The Undertaker’s Daughter

There’s a girl that comes home to find her father staring at a dead body.

She sighs (like always) and drops her bag in the corner of the room, standing on her tip toes to catch a glimpse of the body over her father’s shoulder, who’s stroking his chin – which is funny because he shaved that same morning – and gazing at the wall.

He kisses her on the crown of her head (like always) and resumes gazing at the corner of the room like there’s a portal there, transporting him to a parallel universe. That is a complete lie, of course, because she looks at that same spot every time and sees nothing but crappy wallpaper.

After smiling sadly at the woman in her mid-twenties lying down, silently muttering a prayer, she whispers something about having homework and escapes to her room, where the smell of death and roses to cover it up don’t overpower her senses. She jumps onto her bed and bounces a little before settling down, looking at the ceiling like it was a starry night sky.

Maybe that’s what she had in common with her father, she thinks, the ability to see things where they don’t exist.

The next day, that same girl is at school, learning about civil wars and similes and Aristotle and the square root of pi but her mind wanders off to that woman, the same woman she saw lying down in a coffin, hands clasped together, her face frozen in peaceful death (though the marks around her neck prove the exact opposite).

How curious it is that people only show their true selves in death?

People keep away from her, The Undertaker’s Daughter, because “she’s haunted” and “she brings death, I tell you” – if I were you, I wouldn’t hang out with that freak. Their words sting but she has seen people who died of bee stings and this, this is nothing compared to that.

The flowers wither when the girl walks by. She knows, she can tell. Mother Nature abandoned her a long time ago, perhaps around the same time she stopped caring about living – it’s just a milestone, she tells herself, Death is a much more welcoming companion.

People are cruel but ghosts are much kinder, she guesses. The girl does not know if that is true but she has a faith, faith in a better life after death, because this one was doomed from the start. She was The Undertaker’s Daughter after all; falling into Fate’s good graces was never an option.

She waits, then. Awaits Death with a large smile and open arms, a clear mind on top of sturdy shoulders (the girl has nothing to fear, she has done nothing wrong). Her hairs turns gray and stringy but she waits – it wouldn’t take much longer now. Her skin turns wrinkly and saggy but she waits – it’s only a matter of time.

With a blink, the girl-turned-woman-turned-old-lady is no longer breathing but she’s not really bothered by it. She can hear everything much clearer now, the sound of her breath does not bother her (it does not exist).

There is a cloaked figure standing a few feet away from her, a bridge separating the pair. She wonders if her grin is too large, too wicked, too unsettling and then she changes her mind – she couldn’t care less.

The figure beckons her closer and she floats towards him, her feet hovering over the stone bridge by mere inches. She places her hand in his and she can see a beautiful smile growing on the man’s face.

The flowers don’t wither anymore, they are more vibrant than ever. Mother Nature has opened the door to her new home and the girl-turned-woman-turned-old-lady-turned-girl-again couldn’t be happier.

The Undertaker’s Daughter is no longer “haunted”, no longer a “freak”.

There is poetry in life, sure, but also in death.

She would know. She lives off it.

Tamára Pinto (10K)

May 2017

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