The bone lay in the middle of the driving lane between rows D and E of the parking lot. Kat and I slowed down. The cheesecake in my stomach turned into a lump. I swallowed to keep it down. It had been really good cheesecake. I wanted to keep my memory of it that way.
I walked up to it. Kat followed me, nice and slow. I hesitated to pick it up. Was there evidence? The bone lay by itself. No body, no trail, no dried pool of coppery-smelling sticky red life surrounding it on the asphalt. “It’s a femur. The largest bone in the human body.”
The October gray darkened. Did another cloud cover the sun? Kat stood next to me. I could see her feet move as she twisted to look around. “We should get out of here,” Kat said.
It didn’t have a fleck of muscle or connective tissue on it. Parts of it looked chipped away, or a gnawed at. The surface didn’t look smooth. I imagined I saw curvature in the chipping. The shape of a mouth.
“How did it get here?” I asked. “Where’s the rest?”
“That’s what bothers me. Come on. Let’s split.”
“Do zombies clean up after themselves?”
“There’s no such thing as zombies. You’re trying to scare me.”
I brushed my hands off as I stood up, even though I hadn’t touched it. I dug under my fingernails. I felt like I had ants crawling over my body and blood under my nails. “So what’s this? Someone dropped a femur while carrying a whole body’s worth of bones by hand over to the Cheesecake Factory?”
Kat thrust her hands deep into her pockets. “Look, I don’t know. They’re both ridiculous. But the one thing that’s more ridiculous is you and me standing here right next to this thing waiting for whoever left it to come back.”
“Don’t you want to know?”
“Know? Sure. Meet them? Why don’t I knock you in the head with that thing and see if it gives you any sense?”
“All right, fine. I’ll call the cops. Someone lost a bone. Maybe a med student.” I took out my phone and punched in the numbers. I stayed turned toward Kat to be polite, but I kept one eye on the bone at the same time. It felt like having a dead body behind me. The blood drained out of my face. I asked Kat, “Can you do me a favor? Dial 911.”
“I’m not getting through.”
Kat took out her phone. “What? No signal?” She dialed. Then she looked at me. We stood there staring each other other, listening to the same busy signal.
This prompt came from the book 642 Things to Write About by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.