All the Men are Dead

Chapter One

I sighed, packing my things in my backpack.

“Where am I gonna go?” I asked.

“Snowden is going to take you to the movies.”

Snowden was my mom’s sister. She was nice, at least for the standards of my family.

I looked at my mom, who was stuffing money in her brown leather bag. Her long brown hair was down and she was wearing these high-top sneakers that I was pretty sure were mine. I would have thought she was insane if I had met her on the street in a crowd of normal people.

Mom sighed as she walked to the coat rack. “Grace, it’s time to go.”

We took a taxi to my Aunt Snowden’s house in Brooklyn from ours in Manhattan. Aunt Snowden was much closer to me than anybody was, including my mother.

“Snowden!” I screamed as I slammed the taxi door and rushed to hug my aunt. She had her blond hair in curlers and she wore tight jeans and a clean white shirt with a blue sweater jacket over it. She was, to my mother’s disgust, wearing sandals.

“Hi, Grace!” 

I hugged her and she smiled at me. 

“Hey, Natalie. Are you ready?” Aunt Snowden smiled.

“Yep, she’s ready.” My mom smiled, scratching the side of her head.

“Then come on!” Snowden said. She led us to her car, and we realized that it probably wasn’t going to get us anywhere. The car was a faded cream color, and it had blobs of red and green paint on it. It had a large crack in the window, and it looked like it had a flat tire.

“Shall we?”  Snowden beamed.

“Uh… sure,” I said.

Snowden beamed and opened the driver’s seat door, sitting down. I gave my mom a long hug. I plopped down in the passenger seat, shut the door with a bang, and, after buckling our seatbelts, Snowden drove off.


Chapter Two

During that car ride, I thought a lot. Aunt Snowden didn’t talk much, but that was okay.

Why was mom letting Snowden take me to the movies? She had never done it before. Maybe she was changing. Well, any case, I was relieved to have some time off from her.

Would you like to learn the detailed story-of-my-life? Okay, but remember that you asked.

When I was born, my mother didn’t want me. No, wait—can I restart? Okay.

All of my family members are a little insane. But, according to everybody except for my mom, my mother is the most insane. My mother says that it’s Calista.

So, when I was born, my mother didn’t want me. But, fortunately, my grandmother was more than willing to take me in. She fed me, bathed me, cared for me, until I was six years old. Then, my mother decided that she wanted me again. 

I cried for the first week of staying with my mother. I kept seeing snakes in weird places- it was very strange.

After one year, we learned of the disappearance of my grandmother. In the flick of a finger, there was a memorial organized, although no one had said she was dead.

And of course, my mom didn’t let me come.

Sometimes I witnessed my mom just staring into space on a chair. Once I saw her shadow dancing naked on the floor while she was sleeping. One day she decided to shave her head and use her hair to start a fire to burn my favorite possessions. She was a very creepy woman, so I was almost relieved to take a break from her, five years after my grandmother’s disappearance.

We neared a coffee shop at the corner. Snowden stopped the car.

“Are we stopping?” I asked, turning towards the driver.

“Yeah. We can get some coffee or cookies or something.” Snowden smiled. I sighed, opened the car door, and followed Snowden inside the shop.

When we returned to the car, Snowden was holding a large plastic coffee cup in one hand and a large chocolate muffin. I was carrying a small plastic container of iced tea and a cinnamon bun. We sat back down in the car, Snowden said “Hold this” as I became a human shelf, and she started driving.

We kept driving for a while, and luckily Snowden forgot that she had bought a muffin. I’ll just say that it was delicious.

My cell phone rang. It showed that photo of my mom I had taken when she was sleeping. I answered it.


“Hi, Gracie!”

“What is it?”

“Well, you’re going to be living with Aunt Snowden for quite a bit.”

I gasped. “What?”

“I said I’m kicking you out of my home! G’bye.”

And she hung up.

Snowden turned towards me. “Who was that?”

