Well, in the best of cases, they are found, stained with the blood and discoloration and fear of their last moments. Families cry, or don’t. There is a ceremony, or isn’t. The sinner is punished, or isn’t.
Sometimes they are found, but not really. Jane Doe in the local morgue. Cases cold for a year, ten years, thirty.
Sometimes- oftentimes- they are lost. Melting in water, fish suckling away scum on the dissolving flesh. Dirt filling mouth, eyes, ears, roots and fungi eating away coagulated blood that was once red and strong. Left alone, decay blowing stink for miles, flies and carrion eaters the unwelcome guests at the table of a woman.
And sometimes they are never given the chance. Incinerated, crushed, bathed in acid, fed to dogs, destroyed, destroyed, destroyed, a soul, a human, a woman: erased from this earth.
Or almost erased.
What happens to murdered women?
They are at rest, for a while. But inevitably, they are dragged back to the world that killed them.
The bodies of murdered women rot, and are reconstructed.
Rainwater puddles in the skull. Small animals nest, breed, die. Beetles click between ribs, and their shells knit together into bones. Mismatched organs are packaged under borrowed skin. Eyes open, glimmering, the scales of a broken winged butterfly.
The body of a murdered woman breathes.
And then it runs.
Men forget. Men commit the most monstrous act that a man can, and then forget. A man will toss away a woman’s body. He will go home, eat dinner, and fall asleep.
He will live. For years he will live, his only punishment any remorse his conscience bothers to inflict.
One night, he will sit in bed, reading. The hairs on the back of his neck will raise like someone who is long gone is breathing behind him. He will think of her, for the first time in a very long time. He will think of her in black and white, a blurry face on a news story he half remembers.
He will shake it off.
The window will be open.
Detachedly, he will look up, and think the dead creature, the woman thing, is beautiful. Black hair, greasy and long like an horror movie caricature. Eyes with no whites, glinting like the first night he saw her, all glossy black pupil. Arms and legs with joints that point straight up like an insect’s. Fingers that don’t end in nails, simply taper off to filthy, deadly points. A lovely kind of symmetry, he will think, as the pincers grown where a tongue should be sink into his neck and pump him full of venom.
She will sit like a massive spider, unmoving. He will writhe, and then twitch, and then he will lie still.
Her exoskeleton will clack together as she makes a meal of the man who murdered her. She will swallow chunks of his flesh whole, and she will leave nothing but bones which she will suck the marrow from.
So she will withdraw the way she came, sated and slow from her meal. Hands and feet with borrowed talons will put scrapes and cracks in the walls as she retreats, her eyelids heavy. Her body, murdered, mutilated, will drag itself away. Her body, bloated, satisfied, will come to rest miles away. Her eyes will close.
She will rot for the second time. Her murderer rots with her.