Friday, October 14, 2005

Scary Is As Scary Does

I missed Survivor and The Apprentice to write this. What am I afraid of? Dead lines.



Driving in the Dead Lane

Carmel had never seen a dead body before today. In all of her 23 years, she had never stumbled over any missing joggers or attended an open casket funeral. This morning, she said goodbye to her favorite Aunt Shirl during the viewing at Reeses' Memorial Chapel.

Tossing, fitful, Carmel couldn't get the stiff and waxen visage of her aunt out of her mind. It was a mistake, she thought, to study every detail of the woman laying in her silk-lined coffin. Although it seemed like a good idea at the time, an attempt to preserve one last mental portrait of the woman who snuck Carmel into Meier and Frank to get her ears pierced against her mother's strict instruction, of the woman who always seemed more like a sidekick, a big sister than an aunt, the images twisted and taunted the grieving niece.

Carmel didn't want to let her closest friend and confidant go, and if she imprinted Shirl's expression--a mouth that wanted to smirk in spite of staples, her hair--combed back instead of parted down the middle, exposing Shirl's high forehead, her clothes--the purple seersucker tunic over black pants that made her feel polished and sexy, the cream-colored silk pillow and lining--Carmel etched every last color, texture, nuance of her dead Aunt Shirl into her memory.

Carmel directed her thoughts from the casket to the chapel, hoping to eventually 'think' her way out of the viewing and into a pleasant dream. Her attention paused at the bier, the lattice supports and wheels. The wheels bothered Carmel, but she wasn't sure what was off about them. They gave the casket a kind of go-cart kind of look, and now she envisioned Aunt Shirl driving her coffin out of the chapel, down the steps, and into the street back to her house.

Carmel chuckled, eyes still closed, at the thought.

Dozing, finally, Carmel pulled her down comforter over her shoulder and turned onto her side, expectant of deeper sleep, ignoring the low chatter of some late-night radio show. She couldn't hear the words any longer, it was just a hum on the other side of her head.

The radio had timed out, the room, quiet, Carmel fell asleep at last. She would have stayed asleep if it hadn't been for the squeaking coming from the hallway.

Mice? she wondered. It stopped-- and started again, getting louder, the squeaking came nearer and nearer to her room, wheels? she whispered. Wheels.

Squeaking passed the threshold of her open bedroom door, a long, dark box on a gurney rolled into the room, all by itself, and stopped at the foot of Carmel's bed. She waited for it to move, to roll back out. She knew who was in it--and she wasn't afraid. Until the gurney pivoted, rolling up alongside the bed. The metal casket gave off a chill Carmel could feel without even touching it.

"Aunt Shirl--are you in there?" Carmel sat up, pulling her comforter up to her chin. The coffin didn't move for a while, and neither did Carmel. "I miss you, Shirl. I remember building that birdhouse with you just a few weeks ago. Those robins and squirrels are gonna miss you a bunch. Carmen sucked back snot, dabbing tears with her comforter. "I've always wanted to be like you--ever since I was little. You've done everything I want to do. Promise you'll never leave me. Promise you'll watch over me."

Purged of her grief, Carmel's sobs stilled, and she grew sleepy again. "Good bye Aunt Shirl. I love you." The thing started rolling again, slowed by the thick carpet, but eventually working its way out of the room, down the hall, and back to whereever it came from.

Carmel awoke the next morning, surprisingly light of mood for a niece who'd lost her best friend only a few days before. "I'm so glad I could say goodbye. I think Aunt Shirl really knows how much I love and miss her. I hope I dream about her again." Carmel stretched, swung her feet over her bed, and then grabbing her clothes from a chair she noticed a dent in the door jam, and some paint had been scraped away. Carmel stood stone still--taking it in, trying to think of how she had dented the wall--then looking down, she noticed something else.

Bending down, she examined the carpet, looking first at her feet, then down the hallway. She looked, and looked, but couldn't explain away the two furrows in her carpet leading to the front door.


Anonymous betty myers said...

Oh my how I did enjoy that story.My grandma who I totally adored use to visit me frequently until I guess I didn't need her to anymore. Love you Betty

2:49 PM  
Blogger Cindy St. Onge said...

Betty, thank you. I 'm glad you liked it. I really believe our loved ones who pass on see us through the most difficult part of grieving, comforting us in dreams and visitations.

Love you right back:-)

7:52 PM  
Blogger Queen of the Inane said...

FUN. And surprisingly apt. for all the dying that's being done in grand old Humboldt.

10:07 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Blogroll Me! Site Feed