Outlandish New Ways to Punish Strangers
In the months after their death, I spent afternoons in the cemetery where my parents
were buried. It was quiet and I was looking for quiet. It was also the gravestones, I
found them interesting: they’d remember us for centuries with no more information
than a couple of dates and a name. Some were lucky enough to carry over a few words,
brother or daughter or uncle, parent lover friend, someone sweet and caring and
generous and stoic, a humorous saint, a bedfellow martyr, and so on ad infinitum. This
will be how it is until our species is gone or the granite has run out or the ritual
becomes obsolete. In the end, once everything is said and done, it is but a few words
and a crinkled photograph for great-great-grandchildren to find.
This the way the world ends.
There will be no children of mine, I had thought, and my grave will be unmarked.
This was a dark time for me. I felt left, betrayed. They may not have meant to get
murdered but did they for one second consider what might happen to me if they were. I
followed them heart and soul and the trail of breadcrumbs was gone. Gone pfffft
gone—nothing, smoke rising. I could fill out the paperwork for the master’s program in
the fall—nay, I had them filled out long ago. I could file them, ship them off to my
personal friend who heads the department, spend the money, and it would be
guaranteed. I was all but in the system. However, there was only one question, the most