THE “SHE” CHRONICLES, EPISODE THREE | #FlashbackFriday

21 Comments#FlashbackFriday, Blogfests, Creative Writing, The "She" Chronicles

Welcome to the third edition of FLASHBACK FRIDAY, where old posts are given new life!

THE "SHE" CHRONICLES, Episode Two | #FlashbackFriday

Flashback Friday, hosted by Michael G. D’Agostino of A Life Examined, is a monthly blogfest, occurring on the last Friday. Michael’s directive: “Republish an old post of yours that maybe didn’t get enough attention, or that you’re really proud of, or you think is still relevant etc.” Please add your link to the list at the end of the post if you’d like to join in.

THE “SHE” CHRONICLES

(A series of vignettes, using third person narrative by she who shall remain nameless.)

Episode Three
(Originally published February 2014►)

This is a direct continuation of Episode Two

wrecked carAfraid to look at the car, yet consumed by a morbid curiosity, her eyes swept over the smashed body and peered inside. Bloodied glass everywhere. His blood! The news broke that very day. After lingering in the hospital for several hours, he succumbed to his injuries. A night of drunken carousing and life was over at age 21. How fortunate for her they had parted ways the month before. She could well have been a passenger in that vehicle of death! Ironically, she was just learning to drive. It affected her state mind and fuelled a burning need to see the wreckage.

There would be two days of visitation, followed by a Catholic funeral mass, then interment. This was her first brush with death and the grief overwhelmed her. She couldn’t face going to the funeral home alone and enlisted a friend to lean on. According to rumours, the family had insisted on an open casket, despite the severity of his injuries. Hard to find a sombre outfit! It was 1971 and her wardrobe was full of mini skirts and hot pants. That black maxi skirt in the back of the closet would have to do. Knees trembling, stomach tight; she waited for her friend to collect her.

casket and flowersAs they entered the visitation room, she could feel all eyes boring into her. Some people were whispering and she guessed what they were saying. “That’s the slut he was involved with.” Older generation Italians didn’t take kindly to outsiders and she wasn’t even Catholic – the ultimate sin! Her friend gripped her arm and muttered: “Ignore them!” Shaking now. They slowly made their way to the casket. He was wearing his best dark blue suit, with a white shirt and striped tie. She’d never seen him in a tie before. This was the era of colourful printed shirts and open collars. On closer inspection, she realized the hair was a wig. Yes, it was black, but a different style! The face was barely recognizable under heavy makeup. Feeling sick and trying not to faint, she leaned in a little closer, then recoiled in horror! Part of his nose was missing, the side facing the mourners propped up by toothpicks. She stifled a scream and embraced her friend. “Please get me out of here.”

~~~~~

That spectre haunted her for years. She refused to attend any more visitations, until decades later when a close friend passed away. His was a peaceful death and there was nothing to fear,  yet the feeling of horror returned. Visions of a broken face from long ago swam before her eyes and they filled with tears.

©D.D.B. 2014/2015/2016

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Canine Innkeeper in suburban Toronto, Canada, known as “The Doglady”. Writer/website owner, photographer, animal lover, music fanatic, inveterate traveller. History, literature and cinema buff. Eternal “hippie/rockchick”. Binational, German/Canadian and multilingual. Looking for the next adventure!

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21 thoughts on “THE “SHE” CHRONICLES, EPISODE THREE | #FlashbackFriday

  1. I had last year while writing a blog post, had visualized myself in the casket. Trust me, it was scary and sad. beautifully narrated. I could sense the pain. heartbreaking indeed.

  2. No, I don’t do open caskets. In fact my immediate family so far hasn’t done anything other than scattering ashes in weird places. It was beautifully written, though – very powerful.
    I don’t do horror either. Still can’t get the face at the window of the hospital in American Werewolf in London out of my mind.

    1. I like the idea of scattering ashes. Seems more sentimental and practical, too! Thank you so much for that high praise. Makes my day! 😀 I’ve been thinking of writing a few more of these and gathering them into a book. The horror genre doesn’t appeal to me either.

  3. It is heartbreaking to see someone dear in such conditions. I can’t imagine the pain and suffering of those left behind. Nothing prepares us to deal with loss. Take care.

  4. Everyone has different ideas about funerals and burial options, even in my family, we are split many times over on the subject. I guess for some, the open casket is a last chance to see that person, though every one I’ve ever been too didn’t feel that way to me. People never looked the same once they are gone. I was troubled for a while as a kid after attending the open casket service for a person I never knew but was told that he was my grandfather. Sometimes, I feel like what helps one person grieve and move on, traumatizes another.
    Great Flashback Friday post and a continuation to this emotional story.

    1. The Italian custom, at least where I live, is to have two or three days of visitation with an open casket, so people can say “goodbye”, followed by a closed casket funeral mass. It is traumatic, especially when there are visible injuries. With the exception of one close friend, I have steadfastly refused to attend any more visitations. Thank you for your thoughts. I hope that troubling image of your deceased grandfather didn’t cause you any lingering after effects.

  5. You know in the Deep South, or in Georgia, where I was born they usually open the casket also. That can be a good or bad thing. For some people, it is the absolute horror.

    I looked at the film Rosemary’s baby when that came out. It took me years to wipe that out of memory. Even now, I don’t go to horror movies. I can’t deal with them or read horror books.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Patricia

    1. It definitely wasn’t a good thing, in this case, Pat. Rosemary’s baby was a chilling movie! I’m not a huge fan of the horror genre either. Thanks for dropping in and have a great week.

  6. Awful! I don’t understand the open casket either. And yes, I do have memories that have haunted me all my life but I can’t talk about them. It is probably a good idea if we do, however.

    1. The visitation is sort of like a wake, where the corpse is in full view, so people can say goodbye. Not a great idea, in cases of severe injuries. 🙁 Talking or writing about painful memories can be cathartic. I find using third person narrative offers a modicum of detachment. You shared so many painful memories in your book, Carol. I can’t imagine even worse ones!

  7. How horrible to have to go through something so sad especially with the comments being made unfairly about you. I have a memory of a grown man, his eyes glazed over as if possessed by some evil force, fixated on me. Sensing danger, I let him know that my mom and her girlfriend were outside. he stopped and told me twice, under his breath to get the hell away. The next time I saw that look was done by an actor, Brian Dennehy, when he was playing the role of John Wayne Gacy

    1. It was a traumatic experience; that’s for sure! Your encounter sounds chilling! I can imagine you would see that face in your dreams. Thank goodness you sensed the danger.

  8. Hi, Debbie the Doglady!

    I well remember part one of this story. I am very sorry that you had to endure all that unpleasantness, which included gazing at the blood stained interior of the smashed car, survivor’s remorse knowing that you could have been in the vehicle when it crashed, the scrutiny and disapproving whispers of people in the visitation room, and especially having to see what was left of your ex-boyfriend’s face. That’s a bell that cannot be unrung, a grotesque sight that is burned into your memory and will haunt you. Why on earth did the family insist on an open casket for a person mutilated in an auto crash?

    Thank you, dear friend Debbie. Have a safe and happy weekend!

    1. “Burned into your memory” is a good way to describe it, Shady. Even after all these years, I still had a hard time writing about it, hence the third-person narrative. That allowed for a modicum of detachment. It is common practice among the Italians I know to have an open casket during the visitation period, which typically lasts two or three days. I’m not sure why the family insisted on it in this case, as the injuries were so severe. Perhaps they weren’t expecting people to look so closely? Thanks for your comments and have a great week!