Excerpt from All My Sins Remembered
After a while I went inside. I sat in the floor, just looking at the ghostly pillar of marble. I tried doing something else. I could have driven over to Athens and used a model from the University. If I would have asked her, I’m sure Rachael would have modeled. I should have done an abstract. An animal. Or nothing at all. Anything but her. I sat there for a long time, just staring at the marble, until I fell asleep.
I dreamed the same dream that I been dreaming almost every night for at least a month. There was a boy. An Indian, Aborigine, or some kind of prehistoric warrior. I was him, but I wasn’t. I could feel what he could feel, but I saw it all from a distance.
In the shadows of the sacred birch grove, he held held the tiny drum made of fox hide, stretched thin over three sticks he had tied together with vine. While walking through the fields he picked up the leg bone of a long-dead deer. Softly, he laid bone against skin. At first it was only a vibration. But as he struck it harder and harder each time, and with each subsequent meeting of bone and skin, the vibration became a faint thud, forming a pattern, and soon he was beating out a rhythm. It was hypnotic. As he played, he looked around to make sure he was alone. The village Rainmaker would not like this new invention. He would take it and make it his own, or else burn it in the fire.
He lay back on the cool ground and looked up through the trees at the sky. As he continued to beat the drum, he remembered the faint palpitations he had heard inside his lover’s body as they lay together at the edge of the village, hidden in the wild flowers and grain that grew as long as the stone-tipped spears they used to hunt the mammoth. He pressed his head against her chest and listened to the blood as it swooshed through the valves like wind in the trees.
At first he thought the sound was coming from the moon. All his life he had heard from the elders about the song the moon sings when lovers meet in secret. And how sometimes, as punishment for their sins, they are transformed into the shadows they cast as their bodies fuse into one, and vanish, as if a great bird had swooped down in the dark and carried them away.
The sun was disappearing in the west, the day leaving a golden aftermath in the clouds. The forest was dark. He pounded the drum. Louder and louder, the dull thumps echoed through the trees like thunder, as if the spirit of the fox and deer had been awakened from the afterlife. He beat the drum so hard the skin began to tear. He watched the sky. On the last beat, before the skin gave way, he realized that she was not coming back. He put down the bone. His shadow lay in the grass. It was the same shadow he had always cast.