My latest piece on Atlas Obscura explores 10,000 years of Artificial Cranial Deformation, an ancient practice that still goes on today – a link to humanity’s past.
The kiss of flame woke her, fingers burning, burning, burning. She stared at her hands, at the ghosts of fingertips, still there in her memories. The phantom pain lurched in lightning bolts, tracing along the scars on her arms, tracing patterns across her skin – maps to her memories, of lands she would rather were lost. Jerking, she pulled herself upright, pulled herself from her shattered dreamscape and back into the world.
She stared into the street, its soft covering of snow a blanket, smothering the city, smothering those men and women too poor for the workhouse, too poor for even the rudiments of commerce or of common courtesy. Too poor to live. The white hoar-frost painted delicate, filigreed lace beneath her window while the city lay, looming, infinite beneath the glow of gas-lamps – innocent-seeming, yet vicious.
The spectres of her past lived on, busy ghosts, ghoulish in the streets, plucking gentle-fingered, lifting wallets and pocket-watches from unguarded waistcoats. She pictured her own hand, caught in the unforgiving steel teeth of a pocket protector. She pictured the judge’s stern countenance, his words barely a whisper, as she leaned forward to catch hold of half-heard speech.