I can only imagine the unglamorous manner of my death. Perhaps I’ve suffered the consequences of considering myself an expert at orienteering after viewing a single instructional YouTube video (which, it should be noted, I watched while stalking ex-boyfriends on Facebook). Perhaps I drank from a stream that contained the remains of a dead goat, which caused some kind of putrefying goat illness characterized by lethal, bowel-rupturing diarrhea. Or maybe I’ve been captured by mountain people and am currently living in the hills somewhere, birthing twelve-fingered babies and learning the banjo. If this is the case, then I’m not lost at all, merely transfiguring myself into the next Stockholm superstar with an over-used vagina. One day I will emerge from the woods with my brood and play the banjo for the world. My children, of course, will all be banjo aficionados (what with their twelve fingers and all), and we will take the world by storm. We’ll be like the Jackson Five. Or the Osmonds. There will be a six-figure book deal. Maybe even a reality show.
For the purposes of this letter, however, let us consider the more likely possibility: I have been eaten by a bear. Perhaps I named this bear “Henry” right before he tore through my jugular. Henry seems like a nice name for a bear.
To the kind park rangers who likely dispatched of Henry after my death: thank you for your expertise in euthanasia. Of course, I wish you’d gotten those rifles out a bit sooner, but who am I to complain? I’m not sure what the Standard Operating Procedure is with regard to killing bears, but I imagine that I am posthumously entitled to the carcass of said bear (after all, it contains my remains—it’s rather an urn of sorts). If so, I would like this bear to be skinned and butchered. The meat should be given to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America. There should be a bear roast (and optional potluck) to boost the morale of the underprivileged children. After the roast, everyone can play Frisbee golf. Nothings says social mobility like exotic game and useless sports.
After the bear’s meat has been properly dispatched, I would like his skin to be tanned and turned into a rug, which should be sent to my mother. I think this will be a nice touch. Rather poetic. The body that brought my body to this earth shall now trample the remains of the body that ate my body. Or something like that. Lots of bodies on-top-of/inside-of other bodies. I’m not a poet. At any rate, my mother’s area rug is rather worn, so a replacement will be much appreciated. Of course, I don’t think the head should be attached to the rug like all of those full-body bear rugs you see in log cabins in front of fireplaces where people inevitably make love. That would be the wrong sentiment. And I imagine the head is a tripping hazard. I wouldn’t want my mother to trip on the rug and break a bone (although, my mother breaking her body on the body that ate the body that emerged from her body would probably be a poet’s wet dream). No, the head should be severed from the skin and placed in a box. Please do not embalm the head or pack it in ice. Maybe let the head sit in the office for a few days—just long enough for the eyeballs to start melting. Then send the head to the following address:
Sallie Mae (Student Loan Division)
P.O. Box 8459
Philadelphia, PA 19101
If possible, please include a note written on Official Park Ranger Letterhead. The note should simply say, SUCK IT, BITCHES.
Next, to the manufacturer of my chosen brand of bear mace: I hope you enjoy my $32.95. Buy yourself a nice fucking scarf, asshole.
To my best friend (who suggested that I write a “just in case” letter before hiking the Appalachian Trail): You should feel horribly guilty right now. You’ve jinxed me, and we all learned in grade school that one shouldn’t fuck with jinxes. But fuck you did. Now you’re going to die of a guilt stroke. Knock on wood.
To my second best friend: You get the remainder of my worldly possession, which I would have given to my first best friend had she not ensured my death. These possessions include one box of mismatched socks, one box of mismatched kitchenware, one really weird porno, and approximately $3,124 of highly-tailored hiking equipment. Have fun.
To my family: Your constant reminders of the dangers of hiking solo have been noted.
To my mother: Enjoy the rug.
To Bill Bryson and Cheryl Strayed: Fuck you. This was not a good idea.
And, finally, to my former lovers (particularly the one I cheated on with that girl, and the one I almost cheated on with that guy, and the one I left abruptly and sued): I’m sure you’re all feeling pretty smug right now. Maybe you’re all celebrating at a bar together over a few fancy craft beers. The bitch is in the belly of the bear. Huzzah! Let’s face it, I’d celebrate too if I heard that any of you had been mauled by a vicious and unlikely predator. So, cheers. Enjoy those overpriced IPAs. Just remember, they haven’t found a body. There’s no proof of digestion. For all you know, I’m biding my time with the mountain people, breeding an inbred army loyal to my cause. Someday you’ll hear the faint sound of bluegrass ringing eerily in the darkness, and you’ll know. I’m coming with my crazy banjo children. They all have twelve fingers, and they know how to butcher a kill.