So- Mom decided to kick me out again. Why? What had I done to her that was so terrible? I didn’t know. At least I wasn’t going to miss anybody- I had only one friend in New York City and even still she wasn’t very nice.

“Oh,” Snowden said after my explanation.

“The thing is—I can’t be your guardian. I have my job, and my thinking of going back to college, and my vicious dog…”

Great, I thought. Nobody wants me.

“But, I can take you to Calista’s house upstate! You can take care of her.”

I had heard about Calista, and had received a letter from her, but had never actually met her. My mother said that her husband had died twenty years ago, and Calista was rumored to have murdered him. But, still every Davidson female had been rumored to kill their partner. I still remembered the letter I had received from her. “I heard you are related to me. That’s nice.” was one of the lines.

Snowden turned the radio on and started singing quite loudly. This did not bother me. My mom had never sung at home and Snowden had an…um… unique voice.

“LA LA LAAAAAAAA LA LAAAAAAAAAA—ooh! We’re here!” Snowden said excitedly.

“We are?”


I looked around. All I could see was a large field. No animals or people in sight- just grass.

Snowden got out of the car, and I did as well.

“Why do you have chocolate on your face?” she suddenly asked me. At that moment, I heard another voice.

“Snowden?” The voice speaking was high and old. I jumped. “Snowden, is that you?”

“Yes, grandmother,” Snowden sighed.

It was then that a woman exited a wall of ivy off to the right of us.

She had her hair up in light blue and pink curlers, like Snowden, except for the fact that this woman’s hair was grayed over and tired. Her eyes were a grey-blue, a faded version of my mom’s, and squinted. She wore a white bathrobe and light purple slippers. Her nails were red and fake.

“Grandmother,” Snowden said calmly—I was freaking out. “Grandmother, this is Grace.”

“What?” My innards twisted at Calista’s shrill voice.

“Hello, grandmother. This is Grace. She is Natalie’s daughter,” Snowden said slowly.

She mused for a moment, as if reminding herself which one Natalie was.

“C’mon in. You can fix yourself something to eat.”


Chapter Three

I hugged Snowden tight, and did not want to let go.

“C’mon. I’ll walk you in,” she promised.

“C’mon!” Calista sighed.

Calista shuffled forward. After about ten seconds, Snowden led me through the ivy wall. Once inside it, I saw a stone path leading to an old cabin. It’s door was about to slam shut from Calista entering. The cabin was painted gray, but there was a large portion of the cabin that remained unpainted.

We walked in together, shut the door, and walked to the living room to find Calista on the floor, talking to a snail that was crawling across the floor.

“You know, Camilo, I just…”

“Ahem. Grandmother. Put Grandpa away.”

I looked about the room. There was a round table in the center of it, with four chairs around it. There were shelves about the room with various cards on them. Most of them were signed “Much love, Deedee.” There were a few stones and jars of paint on each shelf as well. The walls were painted this blueish grayish purple- it matched Calista’s slippers.

It was only then that I realized the oddity of what Snowden had just said.

“What?” I asked Snowden. She took me aside into the kitchen.

“She thinks it’s her husband,” she said simply.


“The snail. She thinks that her husband was reincarnated as this snail.”

I didn’t know what to say as Calista lovingly scooped up the snail with a piece of paper and returned him to his small enclosure. She picked up the enclosure and slid it into a window between the kitchen and the living room, and it fit perfectly.

“Alright. I’ll come over this Saturday for tea. I’m going to go now, grandmother. Bye, Grace!” Snowden hugged me tightly and shut the door of the cabin. I felt utterly alone.

I washed Calista’s hands and sat her down at the table. I didn’t know what else to do, so I made Calista a cup of tea and made myself some bread and butter.

I found Calista fascinating. Sometimes she would just tell stories to her snail, “Camilo”, and a lot of the time, I would be able to hear them. But often, they were shiver-delivering.

Calista stroked Camilo’s shell lovingly.

