Why I Faked My Funeral
A Short Story by Doug Dean
Written using the suggestion "Funeral"
Originally featured on 05-11-2007
As part of our series "Endings"

I faked my funeral for many reasons. But the main reason was Carly Rothstein. She’s my first crush.

This story isn’t going to paint a flattering picture of me. I’m currently ducking behind a headstone watching my ma cry in my father’s arms. I did this to them for a girl. No, it isn’t going to be flattering. But I’ll do my best to be honest. Heck, I’ll be honest — I’m dead, right? No point in lying now.

We’ve only lived here in the city for a few months. My family’s originally from a small town in Eastern Oregon. But three months ago, we moved to the big city. My dad got a job that he found on the Internet making triple what he was making back there. He’s a carpenter. My ma and me were pretty upset at first. He told us that you got to fish where the fish are, and the stream is overflowin’ out in there in Portland. A few days later, he got in his truck and left and then we were left to pack up everything we owned and follow him in a couple of weeks. I overheard my ma talking to Aunt Betsy the night he left. I was in the family room messing with my fishing pole. Thinking about if I should keep it or not. She told Aunt Betsy had a good mind to stay right where she was. I didn’t know what to think when she said that. I do like my dad.

She calmed down though, and a couple weeks later we had it all packed up. I ended up bringing the pole. I never got to use it though, since my Aunt Betsy stole it yesterday for my cousin Earl. I watched her from the branch by my window as she stole it right out of my room. I wouldn’t really mind except I know Earl’s got like three poles already and my dad might have wanted it back. Right now, Aunt Betsy is patting my Ma on the back and shaking her head. She’s not crying.

When we made it out here, my dad had already been working with his new crew for a little bit. He had made some new friends and was going out to socialize with them a few nights a week. Meanwhile, Ma was working on making the house nice for us. I didn’t see them much. It took a few days, but then I had to start school again.

My ma bought me some new clothes to help me fit in, new dungarees and a sweatshirt. When she was dropping me off, she told me that I shouldn’t wait to make friends. I nodded and shut the door to the truck. But I remember standing there thinking I didn’t really know how to make friends. I just kind of always had friends. She was waiting for me to go in, so I waved and turned to walk towards the school. Walking up the stairs, I felt like everyone was trying to bump into me or keep from getting in. I didn’t want to bump anybody so I stood there on the second step as people walked around me or stood right in front of me while saying Hi to their friends. Eventually, the bell rang and we were all late. Nobody cared but me from what I could tell. So I pushed through the crowd.

Inside, I found the office and walked in. After another while of waiting at the front desk, I asked a nice lady where I needed to go and she sent me to a different desk on the other side of the office. This time I didn’t wait and asked the lady right away where I needed to go and they said Room 15. I knew I was late, but they told me again that I needed to go right to class. Like I had just shown up.

I know that this sounds like it doesn’t explain why I faked my funeral, but let me tell you that in Room 15 was Carly Rothstein. She was plump, her hair was knotty and she smelled like outside the Pork Shack back home. I was real lucky cause the teacher told me to sit in the desk right behind her and I got to smell her for the next twenty-three minutes. When the bell rang, I found out her name. I thought she had freckles when I first walked in, but after looking closer I saw that it was dried specks of mud. I figured she must ride her bike a lot just like me. And that sealed the deal on my first crush.

Carly didn’t have any of the same classes as me except for that one. So when school was over, I waited near the stairs to see if she’d come out the same door as me. I figured we could put her bike in the back of our truck and give her a ride. I watched all the kids come out the stairs and most got on buses. Before I saw Carly, my Ma came honking and I had to go.

On the ride home, my Ma asked me if I had made any friends. I hadn’t and I thought about telling her about Carly but I didn’t really know what to say. I liked the way she looked and she smelled so good but I didn’t know how to tell my Ma I was smelling the people at school but still had no friends. So I just said no. She mussed my hair and told me I would soon and on the way home we got ice cream cones.

Watching my Ma crying on my daddy’s shoulder, I’m thinking that this story ain’t flattering at all and I’m gonna hurry it up a bit so as to save a little dignity.

Over the next couple of weeks, it seemed like people were bumping into me more and more. They wanted me to apologize and I said no and I had a couple of fights. One time at lunch, I saw Carly standing over by window. A couple of eight-grade boys, I guess I can say their names — Billy Steves and Ryan Thomason — crept up on her I was sure they were going to do something mean. It was Pork Sandwich day and they were both holding their sandwiches like baseballs.

I charged over there and tackled Ryan Thomason. I punched him until he let go of his Pork Sandwich and by then I had a security guard holding me. I saw Carly turn and she had been crying. She didn’t have pork on her but I thought that Billy Steves had still followed through on the ambush somehow.

When they let me go, I told her what happened and she promised she wouldn’t forget about me. I found out the next day that Carly had been crying because she found out she was moving all the way to Japan. Her dad had found a job on the Internet and told Carly that you have to strike while the iron’s hot. All I knew was that my first crush was gone.

So I figured I would find out if she really cared. I rode my bike a couple of miles away and then stole the car in the middle of the night and drove over it. I put the car back and left a note on my bed saying that I needed to get some fresh air. I drew them the route of my ride. When they found the bike and the hot sauce — did I forget the hot sauce? Well they assumed the worst.

Read More By Doug Dean

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