Piecemeal—Sebastian Murdoch

content warning: violence, murder

Eudora Crosby would have sworn, on pain of death, that they did what they did to that Guerra girl in the most humane way possible. As far as she was concerned, there was no reason for the girl to be haunting the town the way she was. No reason at all.

“It’s just plain pettiness,” she said to Mrs. Rutledge over tea one day not long after the hauntings started. The two old women had not actually laid hands on the girl, but neither would deny having been present for the whole messy ordeal. Unlike some of the other townspeople, they had not been particularly possessed of any strong opinion about the awful business, except that they thought it best that it take place in the woods outside the town. For the sake of efficiency in the cleaning up and burial. Blood, they thought, would be difficult to clean out of the fountain located in the town square, where everyone else, including Amos Turner, had initially thought to do it. But who listens to a pair of old biddies anymore? And that was probably why the girl was back so soon after all.

“It’s a terrible nuisance, it is,” Mrs. Rutledge said, taking a sip of her tea, but only after staring into the cup for a long time. “Puts you right off your supper.”

“And wasteful too,” said Eudora. “All those leftovers gone straight in the trash.” She’d already lost two batches of green bean casserole that way, and she pictured all of that otherwise fine food piling up in her garbage can, untouched.

No one had been sure, at first, that it was pieces of Abigail Guerra in their food. But then it was Eudora herself who discovered the first lilac-painted fingernail poking up from the center of her casserole, as if it had a question in desperate need of answering. The nail polish had been so distinct to Abigail that there was no question that it belonged—had belonged?—to her, the Portuguese girl who’d moved to town by herself only six months past.

Now, everyone was finding pieces of her everywhere—in their cereal, in their mashed potatoes, even in their bundles of fresh produce. It was enough to put a person off eating entirely, which Eudora supposed was the point.

Eudora took a slow, careful sip of her tea—as far as everyone else knew, it was only the food stuffs that were in danger of turning up dead body parts—and stared out at the quiet stretch of road running past her house. She’d lived in this town all her life and had never once considered moving.

“I wonder,” she said, “if it’s the same way in the next town over.”

“Oh,” said Mrs. Rutledge, “I heard Garland Weaver tried getting a plate of eggs in a diner just east of here and had the same problem. Found one of her ears, I think.”

“What did I tell you?” Eudora asked. “Pettiness.”

Garland Weaver hadn’t eaten a full meal in three days by the time he decided to try someplace out of town for his breakfast. His stomach gurgled and chugged inside him, paining him something fierce for his neglect. His stomach didn’t know why he hadn’t been feeding it properly and didn’t care either. 

He’d found the first body part about a week after Abigail Guerra died, a pinky toe mixed into his bowl of gumbo that he almost swallowed before realizing his mistake. He spat it out onto the dinner table, much to his wife’s dismay. The toe was small and would have even been cute under other circumstances, but as it was, the sight of it took away his appetite for any more gumbo that evening. 

The diner he’d chosen for his experiment stood about a mile outside the town limits, property of the town that bordered his and a place that acted as a kind of intermediary between the two. There, people from both towns met and communed over a host of breakfast foods and the occasional sandwich while grease sizzled and popped visibly in the galley style kitchen behind the counter. 

On this day, only one other table was occupied when Garland trudged inside, his stomach growling ever louder at the smell of hot food. Overhead, the fluorescent lights fizzed and popped, one blinking frenetically in the corner of the ceiling. He found himself seated beneath this light, the hostess stalking off before he could protest. With a huff, he hunched over the laminated menu, scanning it despite already knowing what he wanted. He liked the routine of coming someplace like this, being seated, looking at the food being purveyed and the accompanying pictures that showed the meals in all their grease-shined glory. 

Garland looked up at the sound of the diner door opening and spotted a young woman with a baby on her hip entering. She barely spared him a glance, her dark eyes roaming over the vinyl seats as if he were merely part of the diner’s landscape. A hot anger fluttered beneath his rib cage, a bird trapped, beating its useless wings. 

The girl—woman—sat down in a booth on the other side of the diner after situating the baby in a crummy highchair, the plastic legs peeling and flaking black onto the tiled floor. She dropped a kiss on the top of the baby’s head, simple as a thought, and sat down with her menu. 

“Coffee?” The waitress stood with hip cocked to one side, a coffee pot in her hand, staring down at Garland. At some point she must have placed a coffee cup in front of him because there it sat, but he hadn’t noticed. 

