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"Cause of Death" by Riley Renwick

He’s chewing on my ankle bones.

They split his teeth down to the narrow of it, sharp things that now have jagged edges. He curses me, I think, as the pain shoots through the roots of his jaw. It’s his fault for gnawing on things that he doesn’t own- you never know how tough somebody is until you cut them open. I think of that as a universal truth. Someday I’ll be going into med school, or just college in general. I want to see how tough everybody is. My job is to cut them open. My job will someday be to see exactly where they split.

He’s carving up my rotator cuff.

He says that it’ll be pretty one day. Swirls and stars, hollowing it out until the light shines through. He never really was a sculptor. Never really was much of anything. He thinks that his point in life is to cut people open. He still doesn’t understand how tough they are, he never bothers looking. I hope that in being split the dead can finally be known. He has no hopes. When the dead fall apart under his thumb, he lets himself feel nothing for a while.

He’s going after my scapula with a hammer.

There’s a certain point where everything falls apart. You just have to find it. Everything can fracture with enough force and the correct placement. My sibling knows that better than I do. I drop glasses and they break, lying in wait when I’m too tired to pick up all the shards. Later I wonder where the nicks in my soles come from. Does he wonder what happened to cause that sluggishly bleeding cut? Or has he stopped seeing me at all?

Riley Renwick is a young queer author based out of California. This piece is based on their hopes of becoming a medical examiner, and on their fears of what it means when someone kills you.


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