Without A Trace

Sudden Fiction by Susan Walsh

The house was closed up. No one knew there was anything left inside. Webs had grown over its eyes. Spiders had laid eggs in its mouth.

The woman in the bed watched her ceiling drop bit by bit. The spot of rot was growing. When it rained, the water trickled then ran onto her face and bits of soggy plaster landed in her mouth.

She was mostly naked now. She could feel creatures skitter across her flesh at night. It was like her body had been wrung out and left to dry. There wasn’t much. She was in multiple organ failure, she knew. But why was the brain the last to go?

There was no way to call or answer a phone. There was no one to come. So she listened. The house dying around her. The drips, creaks, cracks, groans. The same noises came from her body. She would never have guessed dying was an audible process. She wanted the dying to happen more quietly. She wanted the dying to happen more quickly. Her lips were dry and cracked. Her body hollow and deserted.

The mice were growing bolder. Winter was coming and they needed warm nests. Her hair, what she had of it, would keep them cozy. She felt the tearing of skin as they scalped her. She could not move her hands to stop them or wipe the blood. She gratefully licked drops of it from her lips.

The rats came at night. They took her toenails one by one. Then the tips of her toes. She waited for what they would take next. She couldn’t stop them. In the end, she told herself, it was a good thing. This body she no longer lived in would go on to feed and house something else.

No one should disappear without a trace.


© 2017 Susan Walsh