bones to the sandy ground beneath a mound of dirt surrounded by tires, and he starts to dig. He loses track of time, but when he has a dug hole, he places the bag of bones in the hole, and covers it over with dirt. Then he runs home, eager for supper, and not wanting his mom to worry.
On Tuesday, the young boy exits the school bus in the afternoon and runs from the bus, up the alley, and into the abandoned lot. He finds the hole he covered beneath the mound of dirt and lifts the bag of bones out from the ground. The young boy opens the bag and carefully removes each bone. He lays them out on the grass, not sure of their proper order, and creates something resembling a spider with a human head.
“Hello, crab man,” the young boy says.
“Hello, young boy,” the crab man replies.
The young boy and the crab man play tag for a couple of hours until the sun starts to set. Then the little boy puts the bones back in the bag and buries them once again beside the mound of dirt.
On Wednesday, the young boy sprints from the top step of the school bus, leading the driver to yell at him as he zips down the alley to the abandoned lot. The young boy digs up the burlap sack, and pours the bones out on the grass. He arranges them again, this time somewhat resembling a dog with a human head.
“You’re a good pooch,” the young boy says.
“And you’re a good owner,” the pooch replies.
The young boy and pooch play fetch until the sun is going down, and the boy has to pack up the bones, bury them, and run home for supper.
On Thursday, the young boy exits his school bus and soars through the alley toward his friend, buried by the mound of dirt. The young boy digs up the burlap sack, dumps the bones on the grass and lines them up. Today, the arms are low like legs, and the legs are up high by the shoulders, making big wings.
“Looking good, Mr. Bird,” the young boy says.
“Not as good as you,” Mr. Bird replies.
The young boy climbs on Mr. Bird’s back and they fly through the sky, above the clouds, and all around the town. The young boy can see the mailman walking his route, the tiny cars zipping from place to place, and even the roofs of the tallest buildings. They aren’t particularly interesting, except for the one with a swimming pool, and a bunch of ladies sunbathing.
As the sun starts to set, Mr. Bird flies back to the abandoned lot, and the young boy takes him apart, puts him back in the sack, and buries him. Then the young boy runs home.
On Friday, the young boy bolts from the bus, and runs through the alley. Today, Mr. Jones is watering his back lawn.
“Hello, Mr. Jones,” the young boy says.
“Hello,” Mr. Jones answers.
The young boy doesn’t stop. When he reaches the abandoned lot, the young boy digs up the bag of bones and dumps them on the grass. He arranges the bones in a long straight line, with the arms sticking out from the middle of the ribcage, and the rest of the bones making a long tail.
“You’re a mean old dragon,” the young boy says.
“Then you must slay me,” the dragon replies.
In an epic duel, the young boy spins and rolls and dives out of the way of the dragon’s fiery breath. Then, because he is a smart young boy, he climbs up onto the mound of dirt and uses his height advantage to get the drop on the dragon. The dragon doesn’t see him coming.
“You got me!” the dragon cries.
“I got you, dragon!” the boy echoes.
When the sun is close to setting, the boy gathers up the bones and puts them back in the sack and buries them again. Then he goes home for his supper.
One day, the boy simply stops visiting his bag of bones.
Another day, a construction company comes and builds a big house on the abandoned lot.
In time, the young boy grows into a man, and the man gets old, and then dies. And after he is gone his bones find a bag of their own.