Mosefund 2 (dead bodies in deadly bogs), short story, 2022

When I was a kid I almost died. I got a paper cut.
When I was a kid I almost died. The cut was on my pointer finger on my right arm.

When I was a kid I almost died.
The skin covering the root of my nail grew red. Dark red and purple.
The normally flat nail-bed of my finger growing bigger than any of my other ones. It didn’t hurt, I only noticed when I held it up in front of my eyes, saw the way it bulged up, the way a deep red mass was pressing against the root of my nail begging the thin skin to break. All my other fingers lying flat and relaxed next to it.

I would show people, look this finger is bigger than the rest and when you press down on it, it’s like a balloon, like a trampoline, It goes right back out again.

When I was a kid I almost died
The feeling in my arm when my mom grabbed it and twisted it, is still stuck in it. I still feel it.
I was just showing her my big bloated finger and out of nowhere,
Grab, Twist, Pull.
She had seen the red line I overlooked. Reaching from my finger above my elbow but far below my armpit.

When I was a kid I almost died.
The drive to Odense from Langeland is always a long one. Two, three bridges, and a lot of flat land before you even get to Fyn. It seems even longer at night, with a panicking mother in the front seat. She’d called my grandmother, an old nurse, before we left, I didn’t hear what they were talking about, but it clearly hadn’t calmed my mother down.

When I was a kid I almost died.
I remember sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office feeling embarrassed. Out of place. It was late at night. Lægevagten. 24/7. Everyone else there were clearly very sick. Children crying with fever, old faces covered in bruises from falls, one boy, about my age, running with his mother through the room had blood pouring from his mouth, and I had a red line running up my arm

When I was a kid I almost died.
I remember the doctor pulling me, lifting me up, by my armpits, and asking if one felt worse than the other. And when I said yes, the right one hurts like fucking shit, he told me about the red line. It was my blood showing me it had been poisoned. - A warning red sign - . Above my elbow below my armpit. He looked me in the eye, very seriously and informed ten-year-old me that if it had had been another 24 hours without treatment, it would have reached my armpit. And from there its 30 min. to the heart. And from the heart it’s everywhere. In all blood, and from all blood to all things. Every organ, every crevice.

If it had reached my heart, and everything else with it, I would have had to go to a hospital. At least a month in aggressive treatment. We were very lucky I didn’t have to. I just remember being pissed I didn’t get a month of school.

Only a couple weeks earlier a friend of mine fell off a tree and broke his arm straight in half. Like a branch.
I’d seen white bones before. - Dead deer skulls in the forest.
I’d seen the greyish-brownish bone of cooked chicken.
I’d even seen the dark brown saintly bones of the skeleton lying in the basement at church.
I’d never seen fresh red bone till it came out of my friend's arm. Still covered in every vein and blood vessel that cushions it so softly inside the body.

Whenever my brain has to come up with a scream. For a dream, a nightmare, when I’m reading a book and a scene calls for it. Whenever my brain has to come up with a scream,  its own sound effect to life, it still sounds suspiciously like the scream of an eight-year-old boy seeing one of his own bones in person. He got a week of off school to recover, and he was never even really in life-threatening danger.

My blood was poisoned and all I got was a daily break from class to be poked with a needle to have my blood tested.  And those horrible injections. At least my mom gave me a piece of chocolate to wash it down with every time.He also had to wear an extensive cast and cage around his arm, while it healed. Which left me to be the hands of our operation.

See for the whole summer before this, our entire two months of break, we had been meticulously searching the bog in the forest behind my house for a dead body. At the very beginning of the break, his mom had taken us to visit Grauballemanden in his new home. We stood there, side by side, looking into his face, his dead eyes, looking at his red hair and stretched-out hands, for hours. We read what we could of the writing on the plaque behind him and determined that this, his existence, had to be proof that every bog has a body.
Every bog must be the final resting place for someone.

And we were going to find our bog's dead body.

So all summer, with our hands and the stolen map hook from the local school, we had been searching the bog. Reaching down as far as we could, grabbing anything in our way. Very Carefully. -     My mom had insisted.
She was afraid we would get stuck in the bog, that we wouldn’t be able to get out and before anyone could find us, we would die. I told her with the confidence and determination of an eight-year-old girl on her way to making the next great big bog discovery in Danish natural history, that if I did end up dying, then I had to insist she let me stay in the bog. So that then when I could no longer make it, I could instead become the next great big bog discovery.
Or at the very least I’d become company for the body already in there.


But then my partner broke his arm and I got a paper cut. Our mission lost a lot of efficiency, but we didn’t stop. He would take the hook in his left arm, pushing it in and out, hoping to hit something harder than mushed up dead plants and moss. And I would lay at the side, reaching in.

As far as I could, imagining the moment my hand would meet another. Thumb meeting thumb, hand grabbing, and with all of my power, feet slipping into the ground, holding me steady, I would pull out the next great big bog body. Or it would grab back, pull me in.

Into dead plants and water, through layers, mushed under leaves, moss, sticks, moss, under years, under time, forever sleeping.
Under moss.

The dark only occasionally broken by a map hook hitting the top layer repeatedly, combing through in search for us. And in many years, preserved dead bodies pulled out and put on display under harsh lights for other kids to look at. Stare in the eyes. History discovered in a bog in my backyard. Or the body would open the portal. Let the bog open up and expand. Have me crawling down, scraping through the layers of dead plants that grow tighter and tighter the longer down we get, until finally, they give way. To water and then we swim, further and further, carried on the shoulders of Ægir’s daughters towards the light in the distance, until it opens up, no more water, no more air, just the gods, whichever ones they would be.

Into the world of the gods and a new life.

A world only occasionally broken by the sound of the hook-grabbing
every stick,
every leaf,
every stone,
opening up the surface to the sun in an old world.

When I was a kid I almost died
I almost spent my time traveling through old godly portals with sacrificial remains and leftover bones


Looking back putting an open wound, even one as small as a paper cut, into a wet piece of dirt full of everything the living part of the forest had discarded, lost,  everything dead and done with,  probably wasn’t a great idea, and might - potentially - have played a role in me getting that infection, that led to the blood poisoning. A medieval disease for a medieval place.
For gods.

When I was a kid I almost died.
or not at all really.
But I still check my body for red lines crawling up arms or legs. I still hear the screams of an eight-year-old boy falling out of trees and seeing red bone. And I still dream of sleeping on moss, of being suspended eternally in dead plants and water.
Of the company of dead bodies in deadly bogs.