Beyond Life by Lynn Mundell

Despite seeing your empty hospital bed, writing your lengthy obituary, donating your emptied Levi’s, stuffing the jumbo plastic bag of your heart meds into the police department drop-box; despite voting for the deluxe urn decorated with woodland creatures, then later receiving my own mini urn because you were a big man and there was an abundance of material, which just means too many ashes; despite the stack of condolence notes now bound with a ribbon, including the congratulations card accidentally sent by an ancient auntie; despite the veterans cemetery columbarium like an elementary school cubby that Mom decorates for every fun holiday, including St. Paddy’s and Halloween, its metal manhole cover made for forever, or at least until we humans destroy this beautiful planet, I know that you are not dead, just incommunicado for a spell.

You often occupy a Naugahyde Barcalounger in my frontal lobe, where you tell me for-gods-sake don’t flip off the driver of the truck with the gun rack and the mud flaps with metallic silhouettes of busty—your word, not mine—women who just cut me off on the 101. From your chair you interject that layoffs are in fact coming, whatever the CEO says, that the corner store avocados won’t last two days, that I should pick the forgiveness over the grudge, the kids over the job, despite or perhaps especially because you occasionally made the wrong choice. Sometime you’ll be gone for weeks at a time, the empty chair filled with a body double of sadness, and then you’re back, saying the tickets to Cancun won’t get any cheaper, forget about the new neighbors—they’ll never be friendly—that I only have 28 more years, that they’ll go fast, that I should choose wisely, before I too end up giving directions from the godforsaken astral plane.

Lynn Mundell’s writing has been published most recently in The Disappointed Housewife, The Citron Review, Five Minutes, and 7×7 LA. Lynn is co-editor of 100 Word Story and its anthology. Her fiction chapbook Let Our Bodies Be Returned to Us was published by Yemassee at the University of South Carolina this year.

Sofa chair on the beach

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

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