Following My Creative Writing Teacher’s Advice To Write “Like My Parents Are Dead.”
BY Ellie Kemper
Autumn Days Are Fleeting
There was a slight nip in the air, and I pulled my anorak closer. The leaves were beginning to turn. Orange, brown, bright yellow. Autumn, I thought. I inhaled deeply, imagining the crisp air filling my lungs. Oh, God. I miss Mom. Why did you take her from me, God? Why did she have to die? She is gone.
Seven Days, Five of Them Working
I agreed with Cynthia. I did. Four hours would never be enough time to prepare the presentation. There was too much data. There were too many bar graphs. It wasn’t our fault. We were told the meeting would be on Thursday; it got bumped back to Wednesday. Oh, God. Wednesday. My dad’s favorite day. What was it that he used to call it again? Oh, yeah: Hump Day. I miss Dad so much.
Reflections on a Lake
“You guys go ahead,” I told Timothy. “I’ll wait for you at the dock.” Timothy nodded. Really, what was the point of my going out on the sailboat, feeling like this? I would bring down the entire party. After all, that’s how both of my parents died. On a sailboat. Lakes aren’t always as placid as you might think. Lakes kill. A lake killed my parents. Five months ago today. That’s when they died. That’s why they’re gone.
Comas and Shit
Sometimes I wonder if my mother is ever coming out of this coma. This is horrible, just sitting here and watching her. This chair is so uncomfortable. It’s like she isn’t even here. It’s like she isn’t even alive. It’s as though she were justÂ—what’s that sound? What does that sound mean? Nurse. Nurse! I think we’ve lost her. I think we just lost my mom to death.
Death is inevitable, and everywhere. It will happen to all of us. Just like how it already happened to my parents. I would like to write about something else, but it is nearly impossible. Death fills my every thought. It’s not fun to go on living when both of your parents are dead. Especially when you got along really well with both of them, like I did. Sure, we had our tiffs here and there, but, on the whole, we were really polite to one another. How can I write about something as inconsequential as winter snow when I have no parents? It is horrible to live with parents who are dead.
“He’s not here,” I told the priest. “My father is not here to give me away.” The priest gave me a dirty look. I could feel my face redden with ire. “He’s not here,” I growled, “because he’s dead.”
Telling Children About Grandparents
“You don’t have any,” I told Allison for the fourth time that day. “You don’t have any grandparents. Your father died before ever introducing me to his parents, and both of my parents are dead. You don’t have a grandparent in the world. Because they are either dead or unknown. In my case, they are dead.” Allison began to cry, for the fourth time that day.
It was back to that nagging question: What exactly am I? A mess of bone and flesh. A clump of nails and hair. I am all of those things. But isn’t there something more? Hidden in this cage of ribs, deep within these layers of tissue, lurking in these strands of sinew, isn’t there a soul? I would like to think so. Otherwise, my parents are just straight-up dead. Deep in the ground, down in the dirt, just … dead. Dead as doornails. Oh, sweet Lord. Please let there be a soul. Please, God. Please don’t let my parents just be dead.
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