And for years after...

A prose experiment inspired by Ted Kooser, and by my friends Paul and Kathryn (and our conversation yesterday about why a sentence would begin with and.)

And for years after she died, I would wake in the night, shocked with a clarity stark as a lightning strike: Oh, her, that girl, she died.

As though, most of the time, in daylight at the very least, I could imagine her death impersonally, something that happened to someone else, no one I loved, nothing to do with me. As if she had hired someone to die for her, or to enact her death. Not one of those rich men in the Civil War hiring a poorer man to take his place in the draft. Something more like hiring a body double, or a stunt double for a role in a movie. My cousin, that sweet girl, freshening her makeup in the star's trailer, while her double plunges from the cliff, rams the Mustang convertible into the wall, kickboxes with the villain.

And after the shock of it, lying there, wide awake in the dark, I would begin to make again my compromise with her death, sinking back into disbelief, and sleep, a leaf very very slowly falling from a tree to the ground. Soothing myself back to sleep. Not her. Not her. Not her.