The wardrobe door was jammed. Gripping the handle more firmly and bracing the soles of her slippered toes against the wooden base, she tugged. The heady scent of cedar wafted out, tailing a tattered cobweb, lifting it into the air in a circle, then dissipating—to leave it parachuting crookedly to the floor.
Unconsciously, she wiped her
face, as if to remove the invisible residue, and she peered inside.
Woodlice carcasses lay along the bottom—like mica in the rain, silvery
and grey. She stood motionless, momentarily dazzled, but then
shuddered. Was it narcissism that caused this sudden surge of disdain
for these brittle, faceless insects?-- scurrying about in dark places;
burrowing into dead wood with an industry that could feed an empire.
They would just as readily nibble at the rotting limbs of a dying tree
as they would her aunt’s coffin, freshly interred, ignorant of any
associations. Born of death and sustained by it. Inhabitants of an
autumn world of fading life; dim-sighted oracles whose very presence
announce the approach of a life’s winter. A prophetic industry, leaving
but a trail of fine sawdust in their wake—caked along the joints of the
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