Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Obituary - original short fiction

by Alli Kirkham

I couldn't catch up to the newspaper truck. No matter how much they slowed down to toss their load out at each house, or how fast I was snatching it up out of the driveways, I still felt compelled to obey stop signs (a weakness that the truck driver did not share).

So I braked hard and accelerated hard each time I had to stop or go but the taillights pulled further and further away in the warm blue night until I knew that they'd turn a corner and I wouldn't know which way to go and I'd never be able to get all the papers out of all the driveways because I'd miss one and then it would mean that she was really gone.


We stood on sand that still held the heat of the day even though the sun was dipping below the horizon in an orgy of reds and yellows. There was a bonfire and brown glass bottles and some asshole with a guitar like there always is on the beach after dark. We ended up on the pier hanging onto the sunset longer than those below us.

She started to climb the guardrail and I tried to hold her waist - she twisted away from me and I shouted, scared, that she was crazy; that she was going to get herself killed. She laughed at me and snarled "Fuck You. I'm gonna live forever."

She had a cut on her hand from a mussel and a garland of seaweed twisted around her when I saw her again on the sand.


Some jackass got the wrong idea about the newspaper I took from his driveway and called the cops. Now I've lost the truck for sure and I have to explain that I tried to get ahold of the publisher, who couldn't be gotten hold of, and buy out today's paper, and that I will pay everyone for the papers that I'm taking, full news-stand price, even better than their subscriber discount, but I have to get the whole issue first. People can't be allowed to look at them.


She swam like a porpoise and climbed like a squirrel. She refused to run and spent at least half of each day (from what I could tell) lounging in patches of sunlight and dozing. She would rouse me with a kiss in the middle of the night and when I woke up the next morning I was never sure if it was real or if I had been dreaming of the taste of her mouth.


The photo on the cover is of her, stunning and condescending, next to a pitiful piece of mangled metal and underneath the exact sort of repulsively tawdry headline that you would expect in a small town where you can get arrested for stealing a newspaper. She's so beautiful.

"Kid," the police officer is saying to me. He's maybe three years my senior. "Kid, they're out, there's nothing you can do."

I shake my head and put my head down on my crossed arms. "I was supposed to keep it a secret," I say aloud; she was going to live forever, I don't.


I go to the beach. I write her name below the tideline and watch until the water comes in and washes it away.

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