Feeding on the Past

by Miranda Gaw

Theirs is a civilization for which bones are the principal ingredient: bone flutes, bone toothbrushes, bone computers, bone cars, bone TVs. Coins, for example, are disks of cured bone, hollow in the center where the marrow has rotted away. The pair of delicate bones that hold each woman's hair up off her shoulders can also double as an emergency pair of knitting needles, or a makeshift hammer or wrench. One has markings down its side so it can double as a ruler, the other encircles a stem of ink and can be used as a pen. A single bone can be fractured to create a key and its lock; these keys can never be duplicated. Cast lots, for fortune-telling, burned and sent up in smoke; an incense made of bones ground together with herbs and doused in perfume; bones steeped to make broths or tea.

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Miranda Gaw, when not sleeping hard, writes at geegaw.com.