He nodded, and she poured the coffee, dark and steaming, in the cup. 

“That girl,” he said, pointing not indelicately at the woman with the baby. “She come here a lot?”

The waitress glanced over her shoulder for barely long enough for her to have registered the other patron’s presence. “I just work here, hon,” she said. She took his order—two eggs, scrambled and a side of pork sausage—and sauntered back behind the long counter. Garland watched her rump judder from side to side as she left, but he felt nothing, not even a twinge.

The problem had started right when he and his wife had decided to try for a baby of their own, having seen plenty of nieces and nephews pass through their house during the holidays and family reunions. They’d wanted more life in their house, to fill it with the sound of laughter and running feet and clapping hands. As it was now, the house sat silent as a broken jaw, empty but for him and her. They’d started trying about a year ago, enthusiastically at first. But then, when his wife didn’t conceive after the third or fourth attempt, their efforts slowed and then stopped altogether. Now, Garland could hardly raise the flag, so to speak, on his own. It was this, almost more than the lack of a child, that caused him such shame that he was like to choke on it if he ever tried to talk about it. Which was why it was so terribly quiet in the house lately. 

Then that Guerra girl had come to town. With her young, lithe body and her dark, almond-shaped eyes, the picture of perfection. Garland still remembered the way she moved through the town, easy and confident as if she’d lived there her whole life, as if she truly belonged. Sure, her confidence and her beauty had aggravated Garland in his impotence, but it wasn’t until he heard the rumor a month or so after her arrival that he was moved to actual anger. 

Out in the woods surrounding the town, there lived an old healer woman who was known to possess cures and methods for healing even the most egregious illnesses. Garland had always pictured her house as being full of little bottles and jars and smelling of herbs and the woods themselves, since the woman was supposed to have lived so closely with nature. She was also said to have a cure for unwanted pregnancies, and it was rumored that Abigail Guerra had gone to her for just such a cure not long after arriving in town. Who she’d been cavorting around with was anyone’s guess, but it didn’t matter so much who had gotten her pregnant as it did that she went so quickly to that witch in the woods. 

Across the diner, the baby slapped his hands on the highchair’s tray, laughing a high-pitched, baby laugh that set Garland’s teeth on edge. He glared at the young mother. It was bad enough that his stomach was hurting. 

He hadn’t thought things would go as far as they did with the Guerra girl. When Amos had approached him privately about her and what “needed to be done” about the way she was affecting the town, Garland had thought they’d give her a scare was all, maybe tell her to pick up her things and move somewhere else. He would tell anyone who’d listen that he hadn’t thought they were going to kill her.

That night, after they’d done it, Garland was one of the men who helped carry her body out into the woods and bury it. He’d held her feet and stared down at her belly, which he’d once imagined growing swollen with a child but was now as flat as a Bible. In the moment, his anger had felt justified, righteous even. What kind of a God would deprive him and his wife of a child when they wanted one so badly and then give one to someone who would throw it away without a thought? Surely, God had placed him in the Guerra girl’s path as some sort of holy retribution. At least, that was what he told himself when the hauntings started, and whenever his stomach growled its distress. 

The waitress returned to his booth, holding his plate of food aloft as she maneuvered her way from behind the counter. She set it down without even glancing at him or the plate and headed toward the mother and her child, presumably to take their orders. 

For a long minute, Garland Weaver did not look at his plate. He stared at the young mother and the baby and the waitress and the car passing the diner outside. And he prayed. He prayed that when he looked down, he would not find another piece of Abigail Guerra staring up at him, taunting him with the evidence of what they had done to her that night in the woods, that added cruelty that had been heaped on top of her already dead body. That hadn’t been his idea. Why should he be the one being punished?

But when he looked down, he let out a low, pained moan. There, where his side of sausage should have been, was a pair of Abigail Guerra’s fingers (not, in fact, one of her ears, as Mrs. Rutledge had been led to believe). The nail polish on the tips of those gray, mottled digits danced under the fretful fluorescent light from above. They were each severed at the first knuckle, where they ought to have met the rest of the hand, and the cuts were ragged and uneven, threads of skin lying limp and stringy against the plate. He thought he saw the wink of a finger bone amidst the red of the shredded muscle. 

Garland shoved the plate across the table and bolted from his seat, breaking for the door without stopping when the waitress called to him. He blew past the mother and her child, almost running into the highchair. But he skidded around it and was out the door without incident. He got in his car and kept driving away from his town, thinking that perhaps, if he just went far enough, he’d be safe.

