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Call it what you will

The twenty-four day old Olivia Bennet made her family debut at her grandmother’s funeral. Nothing unites people like a common enemy and death certainly is the one we all have in common.  There were three generations of people milling around the cold corpse of a woman many of them never met more than once or in Olivia’s case not at all.

Olivia’s mother, the bereaved and beloved daughter of the deceased, Charlotte Bennet stood by her mother’s casket, cradling her newborn while accepting condolences. Her husband stood stiffly by her side, his eyes cast down, and his hands folded in front of him but still looking a bit unsure of how sad he should appear to me.

“That’s just the proper amount of mourning,” she assured her confused husband.

“She’ll always live on in our memories,” was a recurring sentiment. Charlotte wanted to ask them “Her own granddaughter will never even meet her, whose memories is she going to live on in?”

Charlotte decided against having that outburst as cathartic as it might have been.

Death is always the most subjective when it seems the most unlikely but seeing it take form in her mother's cold sallow cheeks reminded Charlotte that death isn’t something that only happens to other people. That will be her one day.

Charlotte’s mind started constructing the scene for her, mostly with details swapped from her mother’s service. After all, it would probably be much the same. Charlotte wondered if there would be as many bored children on her big day. It’s the butterfly effect some lady dies, and a bunch of kids lose a Saturday.

Charlotte went to bed making all the usual resolutions any stern reminder of your own mortality might compel a person to make. Her husband turned away was already fast asleep.  Charlotte was ok with that though. Even if this had stagnated and her mother was gone, Charlotte still had an entirely new person to develop a relationship with, and there's always something to be said for that.

Beginnings, middles, and ends. That’s what Charlotte pondered on the pillow. It wasn’t a particularly restful sleep, but sometimes around 3 am her mind tired itself out, and she drifted off. Charlotte awoke to the grey light of early morning pouring through the blinds. Something stirred by the dresser and startled Charlotte out of sleep’s haze.

“Oops sorry mom!” A blurry female figure said playfully.

Charlotte tried to scream, but she could barely muster the breath to exhale and whisper, “Who's there?”

“Aww, mom you really need your glasses!” The lightly tanned blur with dark hair giggled.

“Glasses?”

Charlotte tried to turn to her husband, but it took every ounce of will to turn her head that far, and when she did she saw a skeletal frame plastered together with a body that was held together in a necrotic husk.

Charlotte was panicking, but her body wouldn’t move accordingly.

“I gotta get going, mom. Just wanted to borrow this necklace!” Said the chipper little phantom.

“See ya later!”

The girl walked over and quickly leaned in to kiss Charlotte on the forehead and Charlotte caught a glimpse of her. Oval face, Ebony shoulder length hair, lightly bronzed skin, and ocean blue eyes framed by small glasses.  

“Wait,” Charlotte pleaded in a slow and weakening voice.

“Yeah?” The girl answered with a vivacious impatience.

“Who are you?” Charlotte asked.

The woman's pretty face wrinkled with concern. "Oh, no not doing so well today huh?"

“You," She stopped and took a breath "you were born 25 days ago,” Charlotte.

“Oh, mom,” Olivia said playfully chiding her mother.

“Welp gotta go!”

Olivia turned and walked out of the room shutting the door behind her. Charlotte struggled to get out of bed, but her tired old body couldn’t lift itself. The cries of a baby drifted into the room.

“Shhhh,” Whispered Olivia and the baby’s cries abated. Charlotte never heard them again.

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