This is my first time submitting my work! Looking for ANY kind of feedback on this piece I started a couple of days ago.
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Death is so often black and white, but Wren didn’t write in primary colors. She woke up that morning knowing she wouldn’t be going to sleep again, and yet, had no words to describe the feeling. In fact, she was so disappointed that it felt so much like a normal day, and not like the explosion of colors that she expected, that she considered going back to sleep and trying the whole thing again tomorrow.
But she didn’t. For whatever reason, she got up that morning, she washed her hair that morning, she got dressed that morning, she left to get coffee that morning, and she neglected to watch the news that morning.
She was honey blonde and she lived to be forgotten. She wore glasses to hide behind them, and her apartment had plants, but no artwork. There were no photographs, no magazine subscriptions, no birthday cards from friends on the refrigerator.
Wren supposed that knowing you were going to die was like knowing you had a surprise party waiting for you when you got home. Thinking about it that way provided a little comfort, and she set to work staging the scene.
She told me once in our brief encounter that she admired the 1940s actress Lupe Velez, not for her body of work but for her attempt to stage her own suicide. If you happen to take the time to research Lupe Velez, you learn that this staging not only didn’t take, but also was most likely an urban legend.
But Wren also told me that she didn’t want the police or her family to walk into a messy apartment, she’d wanted it to be immaculate—and to her credit, I imagine that she packed up the whole place in cardboard boxes, taped shut and labeled in her slanting cursive. She wanted her death to feel more like she walked into the ocean and weighed herself down, like Virginia Woolf, or just willed herself to death, like she claimed Sylvia Plath did.
Wren wanted to be more artistic than she actually was in life. She couldn’t write, her journals were rambling and littered with incorrectly-used words. Her paintings were Picasso-esque disasters in varying shades of brown. Her musical compositions—if you could even call them that—were symphonies of racket.
She supposed that if she couldn’t do anything worthwhile in life, she could at least be remembered by the precise way in which she died. That’s the way I want to remember Wren for this brief few minutes: pretentious, boring, and meticulous.
But that morning after stacking her last box, she put on the pair of shoes that hadn’t found a permanent carboard home yet, grabbed her bag, and left her small apartment—locking the door behind her, mind you.
She went to the usual place for coffee that morning and got her usual order. Though instead of sitting down, she left to walk with it.
Nobody was in a rush that morning, which may read as a surprise to you now, but at the time, all the fight had left us. Those of us that remained had seen the effects of the Crisis firsthand. We’d dealt with revolutions, wars, famine, peace talks, and the repetition of this cycle. More had happened in the last 10 years than had happened in the 100 before that.
But Wren? She was defined by her overwhelming desire to be totally selfless, but her almost simultaneous backwards slide into completely selfish behavior on each and every decision.
Wren would probably have said we were best friends. She hardly registered on my radar. In fact, we knew each other so briefly that I couldn’t tell you with certainty that her hair was honey blonde. Was it honey blonde? Or was it more of a smoky brunette? Could “smoky” even be used to describe the exact tonal shade?
My relationship to her was brief and uneventful—almost clinical in its both thoroughness and thoughtlessness.
When we spoke that morning, she was resigned to the fact that today was her last day. “Resigned” even seems too passive. When she sat down in the plush leather chair, staring at me across my desk, her eyes seemed both too large and too shiny to be human.
I asked for her paperwork. She wordlessly handed it over, bound in a manila folder and carefully paperclipped. The front page listed her name as “Warren, Miranda. DOB: 4/25/2076”, meaning she had both invented a first name, and added 4 years onto her age—not uncommon for Volunteers.
The first thing she said to me was, “My family don’t know that I’m a Volunteer.”