Stone Telling

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by Eliza Victoria

Not satisfied with the sight of bodies placed side by side, they powered up the tractors and started crushing bones beneath the machinery, folding and re-folding until anonymity was achieved. Years later, experts went down there on hands and knees, digging up limbs powdered and scattered like the kitchenware of a lost culture. One of them peered up at the impossibly blue sky and remarked at the wind, What a nice place to fly kites. Somewhere in the four hundred bags they had filled so far was the boy who once ran on this field, burning his fingers with the beauty of ascension. The interns always cried whenever the bags were sieved. In the white glare of the examination rooms, the bones and the pottery shards looked the same.

A mother had already been handed four hollow pieces of her child’s rib cage, and days after the burial, she was seen walking around the clearing, at one point bending down to pick up a pebble. The place was sacred to her. Every piece of the place was sacred to her. During a storm, as she held on to the walls of her house, the wind gave her an idea and now she respected every open ground. Who knew how strong a wind could blow? Who could foresee the extent of a body’s transformation? She put an end to the habit of kicking at loose soil whenever she was angry or pensive. Her face took on the shape and lines of a tourist lost in an unknown land, peering at eyes, searching, searching. This could be my child, she whispered to herself, and held the pebble close to her chest.

Eliza Victoria lives in the Philippines. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in various publications based in her country and elsewhere, most recently in The Pedestal Magazine, The Houston Literary Review, Philippine Speculative Fiction V and Usok. Her work has received prizes in the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature and the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards, two of the most prestigious literary awards in the Philippines. Visit her at, or follow her on Twitter (@HiElizaHere).

Photography: adapted from "Pebbles 2" by Pierangelo Rosati.