“I’m getting worried about Natalie, Camilo.” I laid down the broom and dustpan during that first afternoon after Calista had insisted upon taking Camilo out again.

“She’s getting worse. Her daughter, Grace is here, her daughter. She said that she’s seen snakes around her house. She said that Natalie once shaved her head and used her hair to build a fire to burn her toys and books. She said that once, after Natalie had gone to sleep, she saw Natalie’s shadow, dancing! And naked too!”

I gasped. I had never mentioned this.

“And once, when Natalie was pregnant, she stole my jewelry and buried it. When Grace was born, she didn’t even want her! Oh and there was the time, where she asked for egg salad!”

I didn’t see anything worrisome about the last crime.

“Camilo, I’m worried!”

Then, later that night, Calista made a description of the day that my grandmother disappeared.

“Deedee had been living with me for… almost a year. She was really upset about Grace being taken back by Natalie… no… Camilo, I’m not talking about Natalie… you get confused about your own children! Really… Anyway, Deedee came out of her bedroom with makeup on. That confused me because she never had worn makeup before in her life. She grabbed her bag and said, ‘Well, I’m off!’ and walked out the door—straight out the door! Natalie wanted a memorial for her the day after… Brooke and I didn’t get it—she had only walked out! It’s not like she was sick or anything…”

The cot was hard and cold. I shivered, pulling up a quilt on that first night. I did not notice it until the night after.

The night after, I felt the wall with my hand and realized that there was a wire. The wire was painted, to camouflage into the brick wall behind me. It led to a space between two bricks. I reached my hand into the opening and pulled out an old-fashioned phone. It was the color of a banana and looked musty, as if it had been in there for at least a month.

There was a number and a name written on a piece of masking tape on the phone. I squinted to make out the odd handwriting.

“Brooke,” I whispered to myself.

Brooke Davidson… there were so many family members, and it was so hard to keep track of them! But something went ‘click’ in my head, and I remembered that it was my grandmother’s cousin, Calista’s niece.

If Calista was rumored to be a murderer, Brooke was rumored to be a demon. She never left her house to visit friends voluntarily. None of our family members had seen her for a year. She was described as cold and selfish, but I recalled that Calista and Brooke were close. Maybe Brooke could help me out.

I was about to set the phone back until tomorrow, when I saw another dot of masking tape that said “10:02 pm.” Creepy, because that was the exact time it was now. Was that a sign? Should I call Brooke? I dialed the number, and to my surprise, the answer was immediate.

“Aunt Cal?! Is it you?!”

“Oh, uh hi!” I began. “No, this is her great-granddaughter. Natalie’s daughter. Grace.”

“Oh um… Natalie has a daughter?” she said nervously.

“Yes and it is me.” It had not occurred to me that I could have been alive for twelve years without Brooke knowing I existed.

“Wow. Uh, that’s a shock. Why are you at Calista’s house?”

“How did you know I was?” 

“The phone that you are calling on is not a portable phone.”

“Oh. Yeah. My mom kicked me out, so now I’m staying with Calista. But, uh, is there any chance that you could come over for lunch on Saturday? The day after tomorrow? Snowden is coming too. It’s kind of lonely here. I haven’t left the house yet.”

“Um—Snowden—like my first-cousin-once-removed Snowden?”

“Uh yeah, I think so!”

“Ok, yeah, I’ll come.”

The next afternoon, after giving Calista a piece of toast with jam and butter, which was homemade—a little old fashioned—I put on my raincoat that I had found in Calista’s top drawer and stepped outside to the pounding rain to think.

My life had been pretty tragic, I had to admit. All I wanted was a decent house with a mother that wasn’t a demon, and my father to be alive. Oh yeah—I forgot to mention that—all the men in the Davidson family die—no brothers, no husbands, no men in general. It’s weird. Snowden concluded that it was a curse. It’s one of the downsides of having been descended from witches.


