Tuesday, January 7, 2014

One-Hundred Obituaries

Angela Lansberry passed away at two o’clock in the morning on a Thursday. Her husband did not permit her to smoke in the house; her desire to light up within the confines of the dwelling that she helped pay for was a constant source of contention between them. Angela was young, only twenty-eight, and had been married for about two years, yet she was already looking for a way to escape her marriage. She did love her husband somewhat, although not particularly strongly, for Luke (that was his name) was a peculiar man prone to silence and stoicism, which suited her just fine most of the time, since she herself was quiet and withdrawn. They both wore a lot of dark clothing and drank a lot of coffee. Luke was a professor of philosophy at the University of Cincinnati while Angela drifted in-between jobs. She had been a secretary at a law firm, a waitress, a telephone operator. Before her untimely demise, she had made a habit of attending a writing workshop on Ludlow Street, for Angela had decided to put her BA in English to use and become a writer. The hardest part, she felt, was finding something to write about. It was hard to have a voice. It was hard to have an opinion.
            Minutes before her death, Angela exited her house, pack of cigarettes in hand, and stood for a moment on her front porch. The neighborhood was quiet, a nice mixed income suburb, although one did hear gunshots every so often from the nearby low rent homes. The houses across the street were nearly identical, varying only in color. A light was on in the house directly across from hers, and she could see a man in front of a computer screen. She had never talked to this man; he was quiet, reserved, slightly unfriendly. She liked to think that he was writing a novel, doing important work, and that one day perhaps they would be contemporaries. Luke was gone, kept away by his hours. She was lonely, feeding off of fumes and wayward ambitions, but that was okay. The concrete steps leading up to the porch glistened in the moonlight, slick and wet in the humid air. She felt cold and drew her sweater around her.
            As she sat and smoked, a big white car rolled slowly down the road, a mammoth Cadillac, its subwoofers booming like the heartbeat of a monster. Angela had never seen such a car, shining and magnificent in the paleness of the night, rims spinning like a hypnotist’s tool, silver, reflecting light. Its windows rolled down revealing darkness billowing smoke. It called out to Angela, this darkness, called her names in some foreign tongue, and though she recognized the harshness of the voice, she was lulled by it, sitting calmly on her steps, smoking her forbidden cigarette. The light in the house across from her flickered out; the novel was complete, the great work finished. Angela thought of her own white pages waiting inside. The car was still paused before her home. She could go back inside or she could enter the vehicle. I want something to write about, whispered Angela, looking at the white car and hearing the voice grow thick and smooth as apple butter. What have I ever done with my life? she asked, the glistening concrete steps beckoning. Something spat out of the darkness of Cadillac; Angela stood and was caught by it, reeled in as though pulled by a string, her black boots clacking on the street. The house behind her was dark, empty, silent, and stoic. It was full of white pages.

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