The Girl Who Loved Obituaries

Photo courtesy of 123rf.com

Photo courtesy of 123rf.com

Kim looks at people and imagine what their obituary would read as. When she was a little girl, she had feared death and all things related to it. She was afraid to look at pictures of dead people. She could not look at coffins. When her mom would take her to the cemetery, she would try not to read the names on the tombstones. When she became an adult, she decided to do something about her fear. She started reading obituaries. That’s how she turned into the girl who reaches first to the obituary page of the Sunday paper.

She has written her own obituary, and it’s unlike what you usually read on the newspapers. Kim thinks it’s a pity that your last announcement in this world would just include the name of the funeral house, the date of the interment and the people who have survived you. Instead of a tearful eulogy, she wants to make sure she has a well-written obituary.

Five days a week, she answers email queries about an apparently problematic online payment system. Most of the queries have templates for answers. She oftentimes imagine what the person is like behind the email address. Is he a burly old guy who will have a funny, half-page obituary? Maybe a retired banker who will have a no-nonsense obituary, 3 or 4 lines approximately. Or it could be the old lady everyone is fond of who will have a family member write a heartwarming obituary full of recounting of her character.

On weekends, Kim tries to spend as much time with her boyfriend who works as a college instructor. He hates Kim’s obsession with obituaries because he once read a short story about a girl who reads obituaries in the bathroom when she’s menstruating because she was molested when she was a child. Kim tries to assure him she was not molested but he remains doubtful.

They had been together for almost a year. There’s nothing magical about their relationship. What they have is a comfortable companionship that lacks growth and maturity. Despite the seemingly monotonous context, Kim likes being with him. He has not had any declarations of love and has not talked about marriage plans. Kim sometimes wish he would but most of the time, she’s just content to lay in his arms listening to his deep, evenly spaced breathing.

One Sunday morning while having breakfast, they had a row when he saw Kim reading intently the obituary page.

Will you please not read that while we’re eating? Or in front of me?

Why not?

Of course, she knows quite well why not but she’s tired of defending herself.

Because it’s all about death. I think you’re getting more and more obsessed with death.

No, I’m not. Besides the headlines are full of death. How’s that different from the obituary?

It’s different and you know that. You don’t even know those dead people. Why do you care about them?

He then got up, leaving his unfinished food and went to their bedroom.

They rarely fight and she hates it when they do. She followed him to the bedroom. He was staring out the window.

I was not molested when I was a kid. I had a normal childhood. I was just really afraid of dead people. Why don’t you believe me?

I believe you. It’s just unsettling when you read those things. Why can’t you just have a hobby like normal people do?

So now you’re saying I’m not normal?

He laughed but it didn’t reach his eyes. Kim is starting to feel there was something he was not telling her. She does not like surprises and that’s why she likes him because he is predictable. He likes toast and eggs for breakfast, pizza on Fridays, classical music when he’s checking test papers and white underpants. There is definitely comfort in routine. But right now, Kim is scared that something is about to change. He could see it in his eyes.

Death is about pain and letting go. No matter how much people say it’s beautiful, you can never convince the bereaved family of that.

I’d like to think of obituaries as happy endings.

No matter how happy they are, they’re endings. I don’t want you fixated on endings. We’re still young. We’re barely starting. There’s a lot of things we haven’t done yet.

Are you breaking up with me?

She didn’t mean to say it out loud but she fears it’s what he was trying to say.

No, silly. I want us to get married.

As relief flooded through Kim, she couldn’t stop her tears.

You really shouldn’t cry. It’s not like someone died.

She hugged him hard.

You’re well aware marrying you means I get to write your obituary, right?

He smiled as he slid the ring on her finger.

I guess so.

Photo courtesy of glamour.com

Photo courtesy of glamour.com

Random Friday List

1. Internet connection at home is back, hence, order has been restored.

2. The boyfriend and I are having a kickass Friday, except I don’t have a boyfriend and I’m stuck at the office.

Photo courtesy of juanrepublic.tumblr.com

Photo courtesy of juanrepublic.tumblr.com

3. Kris Aquino is a famewhore, has a victim complex and thinks she’s all that. Wait, did I just describe myself? Seriously, her problems are not a national issue. Let’s get back to the most pressing ones and get them addressed. Hello, Sabah, Kristel Tejada, national elections?

