Day of the Dead
I have lived many lives. First as a tree in a forest; but like all good things, life as you know it ends. In my current reincarnation I am living in an apartment with an unsatisfied lady. Anne sits at my lap, placing her coffee cup down on me as she reads her morning horoscope. She calls me beautiful and strokes the grayish brown wood that someone stained me; underneath all that paint I’m actually blonde, not that Anne would know. And I’m not from Mexico, no matter what she tells you. I was handcrafted in the USA by expert artisans…on 5th and Lexington.
Anne’s been going on all day about the man. It’s been Jack this and Jack that; I haven’t been able to get a word in edgewise. I creak and she shoots me a look.
Those tiles they added to my paint job are as Mexican as I am, and from the same place. The only magic I have in my system is from the Fairies, but they left your world long ago. I miss my friends. They would never have allowed me to be chopped down.
“It’s June,” Anne says. She walks over to the refrigerator and paws at the piece of paper on the front. She chuckles. On the counter beside her I can see the ugly fish dishes she loves so. She sits by me and ponders.
“Thirty-five days until Jack comes home. Thirty-five days left to watch TV and not be criticized.”
I try to ask her why she wants to move in with a man who doesn’t even enjoy the same entertainment she does, but my consultation is not sought. She’s staring at the tiles again. The phone rings. It’s him.
“I didn’t think they let you call from rehab,” Anne says as she closes her eyes. She listens for a few moments, and then with a straight face says, “Sure.” She hangs up the phone and swears.
She stares at the tiles again, and goes to grab her car keys, throwing away a piece of paper as she goes out the door. I am alone again with the quiet of the apartment.
He returned to our home. He was sick; they spent many hours away from the home in the faraway place called hospital. Many nights he sat at my lap with a cup of water and gasped as she slept in the other room. It is curious how he never sits before me with food. Is he afraid of food? These humans require sustenance, I have observed, and yet he does not eat. I worry over them; if anything happens to them, what will happen to me? Over the next few weeks their lives transformed. It started out with broccoli and went downhill from there.
Anne came home and found Jack sitting at my lap, and staring into the open refrigerator. He had the broccoli in his hand. He moved to the refrigerator and she sat at my lap. I have observed that these humans tend to live around their refrigerator.
He picks up the soda and sets it down on my top; the lid pops off and some of the content spills. It tastes like sweet rain.
“Are you trying to poison us? This is not at all good for you; it’s all sugar,” Jack said.
Anne rolls her eyes and grabs a cloth. He carries the soda to the sink and pours it down the drain.
“We need to live healthier.”
So they left and returned later with bags of woven cloth from a new store. They piled fruits and vegetables onto my surface and he throws a book out onto my skin. The cover reads Zen Health, Zen Sex, Zen Longevity by Jason West. I start reading the rest of the book but he picks it up and walks out of the room. Anne puts the vegetables and fruit away.
“Why don’t we go right to the chapter on sex?” Anne suggests.
He ignores her, and snacks on a rice cake as he flips through the first pages. They read the book often. From the second day they sit in the kitchen and Jack reads aloud. Charts fill the front of the refrigerator with the cartoons. The lettuce washer took a permanent place in the sink.
They are happy. I hear sighs and moans coming from the room I have never been in, that which they call bedroom. One word rings out above all else, he yells it constantly, “Frugavore!” as if it were a personal chant. Not even the elves and goblins of the ancient woods went for that.
Before long he turns, going over the edge. I see why the elves outlawed the eating of solely fruits and vegetables. He has become the color of the orange. She sobs frequently. He takes the book with him to the bathroom frequently. She comes to sit at my lap and sobs, elbows on the table. It makes me wish I had my limbs with which to comfort her.
She stares at the tiles. It makes me dislike the worker who attached them to my surface with glue. I wish I could pick them off and fling them in that bag that leaves the house every day.
The two-liter bottle of soda returns. He won’t let her keep it in the refrigerator. They argue over the matter. The soda remains on my skin. She has reverted to her old ways. The cartons of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia are her companion now, along with bread and things of substance. I feel that they will not last long together.
She answered the phone again and grabbed the keys, heading out the door. They return shortly, she is munching on a chicken leg from the bucket, which I have not seen these many months.
“Your old place is up for rent. I think you should call the man,” Anne continued chewing her drumstick.
He does not get the hint, and instead stares at the bucket which she sets down on me.
“That is so gross. Why don’t you just eat a gallon of fat?”
“I just might do that. Get your shit together and get out,” she waived the chicken at Jack as if it were an ancient Elf-made sword.
He storms away in disgust and she sits at my lap happily eating her chicken leg. She hums a song I have not heard in many months. She stares at the tiles.
When he completes his packing I can see his stuff by the door in a pile. He turns to look at her.
“I need a ride to the apartment.”
“Take a cab.” She suggests, licking her fingers.
“Give me a ride or I take the table.” He responds.
I quiver in horror.
“Fine. Go pull it around; I’ll start taking your things downstairs.” She said. He started to walk away. I see a funny glint in her eye. She caresses my skin. “Don’t worry; I won’t let him have you.”
She leaves after they take all the items out of the apartment. It is quiet for a long time. She returns holding a cup of Coke with ice that she loved. She sets it down on my surface and stares at the tiles. She goes around opening every drawer, every cabinet. She circles around and puts her hands on her waist as if to comfort herself.
“This is mine.” She walked over to me and put a hand on my skin. She sighs.
First printing: “Day of the Dead.” In Student Literary Arts Magazine. Michael Darcher, Sharon Russell, Kathy Swart, Corrina Wycoff, Deborah Bransford, Andrew Bussey, Kevin Gray, Darlene Reilley (eds.), Tacoma: Consolidated Press. 2012. 22-31. Print.
Reprinted: “Day of the Dead.” DarWrites. Darlene Reilley. 2017. Web.