Excerpt from “You Only Live Once”, a Horror Story

“What they don’t tell you is what it feels like not to die.

They don’t tell you that the casket isn’t actually padded; that there’s only a bit of cushion under your head and shoulders, and that’s for your family to feel better, not you. You’re supposed to be dead.

They don’t tell you that the backs of your clothes will be cut away, and that you’re not so much wearing them as being covered by them, like lying under a quilt whose pieces are unattached. No one worries about decency, or dignity for that matter, when it comes to dead guys.

There’s no such thing as comfort, when you’re supposed to be dead. Take me: my left leg is broken just under the knee, because by the time they found my body it had stiffened oddly to the side. It’s all in how you fall, see, and it’s hard to worry about the convenient alignment of your body when you’re trying not to die in the first place. They cracked the bone to make it lie neatly in the casket, in case an inquisitive relative (nosey, they said, because they didn’t know I was listening) should happen to peep under the closed end of the box. They want you to look like you’re just resting, like even if you were able to get out, you’d still be there because it’s just so damned comfy.

No one sleeps like this: body ramrod straight, arms on chest, hands twined together. When you go to bed tonight, try it, then tell me if it’s how you’d want to spend eternity.

God, I hope I wink out before eternity.

At least now they’ve stopped fussing at me. I wouldn’t have thought myself a prudish person in life, but somehow when you know that you’re being stripped out of your soiled clothes and laid out, naked, to be washed by strangers, you develop sudden surprising shynesses. You try to remember whether you showered the morning she killed you, and whether or not you wore clean socks. It becomes paramount that the rubber-gloved attendant now seeing to your final needs not be embarrassed or disgusted on your behalf.

That’s not how you’d be remembered, if you could have a say. If they could hear you.”

– from You Only Live Once, a short horror story by Stefanie N Snider.
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