Praying Him into an Angel

Death has a rather peculiar effect on the memory of the living… or more accurately put, on the way some of the living tend to remember those who are no longer breathing. I recall standing near my little brother’s coffin listening to people say things about him, which had nothing to do with who he was. The things they said were lovely and sweet and… total fabrications. I wondered, Why try to turn him into someone else? He was a good man—wild, and not as responsible as we wished him to be, but a good man nonetheless… The bit of fiction below was inspired by my feelings towards the whole situation.  

“Praying Him into an Angel”

“My own viewing and they have the cojones to glue my eyelids shut.”

I turned away from his casket. The voice behind me wasn’t familiar. But the ire-infused mirth in the words told my heart’s ear that the body being viewed by friends, family (and by pretenders trying to pass for the former) was only soulless meat.

“Want a spin?” he said.

“These bones were made for dancing,” I answered, but cocked my head towards the black and white teary gathering. “You know anything lively will piss them off right now.”

“Fuck ‘em,” he said, extending a hand and spinning me around and around, until I was clad in a blood-red dress with spaghetti straps and tiny polka dots sprinkled blackly around the hem.

Two young women, one in tight white leather and the other in very little of anything, began to argue over his casket.

“He loved me,” said one.

“In your heifer dreams,” said the other, snatching a handful of straight blonde wig.

He picked me up by the waist, and we leapt-danced into the middle of the fight.

“Tell her you loved me often,” said one.

“I did,” he told her with a grin.

“Tell her you love me best,” said the other.

“I did that, too.” He winked before gliding us out of reach of clawing shrieks.

“You are still a scoundrel,” I said.

“I died, but I’m still me. Always me, no one changes me without my permission. You should know that, brujita.”

“I’m a big one,” I said, as I always did when he called me little witch. Then I stopped laughing, and told him, “They’ve been trying to pray you into an angel.”

“Ha!” He twirled me closer to him. I grinned at his teeth made of light. “I would look ridiculous with wings. A flying Cadillac or no one’s getting miracles out of this baby.”

I was quiet for a while.

“Plotting, sister of mine?”

“Wondering about eyeballs and Universal Truths,” I said. “Someone told me I might be able to find my answer, if I were to look into the empty fullness of your eyes. Would you—”

He opened his eyes before I finished asking. “Anything for you.” His eyes were full of books, frogs, and skulls surfing powerful wee waves made of letters.

“What does it mean?” I said.

“I know what it means to me.” He tapped the tip of a finger of light between my eyes, then pressed a hand over my heart. “But only you can see through your eye.”

“Will I remember this when I wake up?” I said.

“And who said you’re sleeping?”

I blinked until my brother’s casket came back into focus. The funeral home was still bursting with black and crying. A pretty woman in a white leather suit and gold stiletto shoes jabbed a finger at a mirror image of herself in a micro mini dress. I grinned (and perhaps cackled), letting the words dancing in my mind’s eye spin and spin until they morphed into this story.

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the wee notes…
– All the characters that appear in this story are fictional… except the ones that aren’t *cough*.
– Linked to Sanaa’s Prompt Nights (That which we seek; deep within will find – “Identity”)

dancing-with-a-ghost-by-lucille-rusty-umali“Dancing with a Ghost”, by Lucille Umali

Are You Awake?

My mother and my uncle’s wife pretended to like each other. But they were so terrible at hiding their mutual loathing, that I never understood why they didn’t stop the farce and tell each other to go to hell. Or, at least, they should’ve had the decency to slap each other around until their ill-camouflaged glares bled some meaning into the world.

We traveled to the city to visit with my aunt and uncle every year. I had a love-hate relationship with the trip. My uncle was a fun military man, who always had a story for me. I was in awe of him and his white uniform. But his wife annoyed me. I wasn’t crazy about the fact that she would make my mother and I sleep on a plastic-covered couch in the living room. I wouldn’t have minded the floor. But she always said that she was afraid that “the kid would pee” on her carpet. The kid was almost a prepubescent!

The last time we visited my aunt and uncle was a somber affair for almost everyone involved. Except for me, I was a bundle of jolliness—my uncle was in the hospital, so I would get to spend some time with him without having to sleep on his wife’s horrid couch.

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All the happiness was ripped out of my heart, when we got to the hospital and a doctor told me that I could not stand too close to my uncle. “He is very sick,” she said to my mother. “And her allergies,” I had a skin disease that blessed me with a childhood covered in oozing sores… I have no idea why they called it allergies, “her allergies make her vulnerable.”

“But… can I talk to him?” I began to cry. Not because of what the doctor said, but because my mother was trying to hide sobs behind her hands—few things are scarier to a kid than the sight of a grown up crying. “He’s supposed to tell me about the time he ate his boots.” All of my uncle’s stories were like that.

“You can speak to him from the side of the bed, okay?” The doctor squeezed my shoulder. I looked at the floor and bit my lip, so that she wouldn’t notice that she had just touched a particularly angry sore.

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In front of my uncle’s hospital room, my mother helped me put on gloves and a facemask. “Don’t bother him,” she told me. “He can’t talk too much. You’ll say goodbye and wait for me outside.”

I didn’t say anything, just followed her into the room, and almost retched when the hot and thick scent of decay ripped through my nose and gut.

My uncle’s wife sat in a metal chair by the door, her arms crossed, her eyes red. She stood up to kiss my mother on the cheek. They began a whispered argument, and I walked closer to my uncle’s tiny bed.

His face was yellowish and swollen. “Tío?” I said, but his eyes remained closed as tightly as his cracked lips. I leaned on the mattress, and whispered a little louder, “Tío, are you awake?”

I’m not exactly sure what happened next. But my mother was dragging me out of the room. I couldn’t breathe. And my breakfast had hurled itself from my stomach to the front of my dress.

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The bus trip home was a confused dream, a nightmare that wouldn’t be fooled by open eyes. I didn’t talk to my mother. She hadn’t spoken to me when she helped clean my dress. But through the stink-soaked veil of my nightmare world, my ears heard my mother tell another passenger about maggots eating my uncle’s back, and about how “The bitch that tricked him into marrying her was to blame for the rot.”

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the wee notes…
– I’m almost sure that this was one of the experiences that nudged me towards joining the military—I really wanted to know what sort of circumstances could make a girl eat her own boots.
– Linked to Prompt Nights: “To travel is to take a journey into Yourself,” Sanaa said. “Life is a long road on a short journey during which we gather a bundle of good and bad” that can “break us or make us stronger. In the end it’s we who decide the outcome, and let the wings of fate take us where they may.”

My Colorful Dream, by Magaly Ohika“My Colorful Dream”, by Magaly Ohika
(find more of her wonderful work on her Etsy shop: The Itsy Bitsy Spill)