What We Call the Dead Girl by Christina Tudor

The dead girl once lived on Beach Drive in a suburban neighborhood surrounded by oak trees, and she would die on Victory Street one town over. The dead girl came from a good family with a backyard that stretched out wide. The dead girl was once a Girl Scout until she quit, leaving a voicemail for the troop leader on a Tuesday evening. The dead girl had a body everybody noticed, their eyes burning into her skin, even the girls couldn’t look away; they whispered about her as she walked by, taller than the rest. The dead girl had a chest that peaked through the top of her shirt, couldn’t be contained, wore a bra in the 5th grade and everyone looked. They blamed her for not making her body be different. The dead girl kissed boys in her car, or so it was rumored—even now boys tell their friends they once slept with the dead girl, said she was easy and looking for any kind of love. The dead girl took long walks along high-speed roads in the summer, a strip of sun guiding her; she walked heel-toe-heel-toe along the shoulder. The dead girl went to school and took her SATs and learned to drive and applied to college. The dead girl went rock climbing once or twice or maybe more it’s hard to say. The dead girl took photos on one of those DSLR cameras everyone bought before iPhones and Instagram. If she didn’t become the dead girl, she’d be just like anyone else. The dead girl died unexpectedly in the night the September after high school graduation and no one knew what questions to ask, or rather they knew to ask nothing because girls who have not yet left their teens are not supposed to be dead and do not die of natural causes. The dead girl was doing drugs with a man twice her age, or at least that’s what people said. The dead girl was doing drugs, and police would later find them stuffed in the glove compartment of her Nissan, a pink rubber band twisted around the plastic bag. The dead girl was doing the drugs a lot of people did in this town as evidenced by the spate of break-ins and car thefts, or so it was assumed but no one knows for sure. The dead girl is what we call her now because we have forgotten how to think about her as anything else. Since we know how the dead girl’s story ends, we tell it backwards like she is just a tragedy waiting to happen.

CHRISTINA TUDOR — Christina is a writer, digital communications professional, and vegan taco enthusiast living in Washington, D.C. Her fiction has been featured in or is forthcoming from HAD, The Daily Drunk, The Lumiere Review, and more. She can be reached on Twitter @christinaltudor.

Art by DAEGAN LUNSFORD –Daegan is a multidisciplinary artist living in Canada. He works in photography, gouache painting, and printmaking with lino in a traditional woodcut style. His art focuses on delight, nostalgia, Americana and the Southern Gothic. Instagram: @daeganlunsfordofficial.