short story

the kumiho’s song

"The bit of bone swung from the grubby twine tied around her neck every time she bent towards a corpse. Round and white from a thousand years of sun, it looked more like a marble, like a gonggi stone that a child could toss into the air and catch on the back of her hand. But it was indeed the top knuckle of Min’s little finger, where she had spelled her heart one morning, lifetimes ago. In the blue haze of dawn, she had chopped it off with a butcher’s knife, just like her mother had, and her mother’s mother before her."

This twist on the Korean kumiho (an immortal nine-tailed fox spirit) folktale was originally published in the 7th issue of Truancy Magazine. Click on the link to read the full story.

Truancy-Mark-4-web-version-smallerThe Kumiho’s Song, January 25, 2020 – “The bit of bone swung from the grubby twine tied around her neck every time she bent towards a corpse. Round and white from a thousand years of sun, it looked more like a marble, like a gonggi stone that a child could toss into the air and catch on the back of her hand. But it was indeed the top knuckle of Min’s little finger, where she had spelled her heart one morning, lifetimes ago. In the blue haze of dawn, she had chopped it off with a butcher’s knife, just like her mother had, and her mother’s mother before her.

Each time Min bent down, the knuckle-bone swung and her mask slipped off her thin face so that she gagged on the thick smoke and the stench of burnt flesh in the summer heat. She longed to rest. Navigating between the bodies was becoming unbearable, with flies already settling and crawling in and out of festering lesions and torn limbs. She tried to work efficiently, sinking her claws into each chest and tying each dripping heart into the ripped folds of her own chima before looting theirs.”

 

(Featured image from Truancy Mag, “Rustic Temple Ritual” by (c) Kirsty Greenwood.)

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