At least it was raining.
What was a funeral without a dismal weather forecast? It was a rhetorical question, because no one else could answer it. No one else would’ve, regardless.
Icy rain tentacles drizzled down my face—I couldn’t feel them, but the cold wriggled its way inside me anyway. This would’ve been the worst day of my life, but that award probably would go to the day I died. I don’t even remember how it had happened. I’d like to think it was assassins, but it was probably one too many meatballs at the local Cracker Barrel.
And now . . . NOW. I stood over my own grave, the spot marked with a simple wooden cross. My pride wouldn’t allow me to feel shame.
Shame that no one had even come to my funeral.
Why was I surprised? I knew full well I was an icky person. I’d chosen it, practically. I could have asked people how they were doing . . . and actually cared. I could have baked cakes for peoples’ birthdays and asked them how their grandmothers were doing.
I could’ve gone to the hairstylist and listened to her drone on about her previous customer’s divorce.
I could have tried a little bit harder.
But no. I had chosen me: me, Frannie Etheldean.
Something scraped up my arm, an unfamiliar feeling. I clawed at it—were they grubs, come to begin my decomposition? I shivered. I didn’t know how this afterlife thing worked.
If I had had one more day, I would have asked Andy Baker how he was doing before he gave up on me and realized who I really was.
I would have looked up a recipe for something goofy like a lemon raspberry cake, dressed it up in icing like Marie Antoinette, stuffed strawberries on the sides and lathered it in whipped cream and sprinkles.
I would have asked little Francis how his grandmother was doing. I always knew the kid needed someone to listen to him, but I’d chosen to not be that person.
And Melinda; oh Melinda, the hairstylist-gone-wrong, what with her overly bleached hair, purple eyeshadow, and tacky necklines. But boy, could that woman keep a running list of who was cheating on who.
I half hope the grubs will take me now. I’m this close to actually feeling ashamed.
My face flares with heat. I need a do-over, desperately. How had I found myself here?
I look back down at the ground, and the dirt has been piled into a mound, leaving a dank cavity. The darkness seems to call my name, just as it did my entire life.
I look left: no sign of life.
I look right: no sign of life.
Maybe a tear fell down my cheek. I’ll never know.
I took one step, plunging my foot into the darkness of the grave.
It was time to accept my fate. I’d always been part of the walking dead—I’d always been like death to other people.
It was payback time.