The dead girl wrote, “Make them see.” And after the mortician obeyed, they saw. The mother screamed. The priest made the sign of the cross. The father balled up his fists and went red and threatened to sue, which made sense because the mortician’s only task had been to put things right and make the dead girl as she was in life so that all could come to mourn properly. Proper mourning meant gazing at the dead girl and weeping and and saying what a shame she was so young she had everything going for her. The mortician had considered this as he read the note, its three words penned with razor precision, like the cuts running along the dead girl’s belly, breasts, thighs. Some were years healed, raised and puckered scars now, stretching the still baby-smooth skin of the dead girl; five were fresh and pink. All charted similar secrets and stories, truths to be tucked away from mothers and priests and fathers. She was such a happy young thing, they would say. They might have said this if the mortician had worked his usual magic, if he had dressed and bathed the dead girl, kissed her cheeks with pale pink brush strokes. They would have said what a tragedy if the mortician had not counted every line and redrawn each on her lips, forehead, temples, decorating her with visible pain. They would have blotted tears and self-soothed and wondered why—only if the mortician’s cuts had not cleaved into the dead girl’s soul, setting free all the words: alone, afraid, aching. But the dead girl wanted them to see, and so they did, because although the mortician was only a bent and balding man with a cabinet of chemicals and a sack of skills and a pending lawsuit, the dead girl knew what he wasn’t: not family, not friend, not a teller of lies.
Christina Dalcher is a theoretical linguist living in the American South. Recognitions include Bath Flash Award’s Short List, nominations for Best of the Net and Best Small Fictions, and second place in Bartleby Snopes’ 2016 Dialogue-Only Contest. Laura Bradford represents Christina’s novels, which feature a sassy and stubborn phonetician with anger management issues. When she’s not writing, Christina teaches flash fiction at The Muse Writer’s Center in Norfolk, Virginia.