I felt the rain pour on my back, and my long black hair started to drip. I realized that I was going to track mud all over the house. I took off my rain boots on the porch. I hung my raincoat on the staircase banister to dry, although it would only get more wet until the storm subsided.

Luckily it did soon, and I was in quite a jolly mood, but a little anxious about meeting Brooke. By lunch, the sky was clear. I chopped up an apple and gave it to Calista. I shined mine and bit into it. While chewing, I remembered that I would have to serve Brooke and Snowden. What better than apple pie? I knew how to make it. It was simple and sweet. I decided that I had to go to the store. Not only did I need pie crusts, but I needed a new set of clothes or two, and socialization. I had spent two and a half days alone with a woman who rarely spoke to me and horrible wifi.

I had passed a grocery store called Marty’s Bewildered Staff and so on, a Family Store just around the corner, so I went there, and also picked up a pair of jeans I was surprisingly able to find, and returned to Calista with a smile on my face.


Chapter Four

After I set the pie in the oven, I glanced at Calista, sitting at the table, wearing one of the only outfits that I thought looked alright. Then, again, Dove had always questioned my taste in… everything.

I had put on the jeans I had bought and a baggy shirt I had taken from Calista that I made smaller with a couple of safety pins. 

I reached into the pocket of my jeggings that I had worn the day I had arrived that were now hanging over a chair, and took out a crumpled black choker. I put that on as well and sat down next to Calista.

I decided to ask her a question, a question that I thought I knew the answer to.

“Did you murder your husband?” I asked.

“Yes,” she responded in her old lady voice. “Why do you ask?”

I gasped. My mother had always said to me, “Everybody says that grandma killed grandpa, but we know it’s not true. That’s just too crazy to believe. It was the curse that really got him killed.”

“You did?!” I shrieked.



“Because he told me that I was going to.”


“You see, Camilo can tell the future. He told me that I was going to stab him to death, and I did. He also said that in nineteen years, he’d come back as a snail who really loved cabbage. And guess what? HE DID! Dandy, isn’t it?”

I pondered this in my head a second. “Was he, by any chance, the one who wrote on the phone in my bedroom?”

“Oh yes he did that too… oy, I’m glad he’s a snail now! Oy!”

So, he predicted that I was going to live here and both Brooke and I were awake at the same time? Why did we have to write the note, though? What would’ve happened if we talked in the morning? I still do not know, because, believe it or not, that has never come up again.

About thirty minutes after I took the pie out of the oven, I heard the doorbell buzz. When I answered it, I recognized the woman standing there as Brooke, simply because I did not recognize her. She had a prominent brow, like Calista, and gray hair that reached her shoulders. She wore a jean jacket and her expression showed anxiety, and only anxiety. She said nothing.

“Hi!” I said. “I’m Grace, your… something. Natalie’s daughter.”

“I… um… AUNT CAL!!” Brooke’s scream confused me. It showed that she was a very socially awkward person, and even more reason for people to think she was a demon.

“Brooke!” Calista called out with delight. “Brooke, is that you?”

Brooke walked in to Calista and sat down next to her. They began to converse about random things, fishing, swimming, family, death, and local incidents.

The pie had been thoroughly cooled by now, so I began to set out plates when the doorbell buzzed again. I opened the screen door to find not just my aunt Snowden there, but also my mother.

“Mom?!” I gasped. Natalie smiled and waved.

“She can’t—you’re not going to let her—” I could tell that Natalie intended to come in, so I did not stop her, and I set an extra plate for her at the table, cut an extra slice of pie for her.

The pie was a hit, but we had very little conversation. But, at one point, Brooke began one.

“I’m moving in.” Her voice was deep and gravely.

“Hm?” I mumbled excitedly. I definitely needed some help caring for Calista.

“Here. I am moving in here. Tomorrow. I can help garden and cook.”

“Ooh! Goody! This will be so much fun!” Calista giggled like a toddler.

All of a sudden, there was a loud smash to interrupt our conversation. My mother smiled menacingly and she looked at us, looking at the remains of her glass of milk.

