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Marked for Death

By Edele Winne

Coco was a small yappy black and white Shi-tzu dog with a talent for sniffing out those about to die. She had proven it eight times on dead end Mercy Street where mostly seniors lived, by camping out on the front porches of those about to expire.

As you can imagine the Mercy street residents were uncomfortable around little Coco.  Coco’s mistress, 89 year old Annabelle Coumbs, pshawed the whole business and refused to discuss it.  But everyone else did.  As the older residents passed away with Coco standing guard new younger people moved into the freshly vacant houses.  Mercy Street became an interesting mix of older and newer, seasoned and fresh, those about to die and those with long lives still ahead.

Muriel Robert was thirty one.  Because she was thirty one, she did not think about her health.  She considered herself unremarkable: short and thin with bobbed mousey brown hair.  She had smoked for six years in her teens but that was years ago.  At first she was pleased to find the charming Coco camped out on her porch, and then perturbed as she remembered the death vigil stories.  She petted Coco, who was most appreciative, and then went back into the house determined to ignore the death watch.

Maybe the dog just stopped here for a rest?  Maybe it was chasing a squirrel?  Muriel chewed at her nails.  It’s nonsense.  Coincidence.  Coco wanders everywhere and people only notice when someone passes away.  Besides, I’m thirty one!

            Muriel gave the dog a worried look and a pat on the head as she left for her evening shift at the hospital.  As a nurse she was no stranger to people dying, she’d hardened herself to it.   But now everything was different- she was looking at the possibility of her own death.  Was it going to be a car accident?  A sudden heart attack?  A crazed shooter at the hospitable or maybe even an earthquake?  She was too busy thinking such things and didn’t stop at the red light.  A dark blue pickup smashed into her passenger side and started her car spinning up onto the sidewalk. (more…)

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Candle in the Park

By Edele Winnie

It was just before Easter and she was walking down the street on one of her usual walks, trying to burn off that terrible energy that tormented her . It kept her awake, it made her smash things and sometimes behave inappropriately.

There was nothing special about the Catholic Church, it was just another one of them. She would have called it middle aged, if she’d thought about it, for it wasn’t a hundred years old and who builds churches now?

It was the sign outside that had cut her eye. All day confession, it said. For the Easter holiday. All day confession. She could not resist.

It smelled like a church- a little musty, a little like people, kind of candlely. There was a sign that said ‘confessions’ and a pointing arrow.

There was no one waiting.   The curtain to the confessional was open. She stepped inside, knelt down, closed the curtain. She had no idea what she was going to say. She waited, for she heard no sound from the other side of the wooden screen.   And then, a door, someone shuffling, someone sitting themselves down.   Did priests kneel or sit while doing their confession thing? (more…)