Fiction | Short Story

Death in Retrospect

by Someone Who’s Still Alive

What she’s saying is . . . she wants a war. 

It’s life and death, and she’s bored. So don’t play that jazzy flute in her face and act like you know so much. Don’t tell her how she’s supposed to feel. She’s never done this before. Don’t get all Amy Poehler on her and dole out “famous-rich-person” advice. Just be funny and make her laugh.

Do women really need so much advice? Men need advice, they just won’t seek it. They won’t admit they need it.

This is so pretty. People touching. It happens to be a man and a woman. But it could be anyone. People touching can be so pretty. Don’t play that jazzy oboe in her face and pretend to be free.

When she is so tired and sick and there’s nothing left to do but read a book, she can’t find her glasses. She looks all over the house for what seems like hours and then she screams as loud as she can at the top of her lungs. She watches TV instead. Later, she finds her glasses in the car.

Empty museum. She’s never been in one. 10,000 degrees in Peace Square. Burns. The worst kind of torture. Oh shit. All the MFA people writing. All this writing. Nothing against writers, god love ’em. But too much already. No more writing. Including me.

Changed my mind.

Essay question: Bombs in Boston. Hiroshima. Compare.

That was a long, long time ago. The end.

“This is horrible. I can’t watch it.”
“You’re right, I can’t make sense of it.”
“I’m not even trying to make sense of it. I’m just feeling bad and I want it to stop.”
“So don’t watch movies like this anymore. Turn the movie off.”
“Then what the hell am I going to do?”
“You don’t know what it is to forget.”

When you feel badly about yourself, it’s because you are made of love. Do you understand? The bad feeling, is it envy? Self-hatred? A sense of lack, or worthlessness? Run of the mill fear? That’s really just deep, immense love turned upside down and twisted around. Turned-upside-down-and-twisted-around love. No wonder you don’t recognize it. Being made of love, and feeling like shit, are not as disconnected as you might think. It’s dark magic.

“Give love constantly, but remember that’s what you are doing.” Thus Spake Amy Poehler

No matter what you’re doing. Even if you are weeding someone else’s garden. Pretend you’re doing it in the name of love.

“Oh yeah, In the Name of Love, that’s a U2 song. You must be talking about Jesus.”
“No, I’m not. I’m not talking about Jesus.”
“Let’s never talk about Jesus. But let’s go ahead and love.”

Let’s say someone loves you. You love that person, too. A lot. Two people in love. That love is transformative. And neither one of you is alone. Not anymore. But then one day you find you are alone, again, with that other person. Sitting right there in the room. FOUR LETTER WORD! The two of you. No invitations. No friends. Alone.

My best friend and I, running in corduroy shorts, through a theme park called Busch Gardens, The Old Country. We ran from France to Italy.

This is not a real protest. All these peoples are actors. They aren’t even actors; they are just extras. Just bodies. The main point: this protest is not real. It is staged. Which is not to say it shouldn’t be happening. Later, these extras are going to pretend they really did get hurt in the police action, the violence of the staged riot. They will get a book deal. Because adults are stupid. Even presidents. And children are enlightened beings. Adults are trapped in all sorts of bullshit ideas about themselves: reality, achievement, relationships. We screw up every damn thing.

Oh my god, please stop that folksy flute. That’s even worse than jazzy flute. Speak French, then. Take it all the way. You can’t navigate the river. It’s unnavigable. That means no boats. Did you realize that? You in your jazzy, folksy canoe? We all have our rivers. We all have our theme parks. Young once. Once young. Let’s show each other our sadness: little birds in our clasped hands. Learn words for this sinking feeling: after breakfast before lunch, when the coffee wears down. Some kind of nothingness. Being in love isn’t everything, is it?

The nice man dropped a marble through an open window. Then it got warm, and her hair grew back.
She rode a bike to Paris. It took two days.