“Mom! What are you doing?” 

My mother picked up her plate with half a slice of pie on it and threw it at the wall.

“Mom! I’m gonna have to pick that up! Stop it now!”

Snowden looked at Natalie nervously, then looked at my unbelieving expression.

“Natalie—c’mon Nattie, let’s go. It’s late.”

“No. I want to stay,” my mom said in a voice like to one of a two-year-old child.

Snowden helped my mother to the door, all while Natalie’s eyes glared at me.

Later that night, under my cot, there was a picture. A drawing of my mom. She had a long tail, with a rattle at the end. Her pupils were vertical slits, and she had a forked tongue. 


Chapter Five

I can’t say I thought much of Brooke from that afternoon’s experience. But I thought that she could help with some of the chores, so I could have more free time. I made a list of work that had to be done.

Cooking. Beside that I put a large B.

Cleanup. I carefully made a G.

Gardening B. 

Caring for Calista G.

Those were the four main things. All of a sudden, I realized that we didn’t have a garden to garden with. At least, I hadn’t seen one. I decided to check–having a garden was something that Calista wouldn’t mention to me.

I walked around to the back of the house, and to my surprise, there was quite a garden.

There was a large apple tree (so much for buying apples, I thought), a couple of fig trees, three large stalks of corn coming up, a couple pepper plants, five different species of tomato, some cabbage (for Camilo!), a pumpkin vine growing, basil, rosemary, and a beautiful chocolate mint.

I instantly knew that we must have a watermelon planted soon.

I walked back inside with a couple pieces of cabbage, and, after chopping up the cabbage and giving it to Calista to give Camilo, decided to wait for Brooke. I remembered that Brooke had never said the specific time that she was moving in. “Why do they keep doing that?” I said out loud. Because the author wrote it like this, I reminded myself.

I waited and waited, for quite some time. Calista took out Camilo and began to tell him some Greek Myths. I loved Mythology, so I listened as well.

“…and she turned the woman into a cow, Camilo! Can you believe it?!”

BUZZ. I smiled as I opened the door. Brooke was wearing the same outfit as yesterday.

“I can help you with your baggage?” I asked politely.

“Oh, no, that’s not necessary. I only have this.” Brooke held up a half-filled backpack. Was that all she wanted to keep? All her life was able to squeeze into that backpack?

Brooke walked in and placed her backpack on a chair. It slid off. I shut the screen door and watched Brooke hug her aunt.

Brooke turned to me. “We have some things to discuss, don’t we?”

“We do,” I replied.

“Why don’t we go downstairs?” She smiled.

“Downstairs? There’s only one floor here, Brooke.”

Brooke smiled at me. “You haven’t been here long?”

“Five days. Why?”

Brooke smiled again. “Come with me.”

Brooke led me to my bedroom. The one with the brick rooms and the cot that I pretended was a real bed. The one with the maroon rug on the floor and the creepy child’s rocking chair.

Brooke fell down on her hands and knees. She felt around for something. Not the dust that her fingers were picking up, something important.

“Aha!” She exclaimed in a ‘told-you-so’ manner. She plucked four bricks from the floor, and I wondered how I could not have noticed bricks that were not attached appropriately.

Underneath the bricks was a board. Brooke lifted that up and dangled her legs into the hole, before dropping down below.

“Come on!” Brooke’s voice echoed. I followed Brooke’s lead, and, as if I was diving into water, I held my breath as I hopped down.

It was very dark. I heard a strike of a match, saw a flickering light, then I saw that Brooke was lighting an oil lamp, and the whole room began to glow.

It was very dusty. There was dust on almost anything, and although my hands had not touched any other object, they were covered in dust too.

The walls were brick and there was a big sofa and a young child’s tricycle in the middle of the room. Brooke sighed. She knew this place like the back of her hand. I followed her, and sat down next to her on the beige couch.

