The Shutterfly Edition
The young reporter’s first job
was editing the obituaries.
For the elderly,
they were celebrations of life;
for the young,
they were a mourning
for all the life
they could have lived.
Paige Bookbinder wasn’t much of a public speaker
(privately, she rocked it),
but the words she put to paper
would endure longer
than the voice in which she spoke them.
Learning to overcome her fear of speaking
in front of a group of any size
would enrich her life now,
even as the words she’d leave behind
for others to read in their own minds
would ensure her legacy.
Her authorship had once meant something,
but when she worked for the one
who only cared if she was the subject,
she realized that she had to write something
someone else would be compelled
to write about it.
The Shutterfly edition
He was a movie star,
she, a stage actress.
life was a series of endless retakes,
for her, endless rehearsals.
He wanted his performances
to be seen by the masses,
They each sought to be remembered
through those who would enjoy him in the spirit,
through those who had enjoyed her in the flesh.
He had the knack
for making money,
even as his wife
had the know-how for raising it,
but when he got all mixed up
with “the other woman”
who only knew how to spend it,
he fathered the child
who left him spent.
Her face graced the covers
of every magazine,
his disgraced the front page
of every newspaper,
but when one saw beyond
her made-up looks
& scripted lines,
when they saw beyond
taken out of context,
& his works—
the intents of which
the reasonable person
that just as there was money
in building her up
to the point of deification,
there was just as much money
in tearing him down
to the point of demonization.
When the fog settled over the Gulf Coast
for days that seemed to run together
like a week of binge-watching,
life was like walking through a dream
in varying filters.
It was that last day in the middle of the night—
before the fog lifted—
that the 3 boys came to her door.
Their frightened faces had been framed
in the frosted oval glass,
& their owlish eyes had looked sickly
in the illumination of the orange streetlight.
They said that the Londoners had taken their parents
& spoiled everything.
She chastised herself for opening the door
for what if they’d been followed?
And it was when she thought to look back
that she realized her family had disappeared
the second she had opened that door,
just as she was here
because someone else wasn’t.
When he was alive,
she slept to escape him through dreams,
but when he died,
he haunted those dreams,
& she became an insomniac who,
from sleep deprivation,
began to see his reflection in every window
& imagine his presence behind every door.
Famous writers haunted ghostwriters,
cases were tried by the judges perfected in Christ,
& the scientists who’d practiced the healing arts on Earth,
imparted their knowledge from Heaven—
even as those who’d passed on ages before
were able to witness the wonders of humankind
while living in the presence of the wonder of God.
Funerals were truly a celebration of one’s mortal life,
& grief became a thing of the past.
There was no moving on,
for to see & hear their loved ones was enough
to make up for the loss of the other 3 senses;
this new way of life & death helped keep their memory alive,
even as new conversations with the departed
were being had.
Where there had been faith,
there was now knowledge,
save for those who believed that man had never walked the moon.