Graveyard Shift (‘Numbers’ short story collection)

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Hi. I’m Shauna, and I am dead. You know that saying about counting sheep before you sleep? Well that’s kind of my existence. I count numbers to pass the time. 1 coffin, 2 coffins, 3 coffins …15 coffins …250 coffins …1500 coffins …670,999 coffins. Death isn’t quite as peaceful as people think it is; there are no bright lights, fluffy clouds, or angels in white robes. I guess it’s peaceful in that I don’t actually feel anything, so there’s no physical pain anymore. You could dig me up, set me on fire and I wouldn’t feel a thing. Strangely though, I kind of miss the pain. It made me feel, real. But I guess there’s no point in feeling ‘real’ considering I’m just a slab of rotting flesh in a coffin. All that is left of me is a lifeless body with a mind full of rattling thoughts. The brain is a remarkable part of the body, the things we humans think about is extraordinary. Imagine what it would be like to be inside the brain of a murderer, or a rapist, or a genius, or of someone who is in a coma. I bet you have had thoughts that you would never tell anyone. I bet you have even worried yourself over the things that run through your head. We’re all a little bit messed up I think.

I have eternity to think, which is quite horrifying really. It’s like being held captive by my own mind. I mostly think of love, which is quite typical for most girls of my age. I’m 17. Well I was 17 when I died; today is my death-day so I guess it’s my first birthday as a corpse. Happy death-day to me!

It’s hard to define what true love is. We grow up watching rom-coms, listening to love songs and reading sonnets, and we use such fabricated nonsense to construct our expectations and opinions of love. Relationships end, engagements are cancelled and marriages turn to divorce. Sometimes though, true love prevails and a couple can stay together for a lifetime and their love is beautiful. I had a boyfriend when I died. I wouldn’t say that our love was beautiful though. His coffin is next to mine.

I glamorized him so much that the blades he dug into my body looked like cupids arrows, but now I can see the sharp, silver edge as clear as ever. I hate him because I loved him. I hate myself because I loved him. But I no longer do love him, so there’s nothing protecting him from me removing those very blades and pressing them into his outer shell and watching him suffer like I did. Here we both lie with our scars and empty hearts and crowded minds. Heaven and Hell may not be physical places, but I am sure we are both in Hell in our heads. I hope, like me, that he spends eternity thinking of when our loved one’s stumbled upon our limp bodies. I hope, like me, that he realises that the numbness and mental pain will never leave. I hope, like me, that he is screaming inside his head trying to escape but going insane over the impossibility. I hope, like me, that he counts up to numbers that he never even knew existed. Counting and counting and counting, forevermore.

I think of my existence as like an eternal graveyard shift. It’s quiet, it’s dark and there’s rarely anyone around. Sometimes someone might visit, but the earth above me is like a barrier making his or her words nothing more than a murmur. My mind is dark and foggy. It’s like night-time without the moon and the stars. It’s like an omnipresent ocean without the shore. It’s like a never-ending nightmare that I can’t evade.

My name is Shauna and when I was 17 my boyfriend murdered me and then killed himself. I relive it in my head daily. Forget the tragic love stories that romanticise such things, for there is nothing glamorous or beautiful about our love story. He believed release from anguish was in death, and my own messed up mind fell for that too. Now we are merely corpses in the ground, but we were dead long before we were buried. The ache we both felt inside led us not only to destroy ourselves, but each other. We were empty before death and remain empty now after death. Beneath the soil we are void. 1 coffin, 2 coffins, 3 coffins, 4 coffins, 5 coffins, 6 coffins, 7 coffins, 8 coffins, 9 coffins, 10 coffins, 11 coffins, 12 coffins, 13 coffins, 14 coffins, 15 coffins, 16 coffins, 17 coffins, 18 coffins, 19 coffins, 20 coffins…

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