A recently-dead person long gone.

A celebration of their life.

I’m the corpse, the corpse at the lectern.

Four years of restless, sticky sleep and waking with a weighted soul, and I’m empty. My grief was siphoned slowly. I say idle words and they float and drift like embers in this echoing chamber.

I’m a hollow, living-dead person, hungry to care for myself.

After the second stroke, I raged. Angry that it hadn’t killed her but made her needier. Angry at her, for her, her entombment, her reduction to biology.

We didn’t talk. She couldn’t.

I couldn’t look in her eyes for over a year. The last time I did, I saw through pooled water to the back of her skull.

A month before the end, she tried to feed herself some pudding, and only managed to wipe it over her chin. It sat like a goatee. I cackled. She moaned. I left it there for three, maybe four minutes. I stopped myself from taking a photo on my phone.

The guilt I felt pierced deep. I put my head in my hands and screamed. It was the only time anybody came by the house in four years, and it was to tell me to stop, to be quiet, to ask me what the fuck was wrong with me.

I was quiet for four years, minus a few minutes.

I prayed for it to end, and my prayer was answered.

They’re all here now, in rows of vain tradition, but she slid down to that abyss alone, with no company but me. Every moment, me. And every day it was less of me.

I try a smile for the audience, and aptly, as a fitting tribute, the muscles of my mouth don’t respond.