800

          The mud from Remy’s skin and Hundred the dog’s hair washes off in black goops that Remy finger-paints on the tub’s pink walls. Black water with specks of blue and yellow crystal float on the surface. Remy picks her fingers into the tiny holes of the metal drain jammed with gunk. Hundred leaps from the tub and leaves a wet slide of mud and dark goo extending out the bathroom, down the stairs, and to the front door where the thudding on the door just won’t stop. Remy stays in the tub. Blood hangs from her feet. She sits back and crosses her left foot over her right knee and inspects her left foot. Pressed into her skin are black crystals. Thud thud thud. She picks one out and a black hexagon melts and pours down her leg. Her pale skin is covered in a liquid that is darker than normal blood. She squeezes the black crystal back in. A flash of heat travels from her foot to her head followed by a desire to run. The liquid retracts back inside her. Lifts her. A number is spiraling through her. She closes her eyes and sees Mom’s body being carried to the mine where burned. Downstairs Hundred trades barks for knocks forever. Mom cried at the kitchen table this morning because when you guess how many crystals are inside you, you calculate how many days you have left. Remy doesn’t think about her own internal number. She’s at the opposite end of thought. Here in the pink tub, water draining, the discovery of black crystal is an escalating number rising to 800 widening her veins.

Shane Jones is the author of several books, most recently the novel Daniel Fights a Hurricane (Penguin 2012). He lives in Albany, New York.