The Man Who Reads Obituaries

by Diane Lynn McGyver

Quarter Castle Publishing

Genre: Fiction-Short Story-Contemporary

Published: June 25, 2012

ISBN (eBook; approximately 3,900 words): 978-0-9880624-1-2

Available in eBook format at Smashwords, iTunes and Barnes & Noble


Grace Louisa Fraser. Six…I closed my eyes to stall the water. So young. Innocent. She hardly had time to get her feet wet in the cruel world of life. Her two younger siblings would never know her, not even remember her in a dozen years. I continued to read, stopping at Donations to the Canadian Cancer Society can be made in Grace’s name.

The parasite fed on the old, the young…the middle-aged. I glanced at the incomplete obituary on the bedside table. The few words at the end of Grace’s obituary provided strangers with the name of her Grim Reaper, the same who would deliver me. I reached for the looseleaf, sluggishly circled the crossed out ending to my obituary and wrote KEEP beside it. For Grace Louisa Fraser. Six.

Morris, Laurence Aiden—48, Dartmouth, has waited more than six months for this day. Still, he’s unsure if he is ready to make the journey to Heaven…or Hell. Something is missing, but he can’t fathom what. While he bides his time, he reads the obituaries, playing his game of Heaven or Hell.


Footsteps disrupted my thoughts, and clicking shoes entered the room. Without opening my eyes, I knew it to be young Maggie Mac…something, a young woman gifted with beauty but not tolerance for the dying. She stopped near the bed. A whiff of her perfume permeated the air as she leant forward, checking to see if the devil had claimed me yet.

Seeing no response or lack of breathing she tossed an object on the bed beside me—my morning news—then fiddled with the IV tube. She cursed under her sweet breath, removed the full bag of yellow liquid hanging on the bedrail and replaced it with another plastic urinal. After a few quick movements, more curse words and running water, she returned to the bedside.

A long pause followed and I wondered if she pitied my deteriorating body or cursed me for hanging on for so long. What right did I have for ruining her day so early in the morning? Could I not just die and be done with it? Ah, sweet, Maggie, if you only knew how much I wanted you to pull out the tubes to my lifeline and let cancer finish the job it had started more than six months ago.

Maggie turned but not before her fingernails clicked the edge of the dish on the bedside table, snatching one of the few remaining saltwater taffies. Take it, my dear. They are no good to me now with my strength for chewing the delicious treat gone forever. Enjoy it. Consider it a gift from a dying man you can’t wait to rid yourself of.

2 thoughts on “The Man Who Reads Obituaries

  1. Pingback: It’s all in the Word | Roots to the Past

  2. Pingback: What are your thoughts worth? | Roots to the Past

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