First Taste of Death

(Note: the following is an excerpt from my debut novel, Canswer. It is a work of fiction and based on no one. It is a comedy about death and how society deals with it. It is available as an ebook from Amazon.)

“Dearly beloved,” Mum says with a completely straight face. “We are gathered here today to remember the life of Goldie.”

Mum and I stand over a mound of disturbed soil in the far corner of our backyard. There is a slight breeze and the sun is making its descent into the horizon. A makeshift cross – just twigs from the garden, bound together with some old yarn that we got out of Mum’s craft box – juts out of the earth at an odd angle, threatening to fall if the wind gets any stronger.

I am five years old and this is my first taste of death.

Mum presses on with the eulogy for a goldfish that survived less than a week. “Although your time with us was relatively short, you impacted so many lives in such a positive way.”

Mum places a hand on my shoulder. It instantly makes me feel warm and safe. “Goldie, you will most certainly be missed.”

“Mum?” I ask as she leads me into the house, not once taking her hand off my shoulder.

“Yes, Dear?”

“Why do things die?”

Mum stops, squats down to meet my eye level.

“Nothing lasts forever, Dylan.”

“Are you going to die?” I ask.

“Well, yes,” Mum replies. “Though not for a very long time.”

“When?” I quiz. “The year Three Thousand? That’s a very long time. That’s when I want you to live to.”

A warm smile lights up mum’s face. “Thank you Honey, but that’s an awfully long time to be alive, don’t you think?”

“We’ll both live till Three Thousand, Mum, you’ll see.”

Mum smiles, tells me to go inside and wash up for dinner.