applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([girls] butterfly mask)
How About Them Apples? ([personal profile] applespice) wrote2011-03-29 07:57 pm
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LJ Idol - Week 19 - Mirage

The corpse was discovered just before daybreak, draped across the lush green grass like a sleeping angel. There was some confusion surrounding the time that the body actually appeared on the lawn, for it lay immediately adjacent to a house that had been hosting a large and raucous party for several hours prior to (and during, and even slightly after) the gruesome discovery. Many people admitted to having seen the girl on the grass throughout the course of the night, but had figured her a happy casualty of the bacchanalia and gone on their way.

None of these witnesses could pin down an exact time to seeing her (and it was suspected, if not spoken aloud, that some of them were simply caught up in the excitement of the thing and weren't entirely truthful in their accounts), and so the discovery was attributed to a member of the band, who had wandered out at around five fifteen in the morning and attempted to wake her. It was at this point that he noticed that she didn't have a pulse.

The news quickly circulated. Before long, a knot of people were clustered around the pale figure, breathless with fear and a kind of morbid excitement.

“I’ve never seen a dead body before,” said a girl in a thrilling whisper. She wore shredded green tights and held her thin, nicotine-stained fingers to her mouth.

“You’ve never been a funeral?” someone else inquired.

“That doesn’t count,” the girl said decisively. “It isn’t the same.”

A bobbing wave went through the group as everyone nodded. Most had leaned over the powdered, preserved corpses of distant relatives in pillow-lined boxes, their noses full of the cloying scent of funeral wreaths. This was different – more dignified, somehow. Each person in the cluster felt a certain respect for the dead girl at their feet. She brought mortality to them in a way dead grandparents and great-aunts never had, and each of them seemed to momentarily felt the cold flurry of its wings. Several began speaking at once in an attempt to break the dark spell.

"Does anybody know who she is?"

"I thought I saw her with you on the front porch, isn't that right?"

"Did she come with anyone else?"

All of these questions were answered in the negative. Nobody knew her. No one had sat with her on the front porch. Certainly nobody had come in with her. She seemed to have materialized out of thin air, a fairy-tale princess transported to them by the magic of her last breath.

“Should we call the police?” someone asked tentatively. There was a general murmur of assent, though no one moved to carry out the deed. All of them remained fixed, their eyes on the body that gleamed faintly in the grass. It was as though they feared she might fade into the dewy morning like a phantom if they turned their eyes away.

Finally, a shiver of movement broke the concentration. A young man in a battered straw fedora pulled his cell phone from his pocket and determinedly dialed it. He looked off over the rooftops and young, shivering suburban trees, as though determined not to meet the vigilant eyes of his fellows. He didn't move away, though; he couldn't resist the charm of such a captive audience.

The call was brief and relatively uninteresting. The best part was when the young man said, "We've found a dead body," in a tone that he obviously intended to be nonchalant, but came out as though he imagined himself as some kind of hard-bitten TV detective. One of the girls at the back of the group tittered nervously.

When it was all over, the young man turned to the rest of them, and they gathered in around him with expressions that were somehow both curious and conspiratorial. "They're on their way," he said. This time he got the tone right, but his eager face belied his enthusiasm.

There was a sudden swell of talk, like a breaking wave, and then silence again. Eyes full of meaning sought each other in the crowd, then turned to the body, then flicked away again. The moment of reverent focus was gone, but the fascination remained. Some people stepped gingerly closer, and the bravest knelt to get a better look.

"She's pretty," a girl with a blonde mohawk said. And she was. She wore a short, lacy party dress, the color of champagne bubbles. She had long, honey colored hair and a delicate face. On one of her fingers, she wore a ring shaped like a butterfly.

This was all people could remember, when later asked. They had stared and stared and stared at her, but could only ever faintly remember what she looked like. It was like trying to remember a dream, and scraps of it seemed to be continually floating away from them.

The ambulance and police cars arrived ten minutes later. Statements were given, reports written, and the staccato lightning of camera flashes flickered over the grass as the first blades of daylight sliced across the sky. Then, almost ceremoniously, like an honor guard, they placed the body on a stretcher and bore it grimly away. The partygoers watched with hungry eyes until the last of the taillights turned the corner and rushed away.

