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Desirae Terrien

I Lived in a Hearse

I got it for a good price, too. A friend
who’s in that sort of business hooked me up.
I got a used one—gently used (one must
be gentle in that line of work)—and moved
there on a shoestring budget. Used ones are
a steal, because what sicko wants a hearse
that’s carried strangers’ corpses to the grave?
Like, wouldn’t there be ghosts in it? (There were
no ghosts there—just the ones I brought with me.)
The scent of yesterday’s formaldehyde
was easily subdued with pine, perfume,
and pizza. And it’s not like anyone
had died in there. Sure, plenty had been dead
in it, but no one died there. You know where
they die? They die in crappy studio
apartments swamped in student debt, that’s where.
There comes a point where hearses start to look
a little too inviting. So I pulled
the trigger. That old hearse cost just a third
of the vampiric rent I used to pay
each month. The other two thirds were enough
to fix the inside up, all homey-like.
A bed fit perfectly where caskets used
to lie. A change of curtains, camping tools,
some insulation—I was set. (And there
was hardly any mileage on the thing.)
I dwelled there for a year upon the road.
It was my home: reliable, unique,
imposing, almost chic. (A morbid chic,
but I felt swanky as a Rat Pack wink
within that stately exoskeleton
of darkly sleek mystique.) I must have been
a mystifying sight on interstates,
at gas stations, or Wal-Mart parking lots.
At red lights, other drivers used to turn
their heads and gawk at me, and I would tip
my sunglasses and grin right back and hang
an elbow out the window: Yeah, admire
my Death-Mobile. Some nights I’d have to rest
parallel parked in neighborhoods and then
be gone by sunrise. Night-owls strolling past
the silhouette would sometimes catch a glimpse
and hurry on along the sidewalk, heads
together, speaking in a sudden hush.
To them I maybe seemed a Grim Chauffeur
plotting my route to take them on a one-
way trip. They didn’t know—how could they—that
my so-called Death-Mobile no longer drove
the dead. No. I’m still very much alive.

About the Author

Desirae Terrien is a speech-language pathology graduate student from Southern California. Nominated for the 2018 Best of the Net Anthology, her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in NonBinary Review, Dying Dahlia Review, Cattails, and 34 Orchard.

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