Jimbo here — Oh boy, do I have one for ya. From my editors, this quote says it all: Do I think we should publish it? Yes. It’s dark and weird as fuck. I loved it. Unique and unsettling. The writer achieves a lot in such a short piece. You won’t forget reading this piece.’
Thyme Well Spent
Inside of an incubator, my child lay. I poked through the holes to rub her soft curls. Her hair, thin and cottony, the color of earth, wrapped around my fingers gently. When I pulled back, a single thread remained on my finger, and I stood, searching for a way to be rid of it. My hand found a solution by placing it on my tongue. I licked my lips.
She wailed. I smiled.
At 6, she decided to be a tree, enjoying how they could touch the sky. To achieve this, she took a brush and slathered paint to her head. I watched her, giggled with her, and even took to painting with her. Her mother was not very pleased with our artwork.
Her hair was curly and spattered with green, the color of thyme I had told her. Whenever she dashed past me or rushed to give me a hug, I had to suppress myself. Every part of me wanted to run my hands through her curls, feel them twine and retract around my fingers, as I pulled them away from her face and let them snap back into their pristine coils. I frequently had to remove myself, giving a brief “I need some air” before exiting the room and sprinting away, wherever to calm myself, lest my excitement show, and her mother remove me from our lives.
One night, however, after the clocks had struck twelve and I had woken from a nightmare of police finding me with the Thyme, I gave myself to such bliss. Knowing that her mother had started to catch on, I snuck to her room and snipped off a lock of her hair, tucking it into my pocket as a keepsake before I needed to flee. I placed my lips on her forehead, knowing I couldn’t stay in this home, not with her here, not how I felt. As I left, I found myself frozen in the doorway and turned to look at her, basked in moonlight. I took the shears and delicately, snipped off another strand, this time holding it to the light. The moonlight, reflecting off of her emerald locks enraptured me, and before I knew it, I had swallowed the entire strand.
When her mother came to get her in the morning, she found her bald, and me, with a mouthful of thyme.
At 16, she was taken from me. Not through a custody battle, after all I had lost my role as her father ten years prior after her mother discovered me. No, her reckless friends, the fools, drove under the influence, taking my darling Thyme with them. I wasn’t allowed at the funeral; not that that would stop me.
That evening, when the sun had fallen and the sky glimmered with constellations, I found her plot and dug. I wasn’t aware of how frantic my digging came until I was three feet below. I needed to reach her. Needed to see my Thyme, in its, her, final state. I needed to see how her cheeks lost their luster and how her hair was desaturating. I needed her, in my system, needed her to remind me of what I had lost by giving into my gluttony and consuming what was in front of me.
I hit her mahogany coffin. The clunk echoed through the night, a sound only I and the nearby crickets could hear.
I brushed off the dirt, digging wildly with my hands, earth staining my nails as I dragged the leftover soil off of her. I pried her coffin open, revealing her face, once again, illuminated by the moon rising above us. I cackled, seeing her hair, my Thyme, spread out across the coffin in messy streaks, and brought my face to it, inhaling deeply. I held the shovel over my head and plunged it down, separating her locks from her head repeatedly. When the shovel couldn’t separate more, I used my hands, digging wildly into her flesh to separate the follicles from her scalp. When my fingers did not suffice, I used my teeth, biting into her skin and yanking off hearty chunks of meat from her skull, to get as close to the source of her thyme. I ate, tendril upon tendril, like a man possessed.
When I had eaten my fill, I looked to the sky, seeing the red and blue flashing lights illuminating the opening of her grave. The officers approached me, and I threw myself on top of her, not wanting strangers to intrude on our moment. Of course, I was pried away; five officers used their combined strength to remove me from her grave. Wildly I screamed, desiring nothing more but to go back, to pet her hair and taste her thyme as only she possessed. My cries reverberated through the night, eerily reminiscent of the wails that occurred on the day she entered the world.
When I peer into her coffin for the final time, my eyes wild with fury and indescribable pain, I saw her face, smiling back at me.
Italia Fields is a playwright, screenwriter, photographer, and aspiring filmmaker. She has a passion for writing horror and comedy – often combining the two. She is a senior at Coe College double majoring in Creative Writing and Film Studies. She currently resides in Chicago, IL. “Thyme Well Spent” is her first fiction publication.