by Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri
Mrs. Rabinowitz replaced the rug with her dead daughter, Rachel. She laid her in the living room. Every night, she’d talk to her daughter, instead of preparing for the next day’s tasks. She’d talk until the moon rose and fell. She told Rachel about losing a teaching job after smoking dope in the teacher’s lounge, about the rant against Mother’s Day that had gotten her fired from another position, other jobs she’d drifted through, at a burger joint, a movie theater, jobs that were just temporary way stations on the road to something better.
“But what that is,” she admitted once, staring at her daughter, who smiled beatifically, even though she was decomposing rapidly, “I don’t fucking know.”
Her daughter just stared back at her. Still smiling. She looked so young, looked frozen in time, as if she might wake. And Mrs. Rabinowitz kept talking, talking, talking as if the train hadn’t run down her Rachel on her way to temple. She never admitted that she missed her daughter, nor wept, for those were signs of absolute weakness, Rachel had always said. She kept losing jobs, and then her home, but she kept talking to Rachel.
One night, she reluctantly scooped up her daughter. Rachel was now a pile of bones. Mrs. Rabinowitz tenderly held her daughter’s remains beneath the moonlight.
“Good night,” she whispered, digging a pit in the park, the wind blowing, tree branches shifting like skeletons, dancing in the night.