Skeletor had long wanted a body: to cover him, shield him, make him whole. He was only a skeleton. He was jealous of the other skeletons who had bodies. Sometimes, he would put clothes on and stuff them with pillows or crumpled up newspaper and stare in the mirror. He always put an extra pillow or something in his stomach area because he didn’t know what it was like to be hungry. He dreamed that one day he would have a body with a big belly. He couldn’t wait to be hungry.
His name, tk421, had been given to him by the courts. There was also tk422, tk423, bk102, and so on. All names had two letters followed by three numbers. It was more or less a tracking system the courts had developed. But the skeletons usually hated their names and would come up with their own. His given name, tk421, was funny to Skeletor because of the scene in Star Wars using that name. He liked Star Wars. He liked fantasy movies and stories. Anything that would take his mind off his current world. Skeletor named himself after He-Man & the Masters of the Universe, a cartoon. He always rooted for He-Man but was sympathetic to Skeletor, and being a skeleton, the name made sense. He imagined it would only be a short time before he got a body and then he would get a new name that did not consist of two letters and three numbers.
The rules and regulations to get a body were simple: fill out the forms properly, keep your bones clean, don’t break your bones, and the most important rule — do not go outside during daylight hours. He followed these rules religiously but about a year ago, he was mistaken to have taken part in a protest where many skeletons marched the streets — during the day! Skeletor couldn’t believe so many skeletons would do this. He was so afraid to break the daylight law that he would wait one hour after official daylight time to go outside. But a skeleton, with a body, had said he was in the protest. Skeletons, after all, do look alike, and skeletons, unlike skeletons with a body, are guilty until proven innocent. The skeletons that openly admitted to taking part in the protest were banished to Skeleton Island. Once there, the odds of getting a body were about one in a million. Those who were accused like Skeletor, but denied it, were in limbo with the courts. There was no trial for them; they were given a strike on their record. Two strikes and it’s Skeleton Island. Skeletons with no strikes were first in line for bodies.
Bodies, these days, were produced ever so slowly, because of resources, or so they were told. There were conspiracy theories, mainly held by the skeleton population. One theory, probably the most believed, was that they slowed down body production because they were experimenting with bodies in order to make them stronger, more durable, and last longer. Skeletor paid no mind though. He just wanted a body and didn’t care what quality.
He went to the bd (Body Department) to check, yet again, to see if he had been given a body. He only went once a week. Some skeletons went everyday but Skeletor didn’t want to upset the wrong clerk at the bd. He had heard of a skeleton that was banished to Skeleton Island for checking too much. He didn’t want to risk that. The clerks always called the skeletons “bone.” It was a running joke with the clerks. They also cracked jokes to the skeletons, like “make no bones about it, no body for you,” and other ridiculous comments. But the skeletons were at their mercy. The clerks had bodies.
“Next bone,” the clerk yelled. Skeletor walked up to the window.
The clerk said, “Hi Bone.”
“Hello, I’m tk421,” Skeletor said.
“Teee…Kayyy…nope. Next bone,” the clerk said with a smirk. Skeletor walked away, sad, yet again. What could be the problem, he thought. Normally, skeletons with one strike would get a body after about six months. It had been at least a year since the protest incident. He decided to go see his friend, tk997, also known as Ribeye.
Ribeye was a mentor to the skeletons. He had been around for many years. He shared everything about his life and helped any skeleton he could. He was like an open book, but no one really knew the whole story as to why he never got a body. This, Ribeye, would
Skeletor knocked. “Come in,” Ribeye said from his sculpting chair. He was adding water to his clay for a new piece.
“Hi Ribeye,” Skeletor said and walked over to the long picnic table which was covered in books and sat down. He felt at ease; he always did at Ribeye’s house. The walls were lined with bookshelves that were filled mostly with books but also with sculptures. Ribeye had become a very talented artist over the years. He mostly created sculptures of planets with different terrains. The rest of his house was similar to other skeleton houses: there was the main room, a
small sleeping quarters, and a shower. There was no kitchen or bathroom because skeletons didn’t eat or drink. Ribeye spent his time sculpting and reading.
He never bothered to check with the BD and from what Skeletor could tell, he was content.
“Let me guess, you’re coming from the BD,” Ribeye said. He noticed Skeletor’s bone posture.
“You guessed right. I don’t know what to do anymore. If I don’t get a body soon, I may take the incinerator option. This is terrible. I just want to be hungry and thirsty. To taste. How can I remain a skeleton? Who wants to be a skeleton!?” Skeletor remembered just then about Ribeye’s decision. “I mean, I’m sorry. I hope I didn’t offend you.”
“Relax, Skeletor. I’ve made my decision to remain a skeleton and I’m happy with it. I have my books and my sculpting. Have you developed any hobbies besides dressing up like you have a body?”
“Well, uhhh, not really,” Skeletor said; he was embarrassed. How did Ribeye know he still dressed himself up?
“Look, we’ve all dressed up. Even me. It’s only natural. But you should start thinking about what would make you happy, as you are now, a skeleton.”
“But I want to eat. I want to drink. I want to feel.” Skeletor felt defeated.
“Don’t you feel now? You feel sad, right? Well, you can feel happy too,” Ribeye said.
“I suppose so,” Skeletor said and slumped at the table. “Well, I’m going home before daylight begins.Thank you for your advice.”
“Remember, there’s no guarantee a body will make you happy. You’ve seen them, not all of them are happy. Even the ones with large bellies. Think about that.”
Skeletor walked home, slow and sad. Days and weeks passed. He hadn’t been to the BD since that day he saw Ribeye. He was too depressed to hear another rejection. He even stopped dressing up. But he kept his bones clean, hoping. After about two months he couldn’t take it anymore. He thought, one more check at the BD and if no luck, he would start his life, as he is, a skeleton.
“Next bone,” the clerk said with an abnormally big smile. He remembered this bone.
“Hi, I’m TK421,” Skeletor said, shaking.
“I know,” the clerk said.
Written by: Andrew Park
Andrew Park grew up near Sacramento and earned a Business degree at Chico State before moving to San Francisco. He has always written in his spare time as a hobby. In the Fall of 2019, he took a creative writing class at the City College of San Francisco for fun.
Art title: Yayoi Kusama
Art by: Ana Lazaro
Ana Lazaro is a San Francisco based artist. She considers herself a world citizen and has, since childhood, had a passion for capturing moods and emotions through her portraiture. Ana’s current work is inspired by her desire to celebrate empowered women making a difference across the globe.