When the body dropped from the sky, Emmy knew the world was ending.
Emmy was in the garden harvesting mushrooms under the Oak, surrounded by a plain that emanated into infinity when it happened.
The Body landed with a sickening thump and crack ten feet to her left. Its eyes (it wasn’t a human anymore) bulged out—vulgar, deformed marbles oozing blood. Long, sopping hair sat sideways atop its head like clumps of seaweed. Its broken jaw hung by a thin swath of skin from the decaying, leathery face.
Emmy breathed in its sickly-sweet smell mingled with that of the earthy mushrooms. That smell was worse than the scent of that dead chicken that Emmy and—who else?— had found in the backyard that day (what day?), when putrid, sweet decay—rot doused in cheap perfume—had cemented itself in Emmy’s nostrils as the smell of Death.
Just as Emmy thought of Death, a resounding crack echoed through the valley. The earth beneath Emmy quivered, its anxiety bleeding into the soles of Emmy’s boots. Bile rose into Emmy’s throat and she vomited, but it didn’t matter. Maybe yesterday—what happened yesterday?—it mattered, but today, it wasn’t important. The only matter of importance was the Body and the End of Things.
It needs me. The thought bored into her core. Emmy slung the bloody heap across her shoulders.
All she could focus on now was getting the Body far away from the mushrooms and the thoughts of Death, to the House (the House?) Emmy hadn’t remembered until it had always been there.
As she ran, a weight settled on her shoulder, but it wasn’t the Body. It was something—much heavier than a Body, but—why couldn’t she think of it?
The sky shook with vehemence, a cold scolding for not protecting her sister. Her sister! That’s it.
With every step, her sister’s face became clearer—she had a smile—or a smirk—and it was cruel, wasn’t it?— malicious eyes and fingers with long, long, nails like the talons of a vulture, and oh—Emmy wished to forget her again!
Emmy’s steps slowed as she neared the front porch. This was Home, wasn’t it? Emmy looked around. Behind her, the field fell away into nothing. Emmy let go of the Body. It thudded to the ground.
Looking at the Body, she thought. I must save her. Wait, Her?
But Emmy could see it now—the thing had lumpy breasts, shriveled protuberant lips, mangled hair. It was a Her. And, inexplicably, Emmy realized she knew it.
The mist that clouded her mind didn’t budge, obscuring her semblance of reality like a dense fog. Move, thought Emmy, but even her thoughts were slurred and slow.
Emmy stepped towards the door—the sky darkened and its darkness forced itself into her, ate away at her insides. She ground her teeth together, fighting the sky and her sister. Her sister?
Emmy’s eyes shot open with horror, laser-focused on the Body. It was Her. The Body is my sister.
Then everything went black.
For Ari, it started with drugs. The drugs and all the late nights and sneaking out and police finding her passed out on lawns.
Emmy tried to stop her, to keep her sister Ari from getting into too much trouble. Emmy failed.
Emmy liked to pretend. She liked to pretend Ari didn’t beat her; she liked to pretend her mom was home; she liked to pretend she wasn’t secretly jealous of her. Later, when they both grew up, Emmy pretended she didn’t have a sister. Until she went to court.
It shouldn’t have been that hard. Emmy spent her whole life pretending. But one look in her sister’s deranged eyes and Emmy cried, “She’s a liar, judge—she’ll always be guilty!”
Emmy betrayed her. Guilt weighed on Emmy, ate away at her sanity. Sleepless night bled into sleepless night—until the night a hammer slammed into her skull and the world fell away into her childhood home, into the End of Things.
When Emmy opened her eyes, she was in the Lake of Fire. Like the song from Nirvana, she thought deliriously. A reddish-brown haze emanating from the frothing liquid surface she was half-submerged in stung her eyes—or at least, they should’ve, but—she couldn’t feel anything.
Where do bad folks go when they die?
High black walls encircled her. Above them, a figure in a gas mask shoved a stick into the liquid.
A white thing resembling a piece of bread slowly dissolved before her. At first, she was troubled (why?) until the realization dawned on her: It’s my skin.
They don’t go to Heaven where the angels fly.
Emmy shrieked; her thoughts flew apart—what happened to the Body? Why was her skin flaking off? Why was she was being cooked by—
She saw the figure crouching over the cauldron, sprinkling in little rounds resembling mushrooms. It had long nails. Like a vulture.
The Body’s my sisterhood. And it died a long time ago. But—I didn’t mean to hurt her. Emmy thought.
They go down to the lake of fire and fry.
Emmy felt her soul drifting away, but what was here for her but guilt and Ari?
Maybe it would be better to give in to the End of Things. The end of sisterhood. The end of life.
Emmy took one last look at her sister and closed her eyes, letting the world fall away.
See ‘em again ‘til the fourth of July.