A woman’s face. Dry. Brittle. Slack and distorted in death. This was once FAY, 30s. Now it’s just a corpse.

It was two days after my 16th birthday when my mother died.
ALICE, 16, scrawny yet hopeful, with all the whimsy of her fairy tale namesake, stares at the face that used to belong to her mother.

I suppose I should have cried. Seeing the person who loved me more than anyone else in the world pass away. But I didn’t.
Alice turns her head, studying death from up close.

Maybe I’m an awful person. Or maybe because I knew it was coming.
Alice leans forward and kisses her mother’s dry, blue lips.

Or maybe it was because I knew it was my turn next.
She pulls away from her mother.


Alice tucks her mother’s body in with a blanket. Shifts it so it faces a FRAMED PORTRAIT – an idolized vision of a man, DAVID, 30s.
In the faded 1970s style bunker, everything is old and doesn’t look like it could ever be clean again. Still, Alice dusts the shelves, doing her best.
She removes a hand-made banner that reads “Happy 16th Birthday, Alice!” She folds it carefully, placing it with love in a drawer.
She arranges the few books. Straightens some tchotchkes.

Wipes down the screen of an out-dated COMPUTER.

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Jennie Jarvis

Jennie Jarvis is an award-winning author and screenwriter. She has appeared in Writer’s Digest Magazine and The Florida Writer, and she teaches writing at Full Sail University. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte.

Contributions by Jennie Jarvis