Oregon Writing Project: Fabulous Autobiography

As I do my homework to prepare for the Summer Institute of the Oregon Writing Project at Willamette University, I thought I'd post my attempts here. Today's Prompt: "Fabulous Autobiography: create a one paragraph autobiography of the life you could dream of living if you weren’t so busy living this life. Be imaginative and tell your untrue autobiography." I couldn't quite stick to the one paragraph limit (Surprise!). Let me know what you think:

…and, strange as it may sound, at that moment I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” He’d said that to a group of striking garbage men. In a way, that was precisely my vocation. It caused me to reflect on the life I might have lived, had I made other choices. What if I’d married my girlfriend in college, Paige, the one with the quick wit and the large brown eyes? Might we have had a child together? Would he have had her eyes, or mine? And what job might I have had? Would I, perhaps, have taken a job as a high school English teacher, and in that position taught that very quote to students somewhere, as a way to motivate them to focus on their work in the classroom and their own occupations in the future?

I shook my head. Clearly, though she looked to all the world like a woman who was merely sleeping, the creature before me was tricking me, using her powers to encourage my mind wander from my present task so she could buy precious minutes until sunset. No, the trash had to be taken out.

I carefully set the point of the wooden stake in its place on her chest. She didn’t stir as it dimpled her skin. Then I raised the mallet and struck it. The stake pierced the soft flesh, then the cartilage and bone of her sternum, then the un-beating heart. She thrashed and tried to rise up, but I held onto the stake and pushed her down. Leaning her head back, she screamed. The sound echoed off the walls of the mausoleum, bouncing through the door, across the graveyard of the small Coptic church, and up between the high crags of Eastern Anatolia, where the Pontus and Taurus mountain ranges meet. The haunting, inhuman sound reverberated off the mountains, and persisted longer than any human’s could.

“Oh, shut up,” I said, more irritated than frightened, since I’d heard that sound a hundred times before. I raised the machete to finish the job. The first cut sank all the way through her neck and stuck in the base of the coffin below, but, as is often the case when I slice a tomato in my kitchen back in London, some bit of flesh held on, and this was enough to keep her alive, allowing the nearly severed head to continue screaming. I pried the machete free, raised it again, and finished the day’s work, watching her body dissolve into dust in a matter of seconds.

As I climbed out of the mausoleum, I thought of her last gambit, her desperate attempt to hold on to her half-life, and I admit I doubted the dignity of my chosen profession.