Writing Prompt #148 — From One Deceased to Another

Prompt: “CASKET FOR SALE. SLIGHTLY USED. GREAT STATE BUT I DONT NEED IT ANYMORE”

“What do you mean you don’t need it anymore?” I ask the pale old man. He stands by a polished mahogany casket, upright on a stand, in his front yard. It’s dusk, and the sun is under the horizon. Nothing else out, just him and the casket.

Rubbing the side of it, he says, “I mean it’s useless now. All used up. No point of keeping it around.”

“Where’d you get it?”

“I bought it, of course.” He grins, revealing smoker’s teeth.

“And you used it?”

“Well, yeah; why wouldn’t I?” He slaps its front. “These babies aren’t cheap.”

I shove my cold hands in my pockets. “Can I see the inside?”

“Sure, why not?” He open the top half. The inside’s lined with like-new silky white cushions and a pillow. Looks more comfortable than my own bed.

“Huh,” I say. “How much you want for it?”

“Ten bucks.”

I’ve seen a lot of coffins in my day. Ten dollars is far too low, even for something used. I eye the man, his scraggly silver hair and long beard, his liver spots on his scalp. The front door to his house behind him opens. A shadow appears in the screen door.

“And you say it’s used?”

Laughs. “Of course.”

“For what?”

“For burial, obviously. Who buys a coffin otherwise?”

Out of curiosity, I ask: “Where’s its occupant?”

He grins, scratches his large nose. “Not in there, that’s for sure.”

The screen door clicks open, whines as its pushed. A barefoot slaps the cement floor of the porch.

He looks over his shoulder, back to me. “Look, sonny. Do you want it or not?” Sweat coats his protruding forehead.

I run a delicate finger down its front. Another foot slaps the cement. A faded, floral gown comes into view.

“Possibly,” I muse, “possibly.”

The man backhands his sweat after another glance over his shoulder. I follow his gaze again to find an old woman in a gown standing on the porch. The screen door clatters shut. Her hair’s gone, and her brittle arms hold balled, gnarled fists. She’s not just pale, but ghastly. Even from this far, I smell the rot radiating from her.

“Ah,” I say, now understanding. “I see, I see. I’ll take it off your hands, but I don’t carry cash.”

“Then, what the—” he catches himself, a vein bulging in his temple. “Never mind, whatever. You can take it, for free.”

The woman is stumbling down the stairs. A quiet groan falls from her gaping mouth.

“Honestly?” I ask.

He nods frantically. “Yes, yes; just take it and go.” He looks at the woman crossing into the grass, arms now raised, hands grasping towards me. A rusted band still on her ring finger.

“All right then.” I close the top half. “Thank you for your service.”

His eyes are wide, wild; terror filled. “Just go for God’s sake, please!”

I lift the coffin from its stand, hold it close, and kick off from the ground. He watches me levitate into the darkening sky.

“What—what the hell are you?”

I say from above, “Like your wife, but so very different.”

Then I fly westward, towards my cottage hidden deep among the woods surrounding the little town. I look forward to sleeping in my new bed.

Read the previous prompt, “One Cookie and Two Perps

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