No one ever figured out who she was. No one ever claimed her. She faded quickly into a story to interest dates or relatives, a macabre token of the speaker's worldliness and wild ways. They talked about her romantically, dramatically, hanging meaning and wonder and mystery on the fragile shell of their memories. They built her up like an idol of mist, powerful and vague. She was the smoke that curled from their cigarettes, the tension that hung between their words, the pale-blue moment just before the summer sun breaks across the morning sky. Almost solid, almost someone, but not quite.

[identity profile] basric.livejournal.com 2011-03-30 01:53 am (UTC)(link)
Very well written as usual.

[identity profile] applespicy.livejournal.com 2011-03-30 03:39 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you :)

[identity profile] comedychick.livejournal.com 2011-03-30 11:43 am (UTC)(link)
How sad that she was never claimed, and no one ever found out who she was. That would be a tragic way to go. Maybe she is the girl from [livejournal.com profile] talonkarrde88's story :)

I can't imagine what I'd do if I'd come across a body like that. Other than probably being speechless.

[identity profile] applespicy.livejournal.com 2011-04-03 03:24 am (UTC)(link)
I always wonder about things like that - what people think when they find a body, and what the moments before and after are like. Morbid, but there you go. Every time I hear a news story about a body being found I think about the circumstances, and who the person was and how they got there.

[identity profile] joeymichaels.livejournal.com 2011-03-30 10:51 pm (UTC)(link)
About a year ago, on the campus where I work, an unfortunate gentleman was trimming a tree on an adjacent property when he had a heart attack and died. Because he was strapped in to the tree (so he wouldn't fall), he just remained hanging there, like some strange, awful fruit.

I was one of the first faculty members there and it fell to me to make students leave. They were gawking, yes, but what was worse was a significant portion of them were taking photos.

"For Facebook," one told me as I asked them why on Earth they would take a picture of this poor man.

I explained that this would cause grief to his family and that it would be inhumane to post such a thing.

Anyhow, I was amazed at how many kids I had to ask to delete photos or not take pictures that day. Maybe as many as thirty.

It was the first time I've seen a corpse anywhere other than at a funeral - and it really is a different experience.

I ended up needing to see a counselor about it. I couldn't sleep. Thinking about how public his death had been and how much I was afraid of dying in a similar manner wigged me out. The counselor explained to me that I was projecting my fears onto this dude, and maybe that dying while he was working outdoors was exactly how this guy would have wanted to go. Who knows?

Better now, but man seeing a body can mess you up. I think you hit on that pretty accurately here.

[identity profile] applespicy.livejournal.com 2011-04-03 03:26 am (UTC)(link)
Ugh. It doesn't surprise me that they took pictures (I'm sure my students would, if they stumbled across such a scene), but it makes me sad. Death isn't something that should be sensationalized or splashed all over the internet. I understand that it interests people (hell, I wrote this story about it, after all), but there should be some dignity to it.

I'm pretty sure that if I ever saw a body outside of a funeral I would be completely traumatized. I'm glad you're better now, but I completely get why it messed you up. Mortality is scary.
shadowwolf13: (Default)

[personal profile] shadowwolf13 2011-03-31 01:53 am (UTC)(link)
:(

[identity profile] applespicy.livejournal.com 2011-04-03 03:26 am (UTC)(link)
Aww!

[identity profile] myrna-bird.livejournal.com 2011-03-31 09:52 pm (UTC)(link)
An eerie tale.

[identity profile] applespicy.livejournal.com 2011-04-03 03:27 am (UTC)(link)
Just another one of those things that travels around in my twisted head...

[identity profile] snarkerdoodle.livejournal.com 2011-04-01 01:13 am (UTC)(link)
Wonderfully told, and very believable in the details of no one noticing for a while, the fascination after discovery, etc.

[identity profile] applespicy.livejournal.com 2011-04-03 03:28 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you :)

[identity profile] java-fiend.livejournal.com 2011-04-01 04:00 am (UTC)(link)
Woah. What a really macabre tale here. But something that rings really true to me. I can see the objectification of somebody's body like this... I can see it all too well. really powerful and well written.

[identity profile] applespicy.livejournal.com 2011-04-03 03:29 am (UTC)(link)
I think about this stuff every once in awhile... how desensitized people are to death and how that would effect them if they saw something like this. It seems like the only deaths that matter now are our own or those of the people nearest us. :/

[identity profile] beeker121.livejournal.com 2011-04-01 07:04 pm (UTC)(link)
This is haunting, in a good way.

[identity profile] applespicy.livejournal.com 2011-04-03 03:29 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you :)