Crow & Cross Keys is a new, online literary journal that plucks fiction and poetry from skeletal trees and gives it a place to take root.
Send us your skeleton keys, your tar-black feathers, send us your calcified forests and ramshackle castles. Take us somewhere beautiful and dark and strange.
You are twenty-three and already you have two children, a boy of four and a babe in arms. You have a husband too, a handsome man with a moustache like a flourish. He is in Belgium now and you pray for him every night with the boy beside you, on your knees with your heads bent and your hands pressed together. The boy’s knees are plump and dimpled and when you bathe him, you kiss each knee and tell him you could gobble him up.
A girl who is born by the sea has salt water in her blood. She is nursed by sea foam as well as at her mother’s breast. Her first toys are pearlescent shells, pitted drift glass gems, many-coloured pebbles polished smooth, driftwood shapes that she fits together into odd, twisted figures.
Or, Virago ex machina, is native to far-flung lands, where the air is heavy with sweat. She is drawn to noise, mechanical, and to misery, female. Common habitats include buildings of industry where the walls sag, crumble, and threaten a return to earth.
The bell tolls; their vigil ends, my workday is upon me. I peek through the curtains – drawing them lets in too much dawn – and I squint. It snowed, it snowed a lot. The family are gathered at the doors, mourning and weary faces are pale against the black outfits. The little one is with them, she yawns and holds onto her mother’s sleeve.
My daughter finds the bones after she falls off the swing set. Jane points at them, and I nod. She points again and I nod.
She begins to play with the bones, picking up a clavicle and smacking it against a dorsal bone next to her skinned knee. The skeleton was a small thing, the bones lean and fragile, the whiteness startling even in the cloudy midday light.