“I’ll meet you for coffee at our favorite cafe,” Donna choked her words out through smoke damaged lungs, to her sister Katie, who checked her her phone again.
“Yeah, I’ll tell Mom and Dad you died. See ya,” Katie said as she placed her hand on her sister’s burned-to-a-crisp arm and turned to leave. Katie had seen Donna die at least five times this year, and it was becoming a serious inconvenience. Katie had been called every time to identify the body or possibly speak to Donna before she died. It was always the same though, make sure her plants got watered, the cat got fed, and to meet at their cafe for coffee later. It was hard for Katie to keep her eyes from rolling when she heard Donna had slept with a cigarette and lit herself on fire.
On her way home from the dead body collection point, Katie walked past Ed the jumper. On the last Saturday of the month at approximately 6pm, Ed jumps from the highest bridge in Katie’s town, falling face first into concrete. Katie once asked him why he did it and he explained that it was just time for him to be dead, like the old days, when people died forever. So he kept himself dead as much as possible by immediately killing himself when he was reborn. Over the years Katie noticed that while Ed’s body repaired itself and looked to be functioning properly, he had become paler and more obsessed with being in his death state. Maybe the state of constant death was bad for Ed’s mind. But Katie didn’t dwell on that thought too much longer, since Ed would be dead in two minutes anyways.
Katie almost made it all the way home, until she remembered Donna’s cat needed to be fed, those creatures died permanently if not cared for Katie remembered as she took a left down an ally next to her home.
“To die or not to die! This is your choice!” A man yelled from a street corner as he waved fliers in Katie’s direction. He shoved a pamphlet into her hands before she could object. The man walked quickly down the street with more pamphlets after a group of unsuspecting pedestrians. Katie was familiar people like him, the “Cryo-nappers,” a slang term for people who freeze themselves in a death like state for an extended period of time in hopes that death will be permanent again when they awaken. Katie tossed the flier, she was pretty sure no one was working on a cure for their semi-perminent death state. Why would they? Death was the ultimate disease. It was cured. There was no undoing it, only living with it.
Katie made it to Donna’s apartment and stopped to text her parents:
“Donna died again. I plan to as well. Check on cat and plant for D. See ya later.”
Katie walked to the nearest busy road, the one that ran across the bridge that Ed liked to jump from and waited for the next slew of traffic. She didn’t have to wait long before a few semi-trucks started to rumble up the incline of the bridge towards her. Katie was bored and quite frankly did not want to deal with anything for the next month, especially if that meant taking care of Donna’s stuff until she returned. Why was she always staying while Donna got a break from life? As a red and white semi-truck approached, Katie left the safety of the curb to position herself in front of it’s path too soon for it to stop or even brake. Before the light left Katie’s eyes she silently prayed it would never return.