The Deaths

Ann Gelder

              At first there were three deaths: two big deaths and a small death. These deaths were well-mannered. They always called ahead before visiting, and they never talked too much or stayed too long. Their only annoying habit was a tendency to stare, but when asked if they needed something, they said no and quickly looked away.

              Also the small death sometimes ran off and hid in the coat closet for no apparent reason. It rummaged in the back, making the empty wire hangers chime.

              Then another small death arrived, and the two of them began playing together. They chased each other up the stairs, tumbled around the attic like dust bunnies. The big deaths implored them to settle down, but the small deaths didn’t listen, and the big deaths soon gave up and went home without them.

              The small deaths were out of control. They were underfoot and overhead. They jumped on the empty beds and shrieked with laughter at all hours for years on end.

              The situation seemed hopeless until one day, a really huge death crashed through the roof like a meteor and scared all the other deaths away for good.

              After that, apart from the hole in the ceiling and the enormous, silent, blinking death in the middle of the living room, everything went more or less back to normal.