It doesn’t really matter how I died. It was stupid. I ate some hazelnut frosting at a birthday party for my coworker. Anaphylactic. Very tragic. Boom dead.
What matters, though, is the stuff I left behind.
After my funeral, all my stuff was donated, all these pieces of me scattered like ash to the wind. Nobody wanted my random secondhand shit, or doodles, or to read through my precious diary I always intended to burn before dying. No, what they wanted was my clothes. The Burberry trench coat my Great Aunt Selma gave me one year on my birthday. The pair of red ballet flats I bought in Paris. And, my piece-de-resistance, my one perfectly fitting pair of curvy petite jeans. The kind that hug your ass like cellophane packaging.
Me and my curvy petite jeans, we lived a whole life together; first dates with schmucks, hearing the news of my old babysitter’s passing, strutting down the street after triumphantly quitting my first job. So of course, I couldn’t have someone else sliding into them. All week, I ravage the Goodwill with chaos. That price tag that says $180? That was me. Burying the jeans at the bottom of the childrens toy bin? A stroke of genius (until they were discovered). The fire alarm going off right as that rock climbing bro dares to sully my jeans with his chalky fingers? Me. Me. Me. Good god, I loved being the Goodwill Ghost.
And then, little Sally Sue comes in and throws everything to shit. Her shoulders are slumped inside of her loose-fitting red flannel. She has a backpack on (even though you’re not supposed to have a backpack in the Goodwill) with a button on it that says “Save the Frogs!” I look her up and down. Sally Sue could really use a pick me up. Sally Sue is currently having a bad day. Sally Sue is. Fuck. No. Sally Sue is currently picking up my jeans.
I can’t let this happen. She saunters over thirstily to the changing stalls. Just as she pulls down her own ill-fitting, ratty corduroys, I slide back the lock and the door swings open. The whole Goodwill world can see her in her lime green granny panties. She flinches like a mouse in a trap and slams the door shut.
I can’t help myself. I’m not proud of it. I go on a rampage. All the lights in the Goodwill start to flicker according to my will. I send everything flying with my gale-force winds. Bike tires flung across the room. Novelty Christmas mugs smashed against the fluorescent lights. Harry Potter-themed legos strewn all across the floor like a parent’s worst nightmare. Oh, Sally Sue, you best believe you’re not in Kansas anymore. Sally Sue takes cover behind a giant painting of a bowl of fruit, still clutching my jeans with her claws. She is the Hector to my Achilles.
And that’s precisely when she finds my heel. In the midst of my ghastly chaos, Sally Sue’s backpack slips open and all her contents spill out, guts on the floor. An AP calc textbook. A duct-tape wallet with a printout of Captain Planet on one side and Dragon Ball Z on the other. And a picture of Sally Sue laughing with her mom the morning she picked her up from YMCA sleepaway camp eight years ago. Sally Sue’s antemortem ashes scattered on the linoleum flooring.
I know that look. The horror of your stuff scattered to the wind. The determination to keep your shit together. Without knowing what I’m doing, hats drop to the floor. Lights reemerge to illuminate the mess. The gale subsides. At long last, a Shawn Mendes song returns to the loudspeakers and the people scuttle out. And our dear Sally Sue, arms crossed and gaze fixed downward, heads towards the door. In a moment of quick thinking, I dare one last trick. I stealthily unzip the top container of her backpack, and slide in my perfect curvy petite jeans. On the house.
Sophia Sanchez is a writer, software engineer, and sourdough bread baker living in San Francisco, CA.