Dead Set on Dancing (One)

It’s cold and it smells.

Now, I’m fully aware the smelly part is probably me, but it’s not what you think. I didn’t want this. No way! I just didn’t think she had the balls to do it, you know? You see it all the time in movies. Two people fighting, dueling it out with words, until someone finally says, “I wish you would!”  Who knew Kimberly Clevin would actually push me right into an oncoming school bus.

Now I’m six feet deep, freezing in my mahogany-colored coffin, in a dress my mom knew would haunt me for the rest of my buried life. How dare she put me in anything other than Chanel! What makes the situation worse is, I’m going to miss prom.

Prom! The biggest night in a teenage girl’s life and I’m dirt deep, having to listen to the elderly gentleman buried next to me sing “I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am” for eternity.

This blows!

The crunching sound above brought Henry the Eighth to a stop. Crunching always means a visitor and everyone seems to get anxious. Well, almost everyone. I hadn’t really heard a peep from the woman to my right in my two weeks underground, but Henry the Eighth said she’s never spoken. In total, there are five people buried around me. There’s one on each side of me, one above, and two below.

When I was first placed underground, I was overwhelmed by the warm welcoming. I could have sworn if we were above ground, there would have been a hall, decorations, and even cake. Since we were underground, there was just a lot of consoling and getting-to-know-you talk.

Henry the Eighth started.

He died at eighty-nine, liver cancer. His wife, whose name was Helen, I believe, never visited his grave. In fact, he often wondered if she was still alive herself. Apart from singing “I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am,” Henry knew no other songs. It made one part of me glad and the other nauseous. The song, always on repeat, got annoying fast. Henry isn’t even his real name, it’s Paul! Regardless, Henry the Eighth had turned into a good talking buddy over the past couple weeks. He seemed to know all the gossip from around the cemetery and couldn’t wait to spread it to everyone, including me. I’m not really sure how he got his information, but I figured someone buried to his other side was also a talker.

Below me are The Twins. Jenny and Jinny died at the age of eleven. When I was first introduced, I couldn’t help but shed a few tears for them. Here I was, complaining of being dead at eighteen, and they hadn’t even made it to high school. A product of their mother’s psychosis, the girls had been stabbed and buried in their backyard. And if that wasn’t bad enough, their mother had dressed them in their Easter dresses, matching light blue puffy gowns with lace collars, which they still wore to this day.

They laugh, well, giggle most of the time when they are awake. It seems like they have a lot of fun, although I can’t imagine what they are doing. School yard songs are usually what they sing when Henry the Eighth decides to finally take a snooze. “Ring Around the Rosy”, “Old McDonald, and “One, Two Buckle My Shoe” are their favorites. I haven’t heard those songs in years and now every time they sing, it usually brings a smile to my face.

Above me is Graceland; Grace, for short. Seriously, her name is Graceland. Isn’t that where Elvis lives? She’s forty-two and the product of a jealous boyfriend gone wild. Grace told me her story a few days back. We waited until The Twins fell asleep because although we’re dead, she didn’t want to taint the children. Seriously?

The boyfriend’s name was Rodger and he’s now in jail for life. They had been together for almost four years. Grace said he’d always had a problem with her beauty. He said she was “too pretty,” and that all the other guys in the world “wanted her face.” Strange, right? One night, she came home late from work, and he was still on the sofa waiting for her. She thought it was sweet until she realized he was sitting on their newly purchased couch holding a knife. They had only been living together for three months!

Anyway, he started slicing her face up and then lost control. Grace said the last thing she remembered before waking up underground was him “making love” to her. Gross! I feel extremely bad for her. I can’t imagine all the pain she went through but she said after the first two cuts, she kind of lost feeling. I don’t even want to find out. Could I even find out?

As I said before, my last neighbor doesn’t speak. I wondered if she might have been mute in her life and if that even carries over after you die. I mean, I didn’t think I would be able to think, talk, and well, be alive while I’m dead. It’s all very strange to me and no one seems to be able to explain it. Before I even had the chance to ask Henry the Eighth again, the crunching above my head caught my attention again.

“This is weird. Like, what do I say to it?”

“Say something, anything. I think it will help you cope, honey. Please.”

Sawyer! My oh-so-handsome football playing high school boyfriend, along with his mother, Polly. Can this woman not even leave me alone in death? Quarterback for the fourth year in a row, Sawyer was not only a sight for sore eyes but the one player scouts had been eyeing all year. Since I was head cheerleader, they had started looking my way too. Until, well you know, I died.

Was! It hit me like a freight train. I’m no longer the head cheerleader. I wonder who it is now…maybe Sawyer came to tell me.

“Um. Yeah, so my mom says it’s a good idea for me to come talk to you. I don’t know why, it’s just weird. So, yeah.”

My heart leapt with joy. Even though he didn’t say much, he was here visiting me! Butterflies fluttered in my stomach, just as they had the first day I met him, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m sure the pride and love radiated from my coffin because only fifteen minutes after Sawyer and his annoying mother departed, Henry the Eighth burst my bubble.

“This will be the first and the last you’ll hear of him. Believe me. If he hasn’t gotten over you already, he will.”

Well, thanks a lot, old man.



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