“Uh, yeah, well first of all I bought some presents for you.”

I raised my eyebrows. “You did?”

Brooke took two packages out of her jacket pocket. One was a bit larger than the other. The larger was a book, and I was looking forward to reading it. The other was a small packet of watermelon seeds. 


Chapter Six

Brooke and I discussed what jobs we were to do and our rough schedule. Brooke also gave me some money, for which I was very thankful. She looked around for a moment.

“I want a cat.”


“I want a cat. We used to have a cat here, Blueberry. It would make the place a whole lot jollier.” Brooke sighed.

At five o’clock, I set out to find, adopt, or purchase a cat. Unfortunately, it did not prove easy, and it took over two hours to find one.

There was one pet shop in the town. I rushed into it and looked around. I saw the cat aisle, and walked towards it.

There were three cats. One was an orange-tabby-and-white, one was a young mackerel tabby, and the other was a black bombay mix. The first cat was sleeping peacefully on her bed. The second was sitting up on his bed, watching me. The third was rubbing against the bars of the cage.

“How does this work?” I asked a man next to me, who was watching the first cat sleep.

By the end of the day, I was walking out with the third cat, ready for Brooke to name her.

When I walked into the house, I saw (and smelled) that Brooke was making tomato sauce! Maybe we would start to eat well. I had been eating fruit and toast with Calista for a few days. Tomato sauce would be nice.

“Ahem. Guys.” Both women turned towards me.

“I bought a cat,” I said, holding the pet carrier up.

Brooke’s eyes widened.

“Don’t let her eat Camilo! It’ll poison her,” Calista said as Brooke took the carrier into the living room.

Brooke opened the crate and the cat stayed inside. I opened one of the cat food cans I had bought and set the smelly glop on a plate. Brooke filled a bowl up with water. We set the dishes down and let the cat have some “alone time” as we all went downstairs on the couch and let the sauce burn.

While downstairs, I got a good chunk of the day to read the book. It wasn’t a very good book, but it was alright.

“What are we going to name her?” Brooke interrupted my reading. “Cranberry. Definitely.” She answered her own question.


Chapter Seven

Living with Brooke was actually easier than I expected. I’d wake up to the smell of bacon or pancakes wafting into my room. She would do the gardening while I cleaned up her mess, and when she came back, I would help dress Calista, and I would get some free time to read. I was even able to set up a hammock between two trees in the yard after we planted the watermelon seeds.

Sometimes I would even have time to lay on the couch with Cranberry. Cranberry had become quite a lap cat, especially towards me and Brooke.

But one thing I made sure I always had time for, was staring into Camilo’s cage.

One day, as I was doing so, Calista was taking a nap, and Brooke was staring into space on the couch with Cranberry. I made the stupid desicion to give him a couple of cabbage leaves that were lying there on the counter. When I opened the cage top and slipped them in, I heard Brooke call my name, and I twisted around instinctively, and watched the cage shatter on the floor.

Brooke cursed. I did too. Sticks and cage decor were strewn across the living room floor, but most importantly, Camilo’s shell was shattered. I had killed him. I wailed. Brooke hurriedly helped me pick up everything, including his body. We put the decor in a box and I tucked him into a pile of dirt outside.

When I came back inside, I sniffed. “I killed him.” Brooke came over to me and shook me. “We can’t change that. It was a horrible accident. But we can’t cry right now because we have to figure out what to do about Calista.”

That hadn’t occurred to me. Calista loved this snail. She told stories to this snail. Well, then again, she was the one who originally killed him.

We began to search for another snail in the garden. I thought that we would be able to find one rather quickly, but in truth, we weren’t able to find a snail. But, I found a slug!

When I brought it to Brooke, she made that noise that people make when they’re unsure of something.

“I could hide her glasses,” I suggested.

Brooke ran downstairs, and quickly came back up with a snail shell. It was too large, but it just might work.

“Where did you get that?” I asked.

“I have a shell collection.” 


