By Meg Mulcahy
We had never seen a double coffin before. One stupid October night, emboldened by whiskey and promise, we crept into Dunboyne funeral home to take a proper look. It had been on display in the home window for weeks, the subject of Bridie and Maureen’s nattering propped up by shopping trolley bags. A double coffin. “The Padre Pio Package,” we called it. A double deal, with cheese. We’d spent the night discussing the logistics. How did it work? Did one have to die and be unearthed when the other was ready to join them? Or, did you have to wait, embalmed. Chilling. For as long as it took. True love knows no bounds, after all. We toasted the couples who would have signed the contract, put the deposit down, paid this thing off over their best years, only to resent each other. Those who grew cold long before they were boxed away. We laughed at the Romeo and Juliet of it all. We saw ourselves in it, in a way that everyone mocks people that think they can control what happens next.
The night we broke it, the wind cut oranges. The streets were lashed with glass and electric-lined trainers swung dangerously, kissing other worlds with their toes. We peeled out of our coats, shedding them onto aged burgundy carpet. Incredulous at very much expected vases of faux lillies and stained mahogany. Choking on the stench of furniture polish with already compromised lungs, we bolted towards the display room. Our hands covered each other’s as we fumbled for a groove. We clawed at clasps until Donal’s palms gripped the underside of the lid and heaved it upwards. Awe-struck at luxurious cushioned interiors grander than our own, we ran our hands along the silk long enough to make Donal want to climb in. He patted the velour bed, motioning me inside. I protested a step too far. “We’ve already made it this far. C’mon, we’re more likely to be seen from the road if we’re standing in the window. Hop in.” He made some valid points, though I can’t for the life of me remember what they were. I gingerly put a knee over the coffin and eased myself down into it. “Look, we’re a Twix!” he exclaimed. The ridiculousness was enough to send me over to him, rolling towards his outstretched chest, entranced by the shards of moonlight on his grinning face. Absolutely his, we took comfort in the writhing warm. We were home.
It’s been weeks since that night. We didn’t wake long enough to see who closed the lid, or to scream. We’ve been doing a lot of that ever since. I don’t know how we haven’t been heard; maybe people don’t want to listen. We can’t explain how we haven’t needed to be human, or how we’re sustained by the box. All I know is that we’d better find a way out before this baby comes.
Meg is a writer, poet and general gowl based in Dublin, Ireland. She copywrites for money and runs on iced coffee and hope. Her work lives in her blog The Social Seagull (socialseagull.com) and is featured in Crêpe & Penn, honey & lime, Kissing Dynamite Poetry and GCN. You can find her very much online on Twitter @TheGoldenMej and on Instagram @goldenmej
Halloween Flash Fiction Competition Winner