4. I’ve noticed an increase of homeless people on my daily route from work to the train station. Most of them are kids, which just makes it all the more depressing.

5. Chinua Achebe died today. I have yet to read Things Fall Apart but I have loved No Longer At Ease, mainly because the protagonist is an anti-hero. He never got a Nobel Prize but he’s one of the greatest people who ever walked on earth, I think.

Photo courtesy of tumblr.themostinterestingmanintheworld.create

Photo courtesy of tumblr.themostinterestingmanintheworld.create

6. I’ve always looked down on office relationships but I wouldn’t mind a love story such as Chinua’s and his wife’s, which started when they were colleagues.

7. There’s this guy I have a huge crush on and I told him that we’re not friends because, as a rule, I don’t do friends. Y’know what I mean? It’s been, what, seven years, and we’re still friends with no benefits whatsoever. Yes, this is how miserable my life is.

Photo courtesy of troll.me

Photo courtesy of troll.me

8. People think that I have high standards for a guy. I don’t know how they came up with that. My glasses? My baggy pants? The only thing I require from a man is for him to genuinely like me. I wish this was a joke.

9. No matter what you say, the songs from the 90s and early 2000s are the ones I’ll never get tired listening to.

Photo courtesy of pizzaliciousblog.blogspot.com

Photo courtesy of pizzaliciousblog.blogspot.com

10. No one comes between me and pizza. And I mean, no one. But if you’re a hot bald guy, I’ll let you take a bite.

Witching Hours

Once there was a witch who lived in the outskirts of town. The townspeople were wary of her although she has not bothered anybody. She was an orphan who has learned to slay her own dragons.

One day as she was roaming the forest, she came upon a man who has fallen off his horse. He was badly hurt. Unbeknownst to her, he was a prince from a nearby kingdom. She brought him home and nursed him back to health. While the prince was staying at her home, he fell in love with the witch. He confessed to her and asked her to marry him. She said yes for she has fallen for him, too. The prince bade her goodbye with a promise to return for their wedding.

When the prince got back to the castle, everyone was overjoyed, especially the king. He asked everyone to work on the prince’s wedding. The prince told him that he is going to marry the witch, and the king said it was preposterous. They were royalty and should not marry commoners, especially, outcasts. The prince tried to reason out but the king insisted since the princess is from a kingdom much bigger than theirs; hence, a very auspicious union.

The prince, weak as he was, was convinced it was the right thing to do to marry the princess. The wedding was festive and well-attended. When the witch found out about it, she wept hard and cursed her fate. She grieved the loss of his love and tried to forget about the man who betrayed him.

Meanwhile, the prince couldn’t live with the guilt of breaking his promise to his beloved. And no matter how beautiful and kind his princess is, he could never learn to love her. On warm nights when the stars glow bright and the trees whisper the secrets of the past, he could her the laughter of the witch and he swore he could smell the scent of her hair. The prince had a recurring nightmare of riding his horse on the forest and running after a woman in a billowing red skirt. But before he could catch her, he gets thrown off the horse.

His sleepless nights started to take a toll on his health and he got ill. Upon hearing about this, the witch went to the castle and volunteered to care for him. Realizing that she was the woman his son fell in love with, the king rejected her offer and sent her away. The prince died shortly thereafter.

The witch mourned the prince’s death and after a considerable amount of time, moved on and lived a full life. She slayed her own dragons and did not wait for princes or knights on a white horse. There were nights though when the moon is bright and the stars flood the skies and if you listen closely to the rustling of the leaves, you can hear the prince asking forgiveness from the witch and telling her that she was his true princess.

Photo courtesy of bailiandi.blogspot.com

Photo courtesy of bailiandi.blogspot.com