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Obituary: a very short story


Karen loved the rain.

He saw her smile — felt it, really — somewhere between him and the raindrops that fell into the puddles beyond the protection of his umbrella. The memory of her smile reminded him that he he had lived, had a history, had been.

He saw her smile and remembered how she would turn her pretty beautiful shining face up into the rain. She would smile, shutting her eyes into anime-tight semicircles, her face glowing from the pleasure of the rain falling on it, and she would coo — in that sweet, hyper-girlish, and soft voice that she used only to express happiness and joy and delight, that voice that was wholly out of tune with her deep and passionate interest in economics — “I love the rain.”

It occurred to him that she might have taught herself to love the rain only to go against the grain, to push back against the herd mentality presumption that the rain is always a signifier of sadness. It was the sort of thing she would have done.

The whole thing had been doomed from the start. She was still in love with another boy and he was still in love with another girl. They talked themselves into each other's arms, driven by a common conception of how love ought to be and their polemically opposed views on economics. Their relationship was as conceptual as it was physical.

In between the battles and the debates, the separations and the reunions, the depression and the joy, they found love. Despite it all? No, because of it all. It was soft kisses in bed and hard fucking in dark corners. Eternities of bliss above the covers and timeless serenity over coffee. Hugs, kisses, and wounds so deep, it seemed like they would never heal.

That’s how he liked to remember it, anyway. And now he could remember it however he pleased because she was dead and could never again interfere with the little stories he made up in his head on the way to work or in the shower or waiting to fall asleep. Not even in theory. Dead from cancer, far-too-young, missed by all, etcetera, etcetera, please donate instead of sending flowers. A strange thing to learn on Facebook, while waiting for the bus in the rain.

This isn't about her, of course. This is about me, and my own obituary. My own longing to be mourned by someone lost but not forgotten. To have a place in a history beyond my own — to be a part of histories, not history. I mourn now only because I hope that others will mourn for me, that others might remember me when I am gone. Funerals have always been for the living, I suppose. But there was that smile of hers, the smile that always bloomed in the rain and sometimes bloomed for me too. There was that smile.

The bus arrived. He boarded it. He found a seat. He distracted himself from the need to mourn, to remember, to love. It was exactly the sort of thing he would have done, when it had been falling apart all those years ago.

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