Death Becomes Her
Seven Very Short Cautionary Tales to Bring Children Closer to the Buddha
The Secret and Horrible Fears of Divorced, Spinstered, or Widowed Women of a Certain Entitled Stature Contemplating Death
Every action, every thought she now made led her down an evil rabbit hole of fear. She thought about the horror of putting on her peignoir—then, putting it on, it clung and burned her flesh like flaming napalm. She feared even lifting her padded house shoe. The first step toward the grapefruit half was on frozen shards of glass, the next step found her sinking in piles of red-hot ball bearings. The next was worse. She sliced the grapefruit with her eyes closed, knowing what it was becoming--a beating heart pumping her apartment full of tepid black blood. She closed her eyes and saw her father, resplendent with twisting horns embalming her mother alive. Eyes opened and writhing snakes and giant cockroaches with the saints’ faces rained down in her garden outside the breakfast nook window. She would hold her breath and try to keep the fear away for a fleeting moment. Then gasping for air, thousands of dry, cottony moths would fly down her throat. Eyes closed, she would try no to move, only to know without looking that there was a wave of fear cresting over her head, inches from her scalp ready to break as soon as she moved even a hair--a wave of liquid fear chock full of bloody teeth with their roots still pulsating--a wave with the sound of millions of feeble, aged hips snapping in unison--a wave of bloody lingerie filled with the pulpy remains every miscarriage ever suffered in Earth’s short tenure.
Now, children, use you imagination for a few minutes and think about what else could be in that soup of hideousness washing over Shermanora…Every disgusting, unfathomable fear found its way into this abominable recipe. What could any of us do against the unstoppable force of such terror? It is absolutely unimaginable. This hurricane of revulsion powered by the winds of Shermanora’s Fear washed away all time and place. Whether she actually died (which we can only assume she did) was irrelevant for her. She was swept away, pulled under, spit out, tied down, dismembered, and confronted with every unspeakable ghastly deed and apparition her Fear could possibly conjure up. We imagine a vast putrid ocean of gristle and slime with Shermanora, infinitesimally small, sometimes floating, sometimes pulled under into the dark, wet awfulness. Endlessly deep. Endlessly cruel. With ever increasing horrors spiraling up from the coagulated depths to nibble on Shermanora’s peignoir hem for eternity.