NB- Apologies for such a rough story. I decided to go back to a prompt from day 1 and take a run at a story of mine that wasn’t working. I actually cut out the hermit crab scaffolding, which brought it to life. It’s especially rough because I didn’t have time to do research on corpses. I’ve read a couple books by Caitlin Doughty but that was ages ago. I think that information will really flesh it out. (Sorry not sorry.)
The Worst Part of Getting to Know Someone is Digging Up All the Dead Bodies of the Past
Not all dead bodies are buried six feet deep. Some are skimming below the surface ready for the moment they’ll be called upon as evidence. The best defense is a corpse whose wounds reflect your story. Show them the bruises on the neck where he choked you, the deep scratches on the forearms where you fought back.
When your grandma asks why you didn’t marry that nice boy, you’ll need a body to prove you made the right choice. She’ll tsk and say in her day a woman didn’t ask for it. Springer corpses pop up after deranged comments like this. And when the right song comes on in your local Safeway. They can only slip deeper into the earth due to erosion. No amount of harried digging under the body will get it further away from you. Deep down, you may not feel better until you’re halfway to China, smoldering in the earth’s molten core. Like I said, every corpse is different.
Not all bodies should be dug up. Maybe leave the embalmed and mummified first love deep down where it belongs. Digging it up may result in forgetting how unsure he made you feel while he gorged on your insecurities like an all-you-can-eat buffet.
A clean conscience is your best tool–after a shovel–in the process. If you’re a woman you know that even a spot of cemetery dirt on you can ruin your reputation while a man can walk around reeking of corpses and everyone pretends to smell roses. You hope when he digs up his version of it that the women listening hear the red flags. See them in the whites of his eyes, the red of his hair, the pink of his skin like it’s been in the sun too long, connected to your bloated corpse even after all these years.
When your spade strikes the body, take an honest look. Time underground changes everything. The bodies you buried will be in various states of decay, depending on whether they were embalmed or not. The abusive boyfriend corpse is rotting bloated with maggots. Smell it. Craving hamburgers is normal for an embalmed body. Corpses of processed trauma may present as bones or, even better, dust.
You’ve done the showing, now the telling. Try to remember how you got to this point. Decide what you can live with. There is no one correct response. Your relationship to a grave can change. You are not the same person who buried the body.
In the days after the show and tell, you may feel haunted by the specter of the past or smell the cemetery dirt as you walk your Scottish terrier down the lane. Most grave digging is done solo in the moments when you drift away from the present, lingering in an unpleasant past. This is natural. The past has more traction. If the world were perfect, we wouldn’t have dead bodies to bury. But if you find yourself spending most of your time with your hands covered in cemetery dirt, if you can’t go to work or spend time with the people you care about without picturing the bodies you buried, then it’s time to stop. Let the bodies rot. They don’t need a curator.