Odessa Long found the tooth on her second bite. It seemed to be growing from the ear of corn itself, the end meant for chewing and grinding food facing her, so she knew it didn’t belong to her. She almost wished it had come from her, that she had broken off a tooth mid-bite and would now wander the streets with a gapped smile until she could afford a replacement. But no, it most certainly belonged to Abigail Guerra, as had the other assorted body parts Odessa had been finding in her food for the past few days. 

She flung the ear into the open trash bin, a cry of frustration and horror caught in her throat along with the first mouthful of corn. How was she to live if she could not go one meal without wanting to empty herself entirely of whatever she had eaten? Of course, she imagined this was the point of the curse, and she had half a mind to storm out into those woods and tell that witch to take it back this instant. It wasn’t fair that the whole town ought to suffer for what was, in truth, the fault of only a few and, really, was the fault of one in particular. 

Amos Turner had been in rare form that night. When he knocked on Odessa’s door and demanded that she and Tom join the ranks of men and women gathered behind him, she’d had no choice but to go, pulling her husband along behind her. Together, they melted into the crowd of angry townspeople, some holding shovels and others carrying lengths of rope looped around their shoulders. 

“What are you planning to do, Amos?” she’d asked, fear and excitement comingling in her belly the same as it had the night she gave her virginity to Tom. “She’s just a girl.”

“And the Devil was just a snake,” Amos said, not looking at her. His eyes were fixed straight ahead and did not waver as they made their way to Abigail Guerra’s home. 

She answered the door in nothing but her nightgown. Odessa remembered noticing her bare feet on the threshold and thinking that she ought to at least be wearing some socks with the weather getting cold as it was. Abigail Guerra stood in the doorway, looking for all the world like a child just woken from sleep, even going so far as to let out a yawn. 

Before she could say a word, Amos and another man grabbed her by her arms and dragged her out of the house. She started shouting, but someone hit her hard over the head and she went quiet, letting herself be ferried to the center of town, where stood a fountain flowing with water clear as gin. 

Amos stood back then, a pastor before his pulpit, and directed the men in the crowd. They backed Abigail Guerra up to the edge of the fountain and then bent her backward until her head disappeared beneath the water. Odessa remembered the way she kicked, her bare feet flying in the air until someone grabbed them and held them. She remembered the shuddering, gasping breaths she took whenever she managed to rise from the water. Which, in the end, was not enough. 

Odessa wouldn’t say that she had harbored any particularly ill will toward the Guerra girl, only that she disapproved of the way she spoke with so many young men so freely, her eyes alight and dancing with possibility. They all saw it, not just Odessa. But it needled her to see the girl go so gamely from one man to the next, when all her life, Odessa had been committed body and soul to Tom, whom she loved in that placid sort of way that anyone who has watched their youth slip away under the gaze of another can love that same person. She had sat by his side for many years now, since they were sixteen and their parents first intimated that the two should be destined to wed, and she had watched as other men, men she silently lusted after, paid her barely a passing glance.

Then, for this girl, about whom no one knew a thing apart from her name and that she came from the south, to glide onto the scene and steal the attention of so many of the available young men. Hate grew like a tumor in Odessa’s belly, turning hard and cancerous while she watched Abigail Guerra flaunt her looks and her exotic charms. And rumor had it that she’d even attracted the attention of Amos Turner, the preacher’s grown son, and he never paid the women of the town any mind. 

Odessa thought that the rumors must have been true too, the way he looked that night. He’d looked possessed, as if some unholy light had come up from the ground and sunk into him like wine into a tablecloth. His eyes had stayed fixed on the Guerra girl the entire time they had her in the fountain, and after it was done, he became even more frantic, hollering that they had to take her to the woods to bury her before the Devil brought her back to life. Odessa remembered thinking that it was odd, the way he was acting, desperate even, as if there was something in the girl’s dead body that he feared getting out if he didn’t act quick enough. 

Odessa stood over the kitchen sink, staring into the basin of soapy water and wondering what it had been like for the Guerra girl with her head stuck under the waves. Her stomach growled. She placed a hand over her belly and frowned. There would be no corn with tonight’s dinner then. If that made any difference at all, in the grand scheme of things.

