First Page Clinic: death isn’t this boring, I promise

CB: Confessions of a Pillar of Salt

I’ve been dead for ten minutes of my life. Punch this up. For such an interesting intro, it lacks oomph. Instead of a dark, cryptic “I know what it feels like to die,” this sounds more like “I had mono in college.”

First time I died was a week before my second birthday. I’d start this sentence with “the.” Give us at least a line or two to get oriented before such casual narration. Otherwise it starts off reading like an email. I stood on a chair mashing my nose against a bug-screen, with glass panes of what? open to let in crisp spring Oregon air wordy, and watched birds flit around rose bushes overlooking Portland’s skyline a story below. My cunt of a mom Is her cuntness going to be something I wish I’d figured out for myself? Probably. Still totally reading, though. clattered cutlery in the kitchen, ignoring me as she blared NPR. It was during Larry from Ord, Nebraska’s gravely diatribe on how feminists ripped the moral fabric of America that the fabric of my mesh ripped. Maybe my career as a pilot was birthed in those moments of being airborne. Paramedics found me snagged halfway down the hill in blackberry brambles, strapped my battered body to a rescue board, and hiked up. I died near the hill’s ridge. I was dead for four minutes before they brought back. Cool, but this last line’s more disappointing than suspenseful. Instead of “I was dead for four minutes,” try giving us something

Second time I died I was in sixth grade. My body cooked itself to kill invading pneumoniatic  spirochetes. The hospital’s solution to the fever was simple: neck-deep in a bathtub filled of ice. Not large square cubes but a slurry of industrial crushed-ice slushy hash, digested by an ice machine’s internal whirling blades.  Nurses saturated my bloodstream with aspirin until they knew my brain’s proteins wouldn’t coagulate and curl like cooked egg whites. Ugh. Right on. It hurt to inhale: my condensed breath skimmed [what] as ragged curling ghosts of steam melting my encasing ice. I hyperventilated until I passed out. Then my heart said ‘screw it’ and quit. Don’t use single quotes for no reason. If you’re just quoting your pissed-off heart, use doubles. After the nurses revived me, I’d been dead for three minutes. Again, there’s something missing, and not in a what-happens-next way, but in a do-I-trust-this guy-with-his -story one.

I’d keep reading, though.


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