Ghost Bride
Justin Lawrence Daugherty

The resurrectionist swears the dead girl has cursed him. He walks away from the highway and vomits in the grass. "You think this is the most normal thing," the resurrectionist says when he returns to the truck. He did not dig up the girl's grave for this. He does not want to know the dead girl's name. He feels movement in his lungs, along his bones. He knows there are ladybugs and aphids crawling in his body. The resurrectionist tells a woman at a truck stop that, no, I'm not a funeral director, and they both stare at his hearse and wait for change in the weather. The resurrectionist counts down the miles to the parents of the deceased bachelor. He will tell them, she is a very suitable dead girl and will match your son perfectly. He will be paid well for finding a ghost bride to send to the afterlife with their son. The resurrectionist tells the girl stories, asks her to perhaps choose to curse him with some ailment other than bouts of blindness. The resurrectionist does not want to know how she died. He does not want to be sad for her loss. He meets a nice woman, blue-and-green haired and laying out tarot cards, in a diner outside Boise. They make small talk and share French fries. She lays out the cards and they are blank and the woman is confused. The resurrectionist tells her his life is strange lately. He feels the hollow urge to howl at the sky, to chase down deer and tear meat from their bones. The woman follows him to the hearse and he begs her to leave him. She is concerned. She wants to help. The resurrectionist feels words being erased from his memory. He has trouble with the formation of sentences. He cannot tell the dead girl, I am only doing my job and my job is to match the dead so they can find happiness in the afterlife. The woman, Clara, helps him to the hearse. She decides to drive and does not ask about the coffin in back. The resurrectionist tries to tell the dead girl that he will get her to her groom. They speed down the highway and the resurrectionist tells Clara what she will need to do if he suddenly becomes a mound of teeth. He gives directions, but his words only come out in vowels. In Montana, the resurrectionist feels wrapped in strangling tentacles. Clara pulls over and says, "Maybe she does not want this." Clara pulls the coffin out of the hearse, opens the lid. The resurrectionist begs her to let him finish his job. Clara touches the dead girl's face, asks for her story. She asks what the girl wants. They wait there, an open coffin with a dead girl inside. Clara tells the girl her own sad story. The resurrectionist paces nervously and tries to take hold of the coffin to put it back where it belongs. His face becomes a blank space empty of a nose, eyes, lips, a blank piece of paper. Fingerprints melt away from his fingers.  He tugs at the coffin to put it back in the hearse and he feels his bones starting to evaporate. He pounds on the coffin and cannot move the girl. He tries to yell through his not-mouth and no one hears him and he stomps in the street waving at cars as they pass him on their way to other destinations. Clara stays with the girl, exposed, and waits for her to locate her voice.

Justin L. Daugherty's debut novel, YOU ARE ALIVE, is forthcoming from CCM.

See more of his work in the archive.

W i g l e a f               02-27-17                                [home]