Efren Peterson stood over the kitchen counter, filling the sausage casings. He hoped that, by making the food himself, he might somehow subvert Abigail Guerra’s curse, which had kept him from eating properly for days now. Efren Peterson was not one to forgo a meal either, or any indulgence as it were. He relished in sweet meats and salty breads and in long naps during the middle of the day. Comfort and contentedness were feelings with which he was closely familiar, but the inverse of those feelings left him twitchy and irritable. 

The Guerra girl had made him feel similarly when she was still alive too. Her laugh was too loud, too ever-present when it broke from her cherry-red lips. And she was always laughing at something it seemed, regardless of the day. Her laughter filled every corner of the town. Every crack in the sidewalk and hole in the wall seemed to burst with the peals of her laughter until there was nowhere Efren could go where he would not hear that high, warbling sound. 

The night they carried her body out into the woods, he remembered how quiet everything was. After she was surely dead, everyone went silent in the way a room goes silent in anticipation of a speech. But there would be no speech from Abigail Guerra. There would be no sound from her ever again. 

They carried her deep into the woods, until Amos Turner told them to stop, that here would be far enough from the town that her spirit could not easily return. Eudora Crosby and Phyllis Rutledge had said that it wouldn’t matter so much where they buried her if they killed her in town. That her spirit would linger where it first departed. Efren now figured they probably should have listened to the old women after all. But they hadn’t. Instead, they laid her body down in the dirt and started digging a hole deep enough for her. 

Only after they had dug about three feet deep, Amos stopped them.

“We have to cut it up,” he’d said as plain as anything. “That way there’s no chance of her coming back.”

At the time, the men exchanged glances that spoke to their doubts. Killing a girl was one thing but to chop up her body and scatter it like dirt on a fire? It seemed wrong in some way far worse than the actual killing had, and Efren hesitated to follow Turner’s orders. What if, by defiling the body in this way, they somehow brought God’s retribution down on them? But Amos was quick to say that it was God’s will that they should dismember the body so that the devil could not use it for his own vile purposes. They had to do this, or else they risked some demon coming to inhabit her body and wreak vengeance on the whole town. 

Efren thought of his little girl, Darcy, back at home, asleep in her bed. He hoisted the axe he’d brought from home onto his shoulder and went to work. 

Efren twisted off another link of sausage, letting it plop onto the counter with the rest of them, and stared out through the kitchen window. Darcy was out in the yard, playing with her dolls in the grass. Thankfully, she seemed to have been spared by the curse, as she never gave evidence of having seen the things that Efren and her mother had seen in their meals. He sent silent prayers of thanks up to God for that and entreated Him that He might see fit to pardon Efren as well, as long as he handled the food himself for the rest of his natural life. He could make do with those circumstances, if that was what it took to fill his belly again. 

He turned the handle on the meat grinder and watched the meat come out the other end. 

By the time they finished with the girl’s body, the men were sweating in the cold air, and their sleeves and pant legs were dark with blood. It shocked Efren how much blood could come out of such a little thing as the Guerra girl. The blood kept pouring from her as from a busted water pump, and it soaked the ground around her until it appeared as if it had rained suddenly and ferociously in just that spot. Still, no one dared complain while Amos was in earshot. They simply set to digging more holes, all of them strewn about the woods every few feet. 

When they had finally buried all the pieces of Abigail Guerra, Efren was exhausted and nearly falling over where he stood. But Amos seemed satisfied, so Efren kept his doubts and his fears to himself. The work was done, and there was no point in belaboring it. 

“Now if she comes back,” Amos said, “she’ll have to do it one piece at a time.”

Efren heaved out a sigh as he fed the last of the meat through the grinder and into the sausage casing in his hand. He twisted off the end and turned to the sink, sticking his hands under the hot water until the smell of the meat left his skin. The heat nearly scalded him, but he kept his hands under the water for a few seconds longer, letting the burn spread up to his wrists. When he at last removed his hands, they were bright red and stinging, but he barely blinked, feeling that anxiety he’d become so used to rise in his throat again. 

He turned back around slowly, keeping his eyes open in case it did anything to keep things as they ought to be. But curses do not abide by silly superstition and wishes. They simply work or do not work. In the case of Abigail Guerra’s curse, it worked. Where the coil of sausage links once was, sat instead a loop of mottled, gray intestines. They lay in a heap on the counter, their outsides dull but still recognizable as the chain of tissue and meat that winds through everyone. Efren didn’t smell anything coming off of them, but it was the sight of them that made his stomach turn over on itself. 

