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Short Stories for Teachers

Already Dead (a Short Story)
By:Dennis Siluk

The Room

She is down, down in the China Cabinet; her insides, ashes, that’s all that is left of her—wood around her, and her, she´s just ashes, that´s it in a nutshell:

“Over there” —I say and point, point and say, not sure which one first: she´s just ashes, “In that China cabinet,” she´s a ghost, I suppose.

I sense she is present, here in this room, in St. Paul, Minnesota, her room, where now I have the china cabinet: I can´t be sure she is present, but I can tell exactly where her presence is. Mike, my brother, “...she talked to me yestertday...” I tell him; I can´t remember exactly what she said, told me, I tell Mike, but that is a lie, I do remember, I just say that: she told me to travel to places my heart desires, now, right now, before it is too late. I think she was saying: a live dog is better than a dead lion.Thus, if I can do it now.

I thank God, have thanked God, several times have thanked God, she had a peaceful death. My wife says, says she had the most peaceful death she had ever seen. I am so grateful to God, to Jesus for this.

“Why doesn’t she go...go Straight to heaven...?” my brother asked me. He—

“Heaven,” I say, I’m looking at the urn, wooden urn, with a butterfly on it, carved in wood, and a statue of Christ on it, carved in wood, I got in Rio de Janeiro a few years ago.

“Why does she want to stay down here?” he asks. Her physical life is over I KNOW, AND Mike is asking stupid questions, I say, not to him to myself (retorical).

I say, “For me, she stayed down here for me:” –chew on that.

—I look for mom in the shadows of he house, when Rosa is asleep: I think I find her ghost, but I know I really dont; I know God has her. Jesus,—Jesus, she believed in Jesus, but I need her around for awhile longer—so tell her, so she hears me, and if she doesn´t Jesus does, and He can get the message to her. I know she hears me, and she´s in the house. She wants to go, but if she does, she returns.

Mike stands up, pauses by the urn, sullen, adrift. My voice is thin, it has been since she died, died, died, I hate that word, but it is appointed to each person, like it or not. And so my voice is thin, thoughts appear to me, ‘I’m Fine She tell me.’ She had a peacefull death; Rosa says so and, and I saw it happen, kind of, for 30-days visiting her in the hospital, and then, then death, it was peaceful. She says: “I’m fine...Ok with it.” She was, but I was not. I suppose I am now, I told Jesus...it was alright to take her, after 30-days of seeing her at the hospital, and—well, she wasn´t getting much better. Rosa says she had a peaceful death, and so she did.

The muscles in my face are sore: sore from crying, grieving, it´s funny how a face can stretch, get contorted when it grieves. Rosa knows my face is sore, I doubt Mike does. He´s pacing the floor now, looks back at the urn—it’s fornoon, a few days after the wake. We were filling out paper work, lots of paperwork when someone dies in America. Insurance, funeral, etc. I can´t really, not really do a thing worthwhile, not a damn thing—

wish I could, but I cant, maybe dont want to, what for...Rosa wants me to see a doctor, Doctor Sullwold, at the VA Hospital, depression I think; but I never get depress, that is, I never did, I suppose I am...I suppose I´ve lost my ability to function normally, whatever normal is. Today for me normal is to feel sad, maybe be depressed. Am I suppose to be happy? Some say Christians should celebrate when a loved one dies, but hell with that, I dont, dont, dont want to and wont. I am exhaused now, Mike passes me again, walks to the kitchen, to the bathroom, a bird at the window is watching us, maybe not us, maybe just me....

Mother Calls

This time Rosa is sleeping, clinging to the side of the bed, hitting it now and then, I normally can hear her, when I am up—I can hear it from the living room and dinning room, kind of know she´s all right. Today she is sleeping in the bed, side of the bed and I’m by her side, was by her side, when we went to bed last night, she somehow got on the other side of the bed, the side you can fall off of. It is three weeks now since the wake. My muscles were still sore when I went to bed

—they crept into the garage (I assumed later on it was ´they,´not one person): they crept into the garage, which is attached to the house and found a broom, a few brooms, and other wooden handled items, put them together in a nice little circle, leaned them against a wooden cabinet where tools are kept, and lit it on fire, too, they poured gas from one side of the two car garage to our car but the fire did not take hold completly. It was lit now, and Rosa and I were asleep, Rosa on the edge of the bed, the fire went most out, but there were bright ashes left, as if they were looking toward that tool cabinet, and if so it would have found its way to the ceiling and then the whole house (so the Fire Captain confirmed.)

Rosa was woken up, finding (as she opened the bedroom door, 10:15 AM), the house filled with smoke, and the garage likewise, and the brooms scortched, and the ashes, with eyes of fire...she woke me up, and grabbed a wet towel, putting out the fire, and thus, airing out the house and garage.

“Fire, fire,” she had yelled to wake me up. I was in a drift, not sure where I was.

“How the hick did you get up?” I asked.

“Someone woke me up,” she explained. It would had taken only a few more minutes had my wife not been woken, and the house would had burned down. But what voice was it, whoes voice? It was my mother’s voice, or so I believe, who elses? Is what I told her, there was no one else in the house, and I was too deep into sleep to have noticed an earthquake. I said to Rosa,

“It was my mother, do you believe me now?” not that she ever doubted me.

“I never said I didn´t believe you,” she commented.

The Urn

“It still hurts mom!” I told her looking at the urn— I come to this urn every day and tell to you: say, good night, good morning (I think once she told me to throw her ashes over into the river and go on with my life, I think she said that, but then I said, maybe she didnt´t, or maybe that is what I did not want her to say, and added my own little doubt into the equation). I guess that is love. Anyhow, I go on to bed, lay down, wake up, you don´t have to sleep I know. I wonder if She found Earny (her old boyfriend for 40-years, who died 10-years before her).

This grieving process is for the birds, it is like pulling out your guts slowly, slowing pulling-them out and forcing yourself to look at them at the same time.

Afterward Already Dead

I´ve learned life is letting go—as you go from day to day, as you go down hill. IN the valley you got to grab on to the moment, and eat some sweets. And then up yuo go back up the mountain, shoulder and spine, sweat from the braw, step by step, up the hill to new beginnings. It’s all part of life I guess, all three parts. I suppose if there is a secret it is in not getting stuck in any one of the three parts too long. In a way we are already dead, but I suppose we call it: getting ready, but the moment will arrive, ready or not.

The house is quiet now, mom left, she’s with Jesus, I told her I was ready to let go, and so go she did. And I’d, -- I’d see her later, that´s what I told her, she like me, I´m sure have things to do, but it had to be done, I had to let her know it was alright.

Note: Written in four hours during our 6 1-2 hour ride, while on a bus (going through the Andes) from Lima, Peru to Huancayo, 10/18/05; revised and edited in Huancayo.

See Dennis' web site: http://dennissiluk.tripod.com

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