The Snuggly Dead

I. Evangelina thought death would be super terrible; then, she died. When they lowered the coffin into the ground, she didn’t think it was all that great at first, but eventually the walls decayed into soft mounds of rotting wood, and the soil and the worms leaked in, all pillowy and nestled under her neck and shoulders. She began to think it wasn’t so bad at all, like a late morning in a cool autumn spent under the covers, dozing in and out of consciousness, particularly when her flesh slid off her bones and decomposed in pale, folded piles of decayed matter that felt like a bundle of sheets. She found herself smiling (the teeth on her skull bared clean), as she snuggled deeper into the earth with the beetles tickling her cheeks. The whole thing was made all the more better for the fact that, thankfully, she couldn’t smell anything.

II. Tyrone, too, was really nervous about the whole death thing, particularly when they shuttled him into the fire with the automatic door of the crematorium sliding shut as the tractor belt pulled him in. The flames weren’t as mean as he’d expected; they were more like the heat from a campfire while nestled under a wool blanket with a hot cocoa full of marshmallows and cream liqueur. He found himself sighing as the warmth tickled his toes and slid up his knee caps, and when his body dissolved into dry particulates, that felt pretty nice, too, a bundled up and folded feeling, safe and protected, like collapsing upon himself in child’s pose during yoga class.

III. Arturo’s body was never found, and that was all well and good because after getting chased around by that chainsaw-wielding maniac, he could have really used a break. After a long tumble down a ravine, his head found a spot to rest by the creek bed, the milkweed and thistles having caught him before he rolled into the water. His arms and legs were somewhere in the bushes; his torso flopped in the mud under a sapling. And, sure, after screaming his soul-guts out for awhile, he was soothed by the trickling of the water over the rocks, the birdsong, and the sunshine. It was like all the vacations he’d never gotten around to taking. So he lounged, warmed by the sun and listening to the breeze. He giggled at the feet of the ants and beetles that tiptoed over him, their little pincers like kisses. (They took parts of him to live in their colonies, little chunks of flesh to nibble on, which gave him a glimpse of life better than any David Attenborough documentary he’d ever seen.) Small carnivores sniffed him at night: coyotes with their soft, wet noses; crows with their feathers brushing against his skull. Soon enough, the ivy grew over him and the soil covered the bleached surface of his bones, and he nestled in, the whisper of grubs and worms soothing him to sleep.

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