He whirled around and emptied himself into the sink, clutching the edge of the counter until the shaking subsided. When he looked back, the intestines still sat there, but beyond them, through the window, he could see Darcy still at play, oblivious and content. 

Amos Turner could not have known that this would happen. Though had he known, he might have still gone through with the murder of Abigail Guerra. Not that he had laid an ill-intentioned hand on her all night, but he had certainly directed the act as a preacher directs his flock to the pews. His father had taught him well in the art of guiding others along the righteous path, and Amos was certain that his father would have been proud of him, if only he could have seen the way he handled his slavering, witless congregation.

His father had died years ago, but Amos was still known around town as the preacher’s son, even though a new preacher had been installed not long after Amos’s father had passed from this life to the next. This new preacher had no wife and no children, and thus Amos maintained his customary role as the son of one who had once been the most well-respected man in the entire town. This role came with a certain amount of clout and power to which Amos had become accustomed, and Amos enjoyed these benefits as often as he was able. Men were like to do him favors, and women flattered him wherever he turned, and all this was his birthright and seemed unlikely ever to stop. 

Until Abigail Guerra.

Amos sat at his kitchen table, the house dark but for a few candles on the table. In the kitchen, one of the young boys of the town was fixing his supper: a meatloaf run through with rivers of ketchup and pocked with breadcrumbs and mashed potatoes smothered in a gravy. It was his hope that, since the children of the town seemed to be the only ones spared from the curse, perhaps having the boy prepare the meal would in some way circumvent the town’s affliction. If he was wrong, then it would be another day before he was able to work up the courage to try and eat something, and he had already gone three days without a full meal. Now, he trembled and shook with hunger, though he did everything in his power to hide these symptoms from the rest of the town, should they see and think him weak. 

“Sloth is a sin, boy,” Amos said. He touched his fork where it lay beside his plate, adjusting it so that it sat straight and flush with the knife beside it. 

“I’m sorry, sir,” the boy said, a quaver in his voice. “It’ll be ready in a few minutes, I think.”

He had wanted the Guerra girl from the moment he first saw her on the street, walking home from the only bookshop in town, her arms loaded with hardback books thick as bricks. Her straight, black hair swung against the middle of her back as she walked, and he felt the urge to reach out and pull it, to yank her head back and expose the long, brown curve of her neck. But he restrained himself, hurrying home where he punished himself into the night for his treacherous thoughts, the ones that fed his painful tumescence, which he maintained even as he flogged himself. It was only when he finished that he came to his realization: his lust was not his fault but that of the Guerra girl, for her vanity and cocksureness was obviously the greater sin.

The next day, he followed her into her backyard, which was smaller than his but already full of flowers she had planted upon her arrival in town, whereas he knew his own to be sparse and barren, as that was how his father had kept it while he was alive. The yard was fragrant with the scent of the flowers, and their perfume clouded his mind, until he could hardly think straight. 

When she turned and saw him standing at her open gate, she did not cry out in alarm or run into the house as he had half-expected she would. Instead, she merely looked at him with her dark eyes and her lips turned up in a smile that mocked him flat-out. That smile burned inside him, and he felt hatred and fear mix together in his belly, for he did not know what she meant by that smile, and the uncertainty aroused him. 

He approached her, saying something he could not now recall about how she ought to be more vigilant when going about her daily errands, or someone who meant her harm might catch her out. The whole time he spoke, she only watched him, her expression never wavering from that impassable mien that did as much to cloud his judgment as did the flowers in her garden. Only when he raised a hand to touch her hair did she move, backing away from him a few paces. She dropped her eyes and told him she was sorry, but he must have gotten the wrong impression. She did not desire him in the same manner. 

In the moment, he was so stunned that he could not think of anything to say, only fled like a struck schoolboy back to his home, where he sat up all night, thinking of the Guerra girl’s face and that smile that he could not discern the meaning of. 

It was only when he later heard the rumor that she had gone to the witch in the woods for a cure for pregnancy that his rage caught up with him. The thought that she had rejected him but favored another man with her attention boiled inside him until he could do nothing but sit and think on the unfairness of it. It was during one of those long, sleepless nights that he was overcome with the notion that she ought to be soundly punished for her misdeeds. The question of how was never truly a question for him—only how to convince the rest of the town to follow his lead, which, as it turned out, was also hardly a question. It seemed that just about everyone had a grievance with the Guerra girl’s presence. 

