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  Table of contents Issue Twenty-three HIDE ME IN THE HILLS

by
KATIE KRANTZ
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T

hey watched the warm glow of day spread; it utterly failed in the endeavor of burying yesterday, burying her. They were across a valley and over the mountains. Soaring above trees and bunnies and everything that grows in these empty hills. The sun peeled away the shadows beneath the trees, exposing the remnants of the night.



“How did it feel for you?” He rubbed dirt away from his jaw with his thumb. Dark blood smeared across his knuckle, the same brown-black as her shimmering slip dress.



“Scary. Painful.” Her voice was flat. Settling back against the trunk of a fragrant eucalyptus tree, cheap satin snagged against bark, tugging a tired, weak strap off her shoulder. “I probably could’ve guessed that it would end this way.” A clump of tangled brown hair fell over her collarbone, leaving it to sparkle in the rising light.



“Maybe,” he said, leaning forward on the rock.



“Do you feel guilty?” Her eyes welled with tears and sunlight, pushed by a pain that ripped at every seam in her body.



“No. Does that make me a monster?”



“Probably.” Definitely, she thought, definitely. His eyebrows wrinkled as he fought himself for an answer, humanity and conscience screaming in his mind, locked away in tiny cells like prisoners meant for death row.



She stroked her bare arms, painfully aware of the texture of her skin. Fingertips bounced over mountains of scars, traced lakes of bruises. Lifting a frail wrist to her eyes, she examined the blood pooling beneath delicate paper-skin. For a moment, her body collapsed in on itself, a mountain range of spine curling around bare legs and arms, tangled into an unsortable mess. He sat, unmoving, watching in hungry curiosity as she began to shake.



Clutching her left wrist to her heart, she unfolded, staring straight into the horizon. She kicked away a platform heel higher than her head. It rolled away from her, onto a mound of fluffy, fresh dirt, a cloud in the earth. Squishy worms examined the new toy.



“No one’s going to find this,” Her face was overturned by a sneer, a rock thrown into the surface of a placid lake. “That’s why I’m here isn’t it? No one will even look.”



He shrugged, wiping his injured thumb on his jeans. Tears welled up again. Her eyes grew glassy, flooding bloodshot whites and turning flat grey irises to blue. Carefully, she stretched her legs out, flexing gnarled toes. When she moved, the slip shivered across her body, falling over her thighs in watery patterns. It glimmered falsely, turning and twisting, revolving around tears and revealing a new stain with every movement. She stretched her head back and pressed her shoulder blades together, flashing a bright red smear in his direction. The liquid seeped from her sharp collarbones to her hungry stomach.



“Were you planning to leave soon?” He began to look around, listening for the hikers in expensive workout tights and custom-fitted sneakers.



“I don’t know where to go, and I can’t go back.”



“Will it be better for you this way?”



“I don’t know.” Probably.



“I like to think I did you a favor.” You didn’t.



She shrugged. The only obvious downsides of his actions were the irreversibility and her ruined heels. The cops would be pleased, anyway. One less problem for them.



“Your name isn’t John, is it?”



“No. Yours isn’t Rosé, is it?”



“No.” They returned to staring into the sun. It cleared the mountains by a centimeter, lighting up the sky like a heavenly spotlight, shining down on the wreckage of last night. The light crept quietly across sins scattered across the underbrush, a cat tracking a mouse.



“You didn’t have the right to do it,” she informed him. Her voice was the same kind of dangerous tight as a tightrope, and her tears balanced on a pin, ready to fall. She pushed a toe into the disturbed patch. When the dirt shifted, she jumped back, scared by the truth. She crawled over to it, pressing her hand into the airy soil. Behind her, she heard his knees crack as he lifted himself off the stump. His shovel smacked against a tree trunk. Twigs crunched. When she finally turned to look in his direction, he was just a shadow of her past.



She gazed at the leaves scattered across the patch. Slowly, she stretched out across the area, sprawling as wide as she could. Her hair mixed with the dirt. She pushed her hand down, down, down. Beneath the soil, her fingers curled around a familiar object. She let her fingers move around it, poking and prodding and stroking. They brushed over bruised knuckles, grazed broken fingers, and caressed acrylic nails. She slipped her fingers between its and pulled with all of the strength in her stick-arm. Yanking it upwards, first came the carefully painted nails. The bloodied digits. A wrist at an impossible angle. They all perfectly mirrored the hand still coated by her sun-damaged skin. She stared lovingly at the appendage. Her living hand stroked dead bruises as the sun rose while she lay on her side in the dirt.



She was never found.



   
   

 

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Katie Krantz is a student and writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. She has had publications in multiple journals, including: Ricky’s Back Yard, The Sanitarium, 365 Tomorrows, and Metamorphose Lit. In November of 2017, she had an Author Spotlight on the front page of Metamorphose. She enjoys warm teas, desserts, and the color purple.



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