How You Will Die

How You Will Die

Your airplane crashes.

You’re the only survivor. You’re in shock, dazed, bleeding from a terrible cut in your head, have a broken leg, but you crawl out of the smoking wreckage. You were always scared of flying. You see a torn teddy bear and reach out to hold it. An asteroid falls to the ground and crushes you. 


You’re locked outside your apartment you realize when you come home at 3am in the morning. You curse and swear and you don’t want to call a locksmith because you don’t have three hundred dollars to spend and so you sleep in the hallway. The neighbor mistakes you for her stalker and she throws a pot at you and as you stumble around trying to figure out what happened you fall down the stairs. She comes after you hitting your head with a cast iron skillet, the one you let her borrow for her dinner party the other night. She made steak and you flirted with her best friend. Is that what this is about?


You’re straining on the toilet. You have a brain aneurysm. More common than you think.


You go for a run. You’re in the hills far from other humans. You have a spiritual experience. You feel God talking to you. He says, Hey, what’s up? You feel a horrible pain in your leg. You hear a rattle and the snake disappears into the brush. You calmly but with purpose start to walk back to the trailhead. The oil pumps are going up and down rhythmically. You stop to catch your breath. A deep warmth mixed with pain is spreading to your upper thigh and whole body. It’s night. You realize you’re lost. You lie down just for a second and when you open your eyes you see a shooting star. You were supposed to go out with friends tonight to look at the shooting stars. You keep your eyes open for as long as you can.


Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to wear this suit of armor and walk down to the beach. It was fun this suit of armor you found in the attic and you were going to entertain the kids. It’s important that the kids be entertained. But the kids aren’t at the beach because this ferocious thunderstorm appeared and now you’re stuck in the sand in this suit of armor. The waves are coming in. Another flash of lightening comes awfully close. It’s beautiful the ocean in a thunderstorm.  But it’s hard to move in the wet sand. You trip and fall and the waves carry you out. This is absurd, you think. Absolutely absurd.


You can’t remember. It comes in flashes, in waves. You made her promise that she would smother you with a pillow if it every came to this but you don’t remember this promise. Now she just follows you around with a pillow and when you wake up one morning you see her peering over you, her knuckles white from holding the pillow so tightly. 


Run your pockets, he says.

What? you say, not hearing.

Run your pockets, he says.

You’re drunk and you don’t have any money.

He pulls out a gun. What, do you want to get shot? he says.

Fuck you, you say, though you admire the phrase, Run your pockets.

You should write it down, you think, as he pulls the trigger.


The couch came from nowhere. From nowhere I mean right above him. Someone had pushed the couch out the window and I yelled at the man as it fell down on top of him. What a horrible way to go, you think, as the sinkhole opens up on Third Avenue and swallows you.


You love dogs. You pet them. You look at them. You remove the muzzle of that one dog who just needs to be loved. Yeah, he just needs some good old-fashioned love. You act all tough but really oh my sweet Jesus that hurts let go of me now you bastard dog.


The house is ready. You’ve taped the windows even though people say you shouldn’t tape the windows. You got a lot of conflicting information but you’re in the bathroom now which doesn’t seem like the safest place really because there’s a window. You’re in the tub with your roommate Casey. You moved to the Midwest after seven years in New York City and you wanted to buy a house and not spend a fortune on groceries. You have a crush on your housemate Casey but that’s not a good idea so you sit in the tub and ask her how things are. The power goes out. The house is shaking. She starts to scream and you ask her what’s wrong and she points at your face and you look in the mirror and there is a fork sticking out the side of your head. As you go to pull it out—is that a good idea?—the steak knives come flying for you.     


For your last meal you choose a cheeseburger, fries, and chocolate shake, even though you don’t really like fries. You think about this as you eat them. Everyone loves fries but I really don’t I just don’t enjoy them but you always feel obligated to get fries with a burger because everyone does that and when you put in your order they asked if you wanted fries with that and you said No. This was going to be the time you took a stand against fries but they gave you fries anyways. You realize all your life you’d been doing things expected of you. You didn’t have to kill that man but your best friend asked you to so you did. You didn’t want to upset him and now you’re here eating your last meal holding a French fry and cursing it’s existence.


You make pizza with your girlfriend. It smells delicious. You had some trouble rolling out the dough but in the end you got it even though it wasn’t so even. You argue about the toppings. She wants capers but you think capers won't add the right flavor. Later, when she thinks about that night, she realizes the last thing you said before you sliced open your thigh with the pizza cutter when it slipped and you hit an artery and bled out before the ambulance could get there is, I’m just not a huge fan of capers. And she hated the tone of your voice when you said that and for a second, just a second, a split second that happens to all of us, she wished you were dead.


You are waiting for the subway train. You peer over the ledge, inching close to the yellow line that the voice on the speaker always says to avoid. You’re late. You need that train. You wonder if being late defines your whole life. Procrastinating. Being late to things. You worry that you’ll never change. As the train comes into the station your sense of relief that the train has arrived and that you might make it to work on time becomes fear as you feel two hands from behind push you on the track in front of the train and a voice scream, I choose you.


You’re riding your bike. You go up Sixth Avenue. A bus cuts you off, nearly running you over. A dumpster truck turns suddenly. A woman steps out right in front of you. You avoid all these obstacles and park your bike and lock it up. You go to your desk and sit down. You have a heart attack. No one notices you’re dead. One of your co-worker has a conversation with you and doesn’t notice but she once called you the strong and silent type and takes your silences as judgment so she goes to revise that report she’s due to give you. That night, the cleaners clean around your body. You’re the last one here, your co-worker shouts as he passes by your office. You sit all night.

You’re here early, your boss says. Why are the lights off?

Your 10am appointment comes around and he sits in there and talks and talks and says he'll take the job and that he can't wait to hear from you. Your boss comes back in and says, Just wanted to say what a terrific job you're doing in general. A co-workers asks if you want lunch. No? Okay, fine. Your body falls off the chair and rests beside the trash can. 

The cleaning ladies ask your boss and she says to take your body out with the trash. It's just easier this way. Your boss has your IT guy put your out-of-office on. He’s gone on an indefinite vacation, the out-of-office says.

They hire someone else.

Your body ends up in a landfill. It decomposes. A flower sprouts out of your body. The chemicals in your decomposing body reacted with the trash and there was some dirt and a flower sprouted. If you were alive you’d laugh and celebrate the beauty of life. You'd think, it's okay. Death is okay. There's a flower growing out of me. Isn't that nice? But you're dead. So you can't think that. But it's a nice flower. No one's really around to see it except the birds that pick at the trash and they all agree it's a very nice flower, especially for a landfill.