But when Efren Peterson took his axe to the girl’s shoulder, preparing to do the job Amos had set out for him and a handful of the other men, Efren paused. He dropped the axe in the dirt and stood brusquely to his feet. When Amos asked him what was wrong, Efren turned to him with his face all pale and his mouth trembling like a girl’s and said, “She’s still alive.”

Sure enough, he was correct. The Guerra girl lay only mostly dead on the ground and had whimpered and moaned when Efren’s axe first cut into her flesh. Blood trickled down her arm and dripped onto the earth beneath it, and Amos stood by staring down at her. He watched as her eyelids fluttered and then lifted slowly, curtains rising away from a pair of windows. 

She mumbled something that sounded like a plea for help, but Amos couldn’t be certain. And he was sure no one else could be certain either, riled as they were from the mere fact of the girl’s presence there on the ground.

“Go to it then,” he said. He knew he wore an expression that brooked no defiance and waited patiently while the men gathered their courage and knelt around the girl’s body again. This time, even when she began to scream, they did not pause in their work.

When they had finished, he stood apart from the rest of them, looking out at the small plots of disturbed earth where they’d buried the pieces of Abigail Guerra. It was only as he swept his eyes across it all that he noticed a light in the distance. A cold wind blew through him, slicing through to the marrow of his bones. Though he had never been there himself, he knew the light could belong to only one house, the only house in these woods. The witch had been roused by the screaming no doubt, and she had probably watched the entire thing. He left quickly then, the rest of his impromptu congregation following close behind, and tried not to think of what this might mean. 

The boy pulled the meatloaf from the oven, heaping mounds of mashed potatoes alongside it, and ferried it over to Amos at the table. The smell of cooked meat was strong in the house, filling Amos’s nostrils and causing his stomach to growl in anticipation. It seemed, in that moment, that he had been right in his hypothesis. 

Only after the boy had set down the dish and shut the front door behind him, did Amos dare to look down at the meal. When he did, bile rose hot and acidic in his throat, and it took all of his strength not to fling himself away from the table. Instead, he gripped the edge of the table and forced himself to look down at the vision that lay before him.

There, nestled in the middle of the meatloaf, was what he assumed to be Abigail Guerra’s sex, gray and decomposed as it was. Though he had never seen this part of her, he could only assume it was hers, as every other part he’d discovered had been. This portion, however, seemed more alive than any other piece of her he’d yet seen. For there, crawling between her folds, were maggots, which wriggled and squirmed in and out of that dark passage that was only ever meant to sire a procession of slick-headed children. Dark hairs curled up from the skin, kinked and tight as they were. 

Amos Turner pushed his plate away and rose from his seat. Weak with hunger, he partially collapsed against the edge of the table, barely able to hold himself upright. The candles on the table burned on, even as he wandered the house, his moans hidden only by the sound of the wind blowing outside. 

Eudora Crosby and Mrs. Rutledge sat staring at the plate of devilled eggs laid between them. Neither had the appetite for them anymore, not after they uncovered them and saw that, sat between two of the egg halves, was an eyeball with the dark iris of none other than Abigail Guerra. Instead, they could only look at the plate, their bellies cramping at the smell of the mustardy egg yolks. 

“Perhaps if we ate around it,” Mrs. Rutledge said, though she made no move to touch any of the eggs. 

“Be my guest, if you want to risk it,” said Eudora. The thought was that, even if they tried to eat one of the actual eggs, the curse might transform it mid-bite, and neither of the old women wanted to chance biting into any piece of that girl, regardless of how hungry they were. 

“We can’t go on like this forever,” Mrs. Rutledge said, a low moan in her voice. 

“I don’t think we’re meant to,” said Eudora. She looked out at the street. Her eyes trailed down the path until they came to a stop on the house that had once belonged to Abigail Guerra. Even from here, she could see a sliver of the backyard, and there, bursting with life even after so many days without rain, were the flowers Abigail Guerra had planted. 

Sebastian Murdoch is a writer who was born in Montgomery, Alabama and now lives in Jackson, Mississippi. They received their MFA from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts and have been published multiple times in the Johannesburg Review of Books. They are represented by Sharon Pelletier at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret in New York, New York. 

Twitter: @SEMurdoch
Instagram: @smurdoch94

photo by khloe arledge and Franco Antonio Giovanella (via unsplash)