Notes From the 422nd Annual Wraiths for Writing Conference: 'Death, A Slide Presentation'




[Editor's Note: This is the latest installment of 'Notes From the 422nd Annual Wraiths for Writing Conference,' a biweekly series of story and art that artist Amelia Garretson-Persans has created for Country Life. Trace its roots by reading the previous entries.]

At a slide presentation on hidden faces around the house, our tacit presenter had finally started speaking.

“The day I died I didn’t notice it at first. It must have happened when I was walking to the store. I wandered around without feeling the passage of time and without reaching the store. The faces of the people in the street were unfamiliar to me. When night fell I tried to go home. I remember standing at my front door and feeling my key in my pocket or my purse, but it kept eluding my fingers. Sometimes I’d get a good hold on it and try to fit it in the keyhole, but it wouldn’t fit and kept falling out of my hands. In between essays I’d return to the street feeling like I was about to do something but could never remember what it was.

“At some point, I found myself at my next-door neighbor’s front door. The door was unlocked and let me right in. I was tired, so I mounted the steps to find a place to sleep. My feet felt so heavy. I was afraid I’d wake my neighbors with the sound of my dragging feet. The first bedroom I tried was empty, so I went in and sat on the bed. I put my head in my hands. They felt like cold water.

“A scream came slowly through the thick air. A little girl was in the doorway with her mouth wide open. The scream was drowned in the rising sound of rushing waters. In a sudden silence, I realized I was back on the street.”

After my sleepless night in the library, a lawnmower might have lulled me to sleep. I was no match for the gentle hum of the slide projector and our presenter’s dreamy story. I fell asleep and dreamed I was writing a letter full of nonsense words. When I woke up the seat next to me was loaded with snapped branches and fistfuls of dry grass. A scrawled note teetered uncomfortably on the rubble: “Meet me at the well at dusk.”

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