raegan_1: (beyond the clouds)
[personal profile] raegan_1
Written in the spring, during my final semester, this was one of my final writing projects for a creative writing: fiction class.

The original challenge was, I think, to write in second person... I adapted that for my 'short short' story, and... this is the result. Possibly creepy, definitely macabre, it is one of the things I have written of which I am most proud.

Reformatted to LJ to make reading easier.


You have always been ‘different.’ It has taken a lifetime to acknowledge your flaws; it will take another to accept them. Your poor people skills are hard to miss, but they’re easy to understand.

Her upturned face is relaxed, mouth lax. She has the soft features and smooth skin of a woman in her early twenties. You greet her in a somber tone suitable to the setting. "Hello, Mary."

Childhood was a misery. Raised voices, the sick smell of stale beer, the purple color of
healing bruises, the shake in your hands, the taste of fear like bile in your throat. During those years, you overlaid thoughts of the present with dreams of the future. After, you found the only memories you couldn’t repress were the strongest, the ones that bled you from the inside.

Mary has been waiting for you, her clothes removed, her body chilled. A tattoo of a flower adorns her hip. There's a band of pale skin on the ring finger of her left hand, evidence of the ring she returned to last month's lover.

A year ago, a woman refused your ring without touching it. Her hair was as dark as Mary’s is light. There are nothing but superficial similarities, no features in common other than the necessities of being human. Skin, limbs, the typical features of the face.

Her half-closed eyes gaze at the ceiling. They are dull and glassy. A line of glue goes across either side of her eyelids, left first. You pull the lid shut and hold it until the glue dries and seals it closed. You repeat the movements on the right side. The glue sticks to your thumb and looks like an extra layer of dead skin. You scratch a nail along the pad to dislodge it.

High school confused you. Your ambitions went from teacher to cosmetology to psychology. Your social rank went from suck-up to fag to outcast. You wanted to help people, but you couldn’t help yourself. Given where you’ve ended up, it’s arguable nothing has changed on that score.

The cause of death was not particularly violent, but it takes a while to work her face into something other than blandness. Nothing over the top, no grotesque attempts at a smiling rictus. What you achieve is a pleasant, and pleasing, half-smirk. You wire her gums so the expression holds, and then carefully apply glue to her lips, sealing the smirk in place. Already, she looks more peaceful than when you started.

The first year of college proved you had an aptitude for make-up advice and science. You already knew you lacked social skills, so that was less a revelation than a confirmation. You made more friends than in high school. This says little, as one is more than zero. However, you have made friends, and those relationships are deeper and longer lasting than you could have imagined. Friendship is worth the effort of cultivation.

Mary is thin. Her bones seem brittle as you lift arms, legs, hips, and shoulders and slide clothing into place. Her parents brought a full set of clothes, under and outer layers. It's all very chic. Mary was a girl of the modern ages.

You tug her shirt down and button the jacket last, pulling it carefully over the distinctive mound of her stomach. You let your hand pause there briefly, knuckles resting against still cotton. The fetus died with its mother, completely untouched by the outside world. There had been discussion of burying mother and child separately, but you convinced them otherwise. You did not want to be the first and last to touch Mary's child.

The make-up kit is in order. You have three hours to conclude this business with Mary, make yourself presentable, and meet the evening’s blind date. She is a single mother of one, she was born exactly a month before you, and you have been assured she will adore you from the get-go.

While you make small talk and stumble over proper etiquette, Mary will spend her last evening above ground, surrounded by her family and friends. You will cringe and stutter over social missteps, and Mary will lie serene in the presence of those who loved her.

When you realize you are comparing yourself unfavorably to the dead, again, you vomit into a basin, rinse your mouth, and call to cancel your date.

Mary lies serene. She is not disgusted, or judgmental, or anything. There is no comparison. You compose yourself into stillness. There is no comparison between the life of a woman who has lived and loved so obviously, who carries the marks of that life upon her body, and with a man who touches life through death.
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February 2015

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