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27th October
posted by amber


At least once a year I pretend that I am going to die. I take to my bed and stop using my inhaler, so that my breath comes ragged and laboured. I stop using rouge, so my naturally sallow skin colour provides a convincing touch of pallor. My friends gather around me, round-shouldered with concern. I don’t invite my family. They know better than to believe my imminent departure drama.

The thing is, I really will die one of these days and why should I miss out on all the final heartfelt messages, the homilies that under normal circumstances fall – literally – on deaf ears? Not to mention the borrowed money and items returned ‘before it’s too late,’ and the casseroles, my god, the casseroles. I know my daughter – she’d throw them out. I usually eat free for at least a month from the casseroles.

“Thank you, my dear,” I always say to a casserole-profferer, “I’ve been feeling too weak to cook lately and when the end comes (sniff), I want to make sure my family doesn’t have to worry about preparing meals.”

I would never tell my daughter or son-in-law this, but on occasion I’ve been offered a bit of cash to help defray the funeral expenses. I always graciously accept.

My performance usually lasts about 3 days, after which I gradually start using the inhaler again and returning artificial colour to my cheeks, preparatory to my ‘miraculous’ recovery. Friends who’ve seen this happen two or three times become dubious about the process, but there are always new friends to be made in time for next year’s deathbed scene.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story written every day and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

Thanks to my friend, Jane Steblyk, for providing this first line.

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