by Len Kuntz
EVEN FOR HER, the bedroom is a haunt too potent, and so the dead girl never goes there. Instead she glides through other walls, occasionally knocking over a mop bucket or flowerpot just to hear sounds that aren’t screams.
The dead girl studies framed photos hanging on rusty nails. The people featured on the other side of the glass appear ghoulish, or what earthbound people might call beautiful and glossy.
To block out the constant scroll of screams, the dead girl implants a coffee grinder inside her skull, the churning and whir of it effective enough.
Some days she ventures out to the backyard, floating through the hydrangeas and blueberry bushes, noting the tree swing’s frayed ropes, the scorched lawn below it. She tries to remember her shoes dragging there, creating a friction of her own choosing, but her recollection is stuck on only one thing, the act that happened habitually.
After several weeks, the family finally returns. Shiny SUV pulling up to the curb. Twin boys popping out from the backseat. A wife from the front. But no husband or father.
That’s when the screams overpower the coffee grinder’s raucous noise. Screams with a forever tongue, a forever timbre. Screams that rattle the dead girl’s sense of purpose and mission.
Frantic, the dead girl slings rocks, breaking one window after the other so that now the twins are screaming as well, ducking and taking false cover near some shrubs that skirt the stairs to the house.
The wife’s forlorn expression has been replaced by a mixture of fright and bewilderment. Even more so, she’s astounded to see the urn she’s been holding snatched away by a fluff of air, the urn sailing through the sky, then out of sight, taken to the town dump where the ashes pour out like the sin of men being set on fire.
Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State and the author of five books, most recently the personal essay collection, THIS IS ME, BEING BRAVE, out now from Everytime Press. You can find more of his writing at: