A lone raven takes flight, rising above the sparsely spaced sycamore trees, silently circling overhead. Its broad wingspan cuts the midday air effortlessly, and the casted shadow it leaves behind turns cold.
Drifting, like a kite in the breeze, the raven glides smoothly. Eventually landing on a vacant branch of the sycamore, it peers between the rusty orange and yellowing leaves.
Lifeless clumps of browning grass have lost their will and rustle with the occasional gusts of wind, adding eeriness to this desecrated ground.
The raven is suspicious of the intruders, who interrupted the slim pickings it had found on the sand ridge of this desolate area of the Appalachian Mountains. It carefully watches as a mystery begins to unfold.
The dust begins settling on the dirt switchback trail that winds from the foothills up into the mountains. A reflection from the circular mirror of a vehicle startles the raven, sending it into the skies once again.
The meshing of the reverse gear clunks into place, and the 1908 Model T backs onto the sand ridge that overlooks the Shenandoah Valley.
From a thousand feet above, the raven silently circles overhead. It watches a man wearing overalls open the car door and walk to the trunk as he puts on his brown hat. Removing a shovel, he stands, listening as he glances over the area. His large stature and unusual facial features curiously bring the raven back to the branch of the sycamore tree.
A female passenger wearing a plain flannel dress and smoking a rolled cigarette joins him at the rear of the car. She points to a spot where he should dig. She calmly walks to the trail they had driven on, lifts her dress and squats behind a tree.
The man returns to the car after a short while without the shovel. She joins him, and they pull a dismembered body from the trunk of the Model T. The body is that of a girl in her early teens. The twisting and turning of her body while the two carry her breaks open scabs from her cut and disfigured body. Blood trickles to the sand, marking the gruesome trail. Her blonde hair brushes along the sand, occasionally getting tangled in a twig, leaving small wisps of hair behind.
The two mercilessly carry her to a spot alongside the pre-dug grave. They set her limp, lifeless body on the piled sand. Her dress shows sections of blue fabric that were untouched by the blood that seeped from her.
In silence, the two casually walk back to the car, stopping and pointing to different areas of the ridge. The woman discards her cigarette, and the man reaches in the trunk for a mason jar. Removing the lid of the sealer, he takes a swig of the brew, passing the jar to the woman. She spits on the ground and wipes her mouth on the sleeve of her dress, then takes a gulp of moonshine, then another.
Without hesitation, he reaches into the trunk of the car, retrieving the young girl’s dismembered arms. The woman sits on the edge of the open trunk, rolling a cigarette. She watches as he tosses the body into the grave. The large man slips into the grave, turning the corpse face up and placing the arms next to her. He closes her staring eyes with his bulky finger. Without remorse, he slowly covers the body with the piled sand. He then packs the ground with the large boots he is wearing and sprinkles a dusting of sand over his tracks with the shovel.
From nowhere, a gust of cold air suddenly twists downward from the top of the mountain, sending his cap rolling under a red willow bush. Covering his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt, he waits till the twister passes. The female runs to the car and rolls up the passenger window.
Frustrated by the blowing dust, he rushes to get his hat. He trips, stumbling into a shallow sunken grave. Shaking himself off, he tramples and kicks the exposed bones, breaking them like twigs with his big boot.
The gears grind into the forward position, and the car begins its trek down the mountain road. The raven, disturbed by what it has witnessed, returns to the exposed rib cage it was pecking from on the far side of the ridge.
No words, no prayers, nor markers. Only the tears sent in the form of warm falling rain from the Heavens onto the killing meadow that overlooks the Shenandoah Valley.
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