“Your bones are made of sugar because you’re just so sweet!” my mother said the first time I was sent home from school. I was seven years old. My wrist had snapped during recess, the jagged bone jutting out of my skin and into the air. It was amber-coloured and slightly sticky and smelled sweet, like solid honey. My mother had to keep pushing the dog away so she couldn’t lick it.
“Don’t cry, love,” she said, wiping tears from my cheeks. “We’ll fix you up in no time.” She sat me at the kitchen table, still cradling my wrist. Then she pulled out a small saucepan and added sugar and water to it. She put the pan on the burner and turned on the heat, stirring the mixture until it began to bubble. I could smell the sugar cooking, a sweet, burning scent that matched too closely with what wafted up from my wrist. It made me hungry and nauseous. After a few minutes, she pulled the pan off the stove and brought it over to me.
“My candy girl,” my mother said lovingly as she forced the fragment of sugared bone back into the skin of my wrist. She whistled as she poured the molten liquid into the wound. I blacked out and, hours later, awakened to find myself in bed. Clawing at the bandage on my wrist, I ripped it off and saw how the sugar had hardened, attaching bone to bone again. The skin would grow back in a few weeks, and it would look exactly as it always did.
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It’s not so hard, living in a body like this. I like to tell people that I’m sweet to my core. I always laugh. They rarely get the joke.
I had a boyfriend once who was obsessed with the idea of my bones. When I told him they were candy, he said he didn’t believe me. But he couldn’t stop thinking about them. Sometimes he would spend whole weeks barely touching me, as though I would snap if he held my hand too tightly. Other times he got rough out of nowhere, gripping my arm or the back of my neck as though he could crush me into sugar granules with his bare hands. I imagined him fantasizing about turning my bones into crystals and stirring them into his coffee.
Once, when he was drunk, he got on his knees and grabbed my foot and sucked on my big toe like it was a lollipop. He gently, so gently, bit down. He begged me to let him eat one of them, just to see if it were true. To see if my bones would crunch like candy between his teeth.
I stopped telling dates about my bones after that. There are a lot of weirdos in this world.
“My father once told me that I should donate my body to science to examine the candy girl when I die.”
Do you ever think about what your skeleton looks like? How it sits inside you, gleaming and perfect as a Halloween decoration? I’ve always been a little jealous of people who can walk into museums or rob graves and get a look at their future. It sounds dreamy to know exactly what you’ll look like when you’re dead and gone.
I haven’t seen my bones since I was seven. It’s not that I’m careful. In fact, I’ve been trying to break myself for years just to get another look at what’s inside me. No luck, however. Apparently, candy is quite hard.
I think my skeleton must be beautiful, like some macabre confectioner’s masterpiece. Every Día de Los Muertos, I look at sugar skulls and think, that’s what I look like, underneath all this. I hope I’m decorated just like that, a riot of colours against my caramel bones. I will be the loveliest skeleton at the cemetery one day, even if no one will be able to see me. My father once told me that I should donate my body to science to examine the candy girl when I die. But I think I’ll keep these sweet bones to myself. I’ll be a treat for bugs until the day I melt, leaving only some sticky earth to mark that I was here.
Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick (she/her) lives in Philadelphia with her husband and black cat. Her fiction has appeared in Maudlin House, Ellipsis Zine, New Gothic Review, and Coffin Bell Journal, among others. Find her on Instagram at or on Twitter.