All the Dead Things Come Back to Haunt Me After You Leave

All the Dead Things Come Back to Haunt Me After You Leave

The snake I decapitated because you said, Better safe than sorry. Upon closer inspection we both agreed, he was a garter snake and no real danger. We watched his body writhe and wriggle. I saw you get so close. I thought you might reach your outstretched finger into his gaping mouth. I waited for it to snap shut. 


The 3 month old fetus, I took to the funeral home to be cremated after your first D&C. You asked the doctor, What is going to happen to it? Once it’s out? 

Medical waste, ma’am. 

When the doctor left, you wet the shoulder of my shirt with your tears. What does that mean, you kept repeating. 

The doctor handed me the box of remains while you woke asking for food, anything to eat. The nurse gave you apple juice in a little box with a folding straw and a few fig newtons. You craved fig newtons and apple juice for months. 

I asked if you wanted to keep the ashes. You left them in the closet on the high shelf in the back where you couldn’t reach until you made me pour them into the toilet because we watched that movie where the kids sing songs and laugh after flushing their mother’s ashes down the airport toilet.


The mosquito eater I squashed into the ceiling late one night our first March. His guts made a brown blood smear against the blue you insisted would make the room feel bigger. You asked me three times to clean the smudge off the ceiling. I said I would but I kept forgetting. I think this is one reason. 


The dead rabbit you found stuck in the gutter pipe in the early morning, I shoveled over the fence into the brush behind the house. You screamed so loud I came running out with the old baseball bat we kept behind the door. His legs and cottontail were stuck between the pipe and the concrete. His forelegs were free and outstretched.

I tried to dislodge him by pushing his body out with the flat end of a shovel. You held the collar of your t-shirt over your mouth and squealed. His muscles and bones glurgled under the force of the shovel. I imagined it running right through him and a foul liquid streaming out. I didn’t want to touch him. 

You said, Why don’t you just put on a pair of gloves and pull him out? 

I gave you a look. 

The dead rabbit’s eyes, turned dull and misty in the afternoon heat, opaque like two tiny marbles, looked everywhere and nowhere all at once. I fished an old dog leash out of the junk drawer. We didn’t need it anymore. Gloves on, I looped the leash around the rabbit’s upper body and tried to yank him free. His face caved in from the pressure. You screeched behind me, made a big show with your gagging noises. He came out all right, in one big piece with a few good tugs. He sailed over the fence and disappeared into the brush. 

You said, May the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen. Your laugh drifted away on the wind. 


The puppy we thought we saved with $1250 from the pet store in the mall, I buried in the backyard in a shoebox. She had something we didn’t catch. You cried for 3 days. Then, you painted a stone and laid it in the mound of fresh dirt covering the shoebox. No Name, you painted on the stone. We couldn’t agree, so we buried her, No Name. 


About the Author

Kari Treese received her MFA from Mills College. She teaches math during the day and eats words at night. Kari's a fish person, for whatever that's worth. Her work has appeared in CHEAP POP, Hobart, Pithead Chapel, Lunch Ticket, Rivet, and others. She tweets @kari_treese.

Photo, "Garter Snake," by Jassen on Flickr. No changes made to photo.