Nina's Stillwater Calendar

Monday, February 5

Morbid Imaginations

I have an overactive imagination. I mean every girl dreams of being a princess or Wonder Woman or something. But I get so immersed I actually get disoriented when I come back to reality. Like imagining I am in space in free-fall and then remembering gravity in time to notice myself falling over. So when both my brothers and a male cousin died in short succession, my imagination took a predictably morbid turn and I began imagining new and creative ways my family members could die.

I had to fixate on something to give my imagination some structure and limitation. Otherwise I would wind up imagining some way my entire family could be on the same doomed plane at once and then where would I go? I can't top that. So I fixated on two rules: only male relatives die and only one at a time in unrelated circumstances. I could have fixated on their common age instead of their gender, but then I would be fair game and an exciting death is only exciting if you are around afterwards. I could have fixated on both, but then I would have only had 3 cousins to knock off, besides my husband. Not enough "scope for the imagination."*

I started with my dad (sorry daddy, I love you) and chainsaw accidents. Those could get wonderfully gory. But then the story I would tell afterwards would lack punch. "Equipment malfunction" wasn't a romantic way to go as Anne Shirley might say. I also realized I missed out on all the dramatic possibilities with my brothers' deaths. Those involved quiet, early-morning phone calls or hospital visits. There was no opportunity for hysterics or dramatic soap-style announcements. I would learn of daddy's demise from the news, with lots of people, like extras in a movie, waiting around for my dramatic moment.

The perfect newsworthy end for my daddy was to be shot, once in the heart, by an unsympathetic criminal. As an added bonus, there would be the drama of a trial. At the end of which the criminal would be sentenced to death and, as the heroine, I would forgive him and ask that his life be spared. Of course, I didn't really want my daddy's killer to live, so he would have to suicide. The perfect ignominious end.

Unfortunately, I was left alone with my mom at the end every time. I tried killing her too (innocent bystander?) but the rules specified male relatives only, so I was stuck with her. And I don't think I'd love my parents as much if they didn't have each other to call and harass and fuss at. I decided daddy had to live.

Next I tried killing my husband. I had run out of my best ideas with daddy and was left with car accidents. How pedestrian (lame pun intended). I should have tried exploding computer monitors. That is how he used to joke about dying. It wasn't the bizarre and accidental death so much as the aftermath that was problematic here. I figured I would lay in bed for at least three months eating chocolate ice cream and watching reruns of Buffy. That was not exactly the romantic heroine image I wanted to cultivate. In fact, it was a little pathetic.

The only people left on my list were one grandfather, three cousins, and an uncle. I am only close to one of my cousins and, after my brothers, even that is anti-climactic. Given the lack of raw material to work with, I didn't even make a respectable effort at killing him. So ended my sad career as an armchair psychopath.

* Quote is from Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

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