In celebration (anticipation?) of NaNoWriMo 2013, I thought it would be fun to post the intros of my previous victories and attempts. I mean, thus far, my scribbles have not really seen the light of day. So why not?
There were two caskets for the body of my father. The wood was black, glossy, expensive. My mother and I stood graveside as the priest muttered words more to himself than to us. They were words that I couldn’t hear… Whatever. In response to what he was saying. I assumed it was something to do with Jesus or Cover Girl or some other divinity that wouldn’t make me feel any better. Two caskets and only one grave. Beside me my mother’s shoulders shrugged really fast, rapidly is the word, sobbing without sound. She wiped her eyes and I put my arms around her, because I had seen people doing it in movies.
It was a cold spring day with a damp, frosty nip to the air. The ground was a semi frozen chocolate ice cream mishmash of grass and mud. Looked as though it might make a squelching sound underfoot. The sound a pie might make when it hits the face of a cartoon character.
Maybe that’s how I felt—as though I’d been assaulted with a giant cartoon cream pie. My stomach growled. My mother cried. This would be so much easier if they weren’t around to make the worst of it. The audience.
On the other side of the grave were the spectators. A wall of pure black and white Armani shoes and whoever purses. All wearing their over sized sunglasses, looking like bug eyed insects. Even with this, I could feel them staring at me. Judging me. I was very aware of the roll of my stomach slung over the sides of my dress pants like a moist, sweaty coat on the back of a chair.
Some of them held expensive cameras and snapped photos of the coffins, my crying mother and me, with my arm around her. They had 20x zoom power to capture the entire moment and look on it later. Some of them had cameras so powerful they could probably see the nervous sweat on my forehead and my upper lip. The oil in my pores. The gel in my hair and how I had very much failed at making it neat from it’s perpetually messy, pizza greasy state.
They whispered among themselves and smirked when my mother began to full out cry, wailing. Her voice cut over the priest and his talked about the endless Wal-Mart aisles in heaven. It echoes and bounced among the tombstones. I noticed a gorgeous blonde sitting in the front row with the spectators, sending messages with the phone in her lap. My mother wrapped both arms tight around me, sobbing straight on my chest. Right between my man boobs. Two coffins, a fat mother and host of people.
It was more of a sideshow than a funeral. Especially when the hot dog vendor rolled up, his bell ring-a-linging in the silence. Nobody on the other side even twitched. If the upper crust ever ate anything it was organic, imported, detoxifying, or illegal. But the smell filled me. My stomach grumbled louder and my eyes suddenly filled with tears, like I had been chopping up onions.
The onlookers murmured and snapped more pictures. The blonde, my age, stared at me over the shade of her sunglasses. She is shaking too, with laughter. I can feel the blood rising like a red sun over the edge of the horizon. It superheats my face like a microwave oven, spreads across my cheeks. This blonde presses her perfect lips tightly together and raises her perfect hands and snaps a picture.
It takes four men to lower the first coffin into the dirt.
The coroner looked a us with an apologetic face and his head turned side to side from shoulder to shoulder in a shaking of his head, no.
“I’m sorry ma’am,” he has the decency to call my mother ma’am, and for that, I have to like him a little. We’re short on respect, even self respect. He has watery eyes like someone who is sick and a red nose. Sick or crying—but I can’t tell, and I’m not asking. I stand behind my mother. The coroner produces a hankie from the pocket of his jacket. He passes it to her and blows her knows. It trumpets.
“We should discuss other burial options for your husband… I heard of a story similar a county over, and to solve their problem they…. Saw fit to downsize the deceased instead of upsize the coffin.” Words are not reading loud and clear. I can’t figure out what he means, but I am sure I’m going to find out. 700 lbs does not leave you or your family with many options once you’re found dead in your living room. “He just won’t fit in one piece.”
As it disappeared into cold, half thawed, tired mother earth, I shuddered. The only thing left was the second coffin. After it was gone, we could move on. Pretend it had never happened. Clean our shame away, maybe find better jobs… Our most hideous family member long gone, we might be able to step up in the social ladder.
A flash from one of the cameras causes one of the diggers to trip. The second casket topples and out flops a meaty ham hock of an arm with sausage fingers, severed at the shoulder. My mother screams. A lightning storm of flashes, an excited murmur.
Working together, the diggers pick up the casket again and this time, carry it all the way to the grave. My mother sighs with relief, pulling herself entirely together as it moves out of sight. The flush of harassment and embarrassment slowly fades as our largest shame in a very solid and real sense of the word disappeared from view. My father was dead and I only had a couple of thoughts in my mind: I’d date that blonde. I want four hot dogs, and thank God the man who gave me life finally dropped dead.