A Ray Bradbury inspired story:
Word count: 451
Tom discovered it first thing in the morning on the way to his mailbox.
It swung in the crisp fall breeze, covered in vapory thin clothes, bones rattling against each other, a macabre wind chime prominently displayed from the old tree. Tom’s cat hissed at it, skittering away from it into the bushes leading out to the old field.
The skeleton swung, unperturbed.
Tom stood silently watching it swing and twist. Occasionally, a lone leaf would fall off a branch above it and scrape across the old bones.
His wife joined him. “My God, Tom. Will you look at that?”
“I am looking,” he muttered, running one hand through his white hair.
“Do you suppose it’s some kinda joke? Bored teenagers, or something?”
He shrugged his shoulders, continuing to stare until his wife sighed, rubbing at an arthritic knee, and headed back towards the house. “Just get it outta here, will you?” she said.
Tom fetched the ladder but when he set it up he found himself unmotivated, stuck halfway up. Why did it even need to come down? He liked it, though he couldn’t say why. Its clothes were faded red, sleeves torn and pants ripped but it felt more alive to him than he, himself did. It didn’t hurt like he did, wasn’t bent and crooked, achy.
Its teeth rattled at him, seeming to talk, or maybe just chomp in his direction. He leaned closer to it and saw that there were wispy bits of white hair attached to its scalp, not unlike his own.
He climbed back down, leaving the ladder and the skeleton to the morning sun.
Into the night the skeleton danced among the bare branches of the tree. Frayed clothes knitted together, twisted muscles stretched across its bones. Blood dripped from fingertips that covered slowly with skin. Eyes bulged, then covered with eyelids, teeth hid behind lips, wispy hair thickened and coarsened, turned dark.
The sun crested the old field and filled the little farmhouse with light, shining on Tom’s side of the bed, which was empty. Tom’s wife rolled over grasping the blanket to her chest, slumbering.
The cat stood in her place in the yard, swishing her tail back and forth, watching the slow and ponderous figure making its way through the field beyond the leaf littered yard. Watching its shoulders roll and the clothes on its back flutter and whip, the red plaid flannel shining in the early morning sunlight. Soon the figure walked more steadily, then confidently, striding. Youthful hands swept once through dark hair before settling over his heart. As light painted the meadow a golden hue he broke into a run, an old man turned young, and disappeared from view.