I hid Calista’s glasses behind the bricks, where the telephone was. When I came upstairs, Brooke had put the slug into the huge (at least, compared to the slug) shell.

The slug began to crawl out. 

“Don’t you do that!” Brooke snapped at the slug.

“Brooke?” Calista called from the room she shared with Brooke.

“Oh, uh, yes, aunt?” Brooke hurriedly placed the “snail” back into the bin and we washed our hands as Calista stumbled out of her room.

“Where are my glasses? What’s going on around here? Where’s Camilo?”

“Nothing, aunt. We had to move him to one of those storage bins. His cage, uh, broke.”

“Oh my.” Calista walked over to the bin, took out the “snail” and looked at him. He was crawling out of the shell.

“IT’S A DAMN SLUG!!!!!!” She screamed with astonishment. She recognized his- um- slugness instantly, even without glasses.

She looked at Brooke. “What did you do to him?”

“What? I- uh-”

“It’s my fault.” I spoke up. “I accidently smashed the cage and Camilo when Brooke called my name.” 

Calista glared at me for a few seconds before responding. “Oh, ok. You should have said so in the first place.”

I let out a sigh of relief, and so did Brooke. And that is how I began to grow closer to Brooke.


Chapter Eight

I remember vividly the day of the phone call. I was awoken by a ringing, coming from the telephone in my room. I looked at the clock. It was only six am. I couldn’t hear Brooke’s loathsome singing yet, I couldn’t smell any bacon. I sat up and answered it, listening to my groggy voice.


“Hello! Who is it that I am speaking to?” The voice sounded strangely like my mother’s, but older.

“Grace. Grace Davidson.”

“Oh! How are you, Grace?”

“I’m fine, but nevermind that. Who are you? Why are you calling?”

“Oh, um, that’s the unfortunate news.”

“There is unfortunate news?”

“I’m afraid so.” I hated when people said that.

“Well, what is it?”

“There has been a… an accident.”

“An accident?!” I began to panic. I jumped out of bed. “To whom? What accident?”

“Well… to your aunt Snowden.”

“Snowden?! Is she alright?!”

“I-I-I’m afraid not. She was climbing a bridge yesterday in New Mexico and—”

“Why the hell was she in New Mexico?!”

“I’m not aware of that, Grace. But, long story short, she fell off.”

“W-w-w…” I had no idea what to think. Snowden was DEAD? “Why should I believe you?”

The woman on the phone sighed. “Because I am a close relative of Snowden. I do not joke about—I do not joke about my relatives. If you want proof, how would I know that Snowden was your aunt otherwise? Also, what would I get out of this anyway?”

‘Calista,’ I suddenly thought. ‘Brooke. I have to tell them.’

“Goodbye,” I said into the phone, and, still in my pajamas, ran to the kitchen and thought about what you could eat but not choke on while you were crying. And what would taste sweet and good in your mouth to drown out the taste of the tears.

I hurriedly whipped up some pancake mix and, as I flipped the pancakes, sobbed, wailed, cried, that this happened.

I thought about it. What would falling off a bridge be like? Following gravity, facing the inevitable. I got spooked by Brooke stumbling into the room, yawning, cursing.

“What’s going on? What’s happening? Why are you cooking breakfast? Why are you crying?”

I looked at her, not knowing what to say. First, still sobbing, I set the plate of pancakes in front of her. It was three layers high with blueberries, chocolate chips, syrup, and powdered sugar. The sweets were well called for. Brooke kept staring at me.

“Snowden fell off a bridge,” I said, as calmly as I could manage. It was such an unexpected message to deliver.

“But-b-but…” Brooke tried to think of an excuse. “She is only thirty. She was so healthy!”

We both began to sob. After informing Calista, the three of us held a wailing party.

That night, I looked up at the stars, swimming in my thoughts.

 “I am a drowning moose,” I told myself, because that’s what I felt like. A moose sinking in mud.


To be Continued…


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