Rows of the Deceased

In Fiction, Writing on October 25, 2012 at 4:21 pm

As promised, here is one of my first legitimate fiction writings.  It was for a writing portfolio for a class I was in many, many years ago and I ended up getting an almost-perfect grade on both this writing and the portfolio as a whole.  I intend to revisit this writing at some point to flesh it out a little bit, update it so it’s more mature, etc., but I haven’t taken the time yet.  So I give this to you, Blog World, in its original form straight out of the mind of 17-year-old me.

Marilyn Brooks


Loving daughter and friend,

Gone to be with the angels

I have memorized every painful letter carved into the marble slab.  I spend much of my time at this cemetery reading over all the headstones, wandering through the departed families and friends that I am never able to just walk away from.  There are many compassionate dictations, but this is the only one that actually means anything to me.

Nobody had understood why Marilyn was always so perturbed why Marilyn never ate, why she slept so much and kept to herself, but I did.  Then the doctors diagnosed her with “manic depression.”  And when they practically pushed pills down her throat, everything seemed okay.

“Here, take these; they will make everything better, Marilyn,” they would say.  The doctors made the medication her perfect little babysitter so nobody else would have to worry about it.  The family believed that it was her only hope, as if a little more affection and patience would have made anything worse.

Nobody really acknowledged it when Marilyn quit taking her medication.  She got tired of feeling like she was floating, like she couldn’t even remember her own name sometimes.  Nobody knew, but I did.

I was at the hospital when the body was brought in, but it was already too late.  The doctors rushed around, trying to get any sign from the limp form lying on the metal table in front of them.  The family, the same ones that had pushed her into her own little world, further away from what she had needed most, suddenly cared again.  They were wiping tears and hugging, trying to “console” one another.  I watched from a corner where I had stood all alone.

“Poor thing, she’s just a baby still,” a nurse had said.  “What could possibly cause a person to do this?”  Nobody knew, but I did.

I was at the funeral, as well.  I walked along with the procession, all the people dressed in black flowing dresses and dry-cleaned suits.  I stood by the dark hole and watched as they lowered the gray casket into the cold ground.  I commanded them to stop, that it wasn’t right!  But they didn’t listen.  I tried to stop them, but to no avail.  And still, as all the friends and family were loading into their cars, wiping their tear streaked faces, nobody really understood.  I had even heard a few people mumble, “I just don’t understand.  How could this happen?”

I wanted to scream at them, tell them that she didn’t need drugs!  All she needed was someone to talk to, someone to try to help her, not keep her entertained until the pills would knock her out or put her in a hypnotic state.  I wanted to tell them all that she got fed up with being the family’s dirty little secret that they tried hide relentlessly.  That in an instant she had made her decision, given up all hope, taken a kitchen knife, and slit her wrists.  I wanted them to know that while they were all playing poker and watching Jerry Springer that she was laying in her bedroom floor, slowly drifting off to what she thought would be her peace, that her death had actually turned out to be just as horrible as her life.  But I couldn’t.  I just stood and watched them go.  I tried to catch the gate as the last of the funeral attendants walked out, but I was too slow.  It closed just out of my reach.  I knew, however, that even if I had caught it in time, I wouldn’t have left.

My attention was drawn from my memories by voices behind me.  I turned to find two of Marilyn’s friends from her school.  The girls were quite older than they were at the funeral, and I seem to have forgotten their names.  They had been here more than Marilyn’s mother, though.  I had spoken to them every visit they made, even though I knew they would never speak back.

“well, why not?” I asked myself.  “One more try, just for good measure.”  I walked up to one girl’s ear.  “Hello.”  She just dropped her head and a tear rolled down her cheek.  An ounce of pity and sorrow was shown.  This made me a little happy.  It had been so long to see anything of this sort for Marilyn.  I tried with the other girl, I even tried to touch her, but she slipped out of my grasp and pulled her coat tighter.

“I can’t believe it has been seven years,” the first girl whispered, shaking her head.

“Seven years, huh?” I said to myself.  This thought made me, too, shake my head.

“Poor Marilyn.”  The girls turned to leave.

Oh, poor, poor Marilyn.  Everybody loves her now that she’s dead.  I wanted to spit on the couple walking away, but I knew it was pointless.  Why couldn’t anybody think ‘poor Marilyn’ before she died?  If they did, it might not have happened!  Or maybe, if it had ended up happening anyways, she would have been thinking “Oh, at least one person cared,” while she was slipping into the darkness instead of “God forgive me.  Have mercy, I had nothing else to do!”

She had pleaded with God to forgive her; she had known that suicide was a sin.  And once again, I had been there when she had made her choice.  I didn’t persuade her, or try to stop her.  I wasn’t watching from a hiding place, or holding her hand.  I wasn’t a family member or a close friend.  I was holding the knife.  I was slitting Marilyn’s wrist, my wrists, for Marilyn and I were one.  I lay in the floor, bleeding and crying, praying to have peace, but instead, I was cursed with this.

I watched the two girls simply walk out the front gate, and wished I could do the same.  I had tried, only to appear back in this very spot, above my own coffin, standing atop my slowly deteriorating body.  I had watched many that I knew walk in and walk out, never seeing or hearing any hint that I was, in fact, still here.  I laid down on the dew covered grass, may hand on my head stone, and read over the engraved phrase once more.

“Gone to be with the angels.  That would only be just too sweet.  But I’ll let you  I am,” I muttered to all that knew me, where ever they might have been at that moment.

I had often entertained the thought that this was all a dream, and that I would suddenly wake up and be in my bed again.  I prayed that this thought was true, even if it meant I had to be put back on medication, but as I had done before, I lost hope in that as well.  I had transformed, gone from ‘Marilyn Brooks, the crazy and lonely’ to ‘Marilyn Brooks, the dead, crazy, and lonely.’  So I lay here, only to arise again the next day, and the next, and the next, to watch the people come and go and wander through the rows of the deceased.

Copyright © 2012


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