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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 23: 28 April 2024
Microfiction: 385 words
By Louella Lester

Reading the Dead


Dana’s reading the newspaper, well, not the whole thing, just the obituaries, though she’s not likely to see anyone she knows, mainly because most people don’t even place notices there anymore, opting for the funeral home announcements and the power of social media, which replaced the papers and word-of-mouth long ago. So, she doesn’t really know why she bothers.

Maybe it’s because her mom and dad read them in their old age, keeping her informed about distant cousins and old neighbours who had passed on. Now that her parents are gone she has no other way of keeping up. Her social media friends aren’t really connected to her past hometown life.

Perhaps it’s simply about getting older and wanting to feel better that she’s lasted, is still alive and kicking, while others disappear. There’s some satisfaction in seeing an ex-boyfriend, especially one who really broke her heart, gone before her, the victim of a heart attack. Ha! Or a snotty beautiful school classmate, struck dead by lightning, her photo showing skin creased with wrinkles, more so than those on Dana’s rather plain face.

Or it could just be wallowing in the old-age-misery-loving-company thing. Or just curiosity. Or...

No, no, she tells a friend, it’s looking for the off-chance that someone will take the reins from the funeral home or newspaper obituary writers, throw caution to the wind, give the readers something different, exciting, or new about these people who lived lives.

Something like:

Mary Witty, 76, sold her house, against her children’s wishes after her husband died, and spent the money rotating from fancy hotel to fancy hotel, hosting fully-catered parties for close friends, as well as those she’d just met at the hotel bar, and died the same day she used up the last bit left in her bank account.

Bob Still, 94, came out as gay, to his now ex-wife, at the age of 82 and, a year later, met a young 76-year-old man online, the love of his life, and married him months later.

Brody Sully, Jr., 43, gave up medicine, after his domineering father, Dr. Brody Sully, Sr. passed away, and toured the world with a heavy metal band that he’d admired in his youth, then died when a stage lighting system collapsed.

Something to give Dana hope.

Louella Lester
Issue 23 (April 2024)

is a writer/photographer in Winnipeg, Canada; author of Glass Bricks (At Bay Press, April 2021); a contributing editor at New Flash Fiction Review; and has a story selected for Best Microfiction 2024. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in Bright Flash, Cult.Magazine, The Dribble Drabble Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Gooseberry Pie, The Hooghly Review, The Odd Magazine, Paragraph Planet, South Florida Poetry Journal, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, and a variety of other journals and anthologies.

Author’s blog: Through Camera & Pen

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