Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
The people of this town were just waiting to die. That was Maggie’s favourite thing about it, there was always business. Her husband used to go out at night and dig up someone who wouldn’t be missed. He’d have the body on the table in the basement before midnight. Maggie would strip the corpse of its clothing and its valuables. The clothes would be washed and resold, the valuables pawned off or kept depending on her mood.

Her husband would clean the body up and just as the very first rays of light were creeping over the horizon, a man with a cart would come by and take them away. It was a good living. Maggie and her husband were comfortable and proud of having such an efficient business.

Normally, the work never got to Maggie, but every so often she would buy a candle or a leather purse and wonder if it was someone she knew. That was silly of course, but every time it happened she couldn’t shake the feeling of ghosts hanging around her for days. Her husband understood, and together they’d sit by the fire and sip whiskey until the ghosts went away.

Those days were gone though, just yesterday her husband had keeled over at the breakfast table. Stone dead, just like that. If Maggie had been a superstitious woman, she would have wailed and tore her hair, but she was not a superstitious woman. There was no kin to notify, no children to break the news to, there was just Maggie, suddenly alone at the breakfast table.  

She wished for a moment that she had never given up on God. This was the sort of time that called for prayer. She stared hard across the table, ignoring her cooling breakfast and tried very hard to remember those things she had learned in church a long time ago. The bits and pieces of memory she could scrounge up were not helpful at all, and eventually, frustrated, Maggie whisked the plates off the table and did the dishes.

After that, she dragged her husband’s corpse from the table and slid him down the stairs to the basement. He went with an awful hollow thumping as he hit each step his body folding over itself. Getting him up onto the table in the basement was another challenge. Maggie wasn’t strong enough to lift him straight onto it, but she finagled him up after a half hour with a blanket and a set of chairs. He was starting to get stiff by then so Maggie got his clothes off before his limbs could seize.

She tossed them into the laundry basket. The stain might never come out of the pants, but the shirt at least was salvageable. Cleaning him didn’t take as long as she had imagined, and soon he was laid out quite presentably. Maggie combed his hair the way he liked it but she didn’t dare take a razor to his stubble. The thought of accidentally slicing into his dead flesh was too much for her to bear.

To take her mind off of it, she cleaned the house from top to bottom. Scrubbed the floors, did the laundry, dusted the sitting room and when that was all done she went down stairs to sit with the body. Maggie considered talking to him, but since he couldn’t answer back, she didn’t see the point. So, she sat in silence and thought about the future.

Midnight came and went, and just before the first rays of light could touch the horizon, Maggie heard the sounds of hooves. She met the cart driver at the door, and after the requisite small talk they carried the body up the stairs and loaded it into the cart. Maggie was the one to cover her husband’s face before she watched the cart rumble away, money heavy in her pocket.

In her head, she could hear the echoes of his gruff voice confiding in her ‘Love, whatever happens, don’t let me get on one of those carts. Put me in the ground proper.’ For a moment, Maggie felt a flicker of guilt but she pushed it away, after all, business was business.
For flash fiction friday! You didn't think I'd make it did you? Well I did. My random title took a little bit of thinking to figure out but I found something I liked. I was thinking since Maggie and her husband didn't really know any other way of life, Maggie probably didn't consider actually getting him a funeral, nor, I imagine, would she be overly torn up about it.
Add a Comment:
 

Daily Deviation

Given 2014-06-20
Grave Robber's Dowager by Mertus gives us a glimpse into the life of Maggie, her husband, and their profession. ( Featured by IrrevocableFate )
:iconchipchinka:
Chipchinka Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014   Writer
Oh, I love this! It's so pragmatic and so instructional without being moralistic and smarmy.  It packs a nice emotional and situational punch and it's a glimpse into a world I'm not interested in inhabiting, and yet it's just as compelling as anything in a setting I'd willingly venture into.  In short, this is great.
Reply
:iconmertus:
Mertus Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2014
Ah thank you! I've always hated stories that feel the need to hit you over the head with a moral, so I try to avoid that whole 'smarmy' attitude. The problem is, when it's something you wrote it's hard to say if you've achieved what you want. I certainly never expected this story to be as popular or as well received as it was!
Reply
:iconchipchinka:
Chipchinka Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2014   Writer
It's the same with me; I can't stand it when a writer stops being a writer and becomes a preacher or teacher or somebody up on a soapbox.  It insults the intelligence of the reader, and it insults the art of fiction as well.  This story is a real gem, and it has a really well-developed sense of irony.  It stands up to multiple readings, too.  All of that is a part of why it's good. 
Reply
:iconkirihearts:
KiriHearts Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014
I loved this. :) Definitely deserved the DD!
Reply
:iconmertus:
Mertus Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2014
ah, thank you so much!
Reply
:iconjustbecause62:
JustBecause62 Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
MERTUS YOU GOT A DD WOOP WOOP CONGRATULATIONS
Reply
:iconmertus:
Mertus Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2014
THANK YOU SO MUCH IT WAS SO EXCITING
Reply
:iconjustbecause62:
JustBecause62 Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
:D:D:D:D I FEEL ALL THIS VICARIOUS PRIDE XD
Reply
:icon25--0:
25--0 Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
For one, I'd love to have a book just with this kind of stories :)
Reply
:iconmertus:
Mertus Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2014
I for one, would love to make a book of these kinds of stories
however, I am my own worst enemy and every time I write a story I want to share it with everyone so they can enjoy it right away! It makes it hard to put a book together...
Reply
:icon25--0:
25--0 Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I understand your point. Well, art simply isn't art if it's not seen, isn't?
Reply
:iconmertus:
Mertus Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2014
Exactly, and this stuff I'm proud of but I didn't... work all that hard on it. This story was written on a lunch break at work, it seems wrong to try and make people pay for it. If I were to try and get a book out there those stories would have to be the cream of the crop, some really high quality stuff
Reply
:iconxtcgm:
xtcgm Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2014
CONGRATULATIONS!!!

I wonder why it took so long to award this a DD.  Well deserved and I'm delighted for you a writer whom I have enjoyed for somm time.

Oops! I just said "delighted".
Reply
:iconmertus:
Mertus Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2014
Thank you very much, try not to let all this delight and excitement go to your head, you have a reputation to uphold ;p

Now I think I will bask in the admiration of the masses... ah yes... 
Reply
:iconazelsoras:
Azelsoras Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
WOW. I am just... ASTOUNDED.
This is the level of writing skill I could only dream of having. I'm so jealous. :)
Reply
:iconmertus:
Mertus Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2014
Haha no need to be jealous. Just keep writing, after all you never think you improve until you do! 
Reply
:iconthegalleryofeve:
TheGalleryOfEve Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Congratulations on your well-deserved DD!!! :iconflyingheartsplz::iconlainloveplz::iconflyingheartsplz: :clap::clap::clap:
I’m very happy for you!!! :iconloveloveplz: :tighthug:
Reply
:iconmertus:
Mertus Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2014
:blush: Well thank you so very much! 
Reply
:iconthegalleryofeve:
TheGalleryOfEve Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:iconflyingheartsplz::iconsweethugplz::iconflyingheartsplz:
Reply
:iconlapulta:
Lapulta Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
How... fascinating. This painted such a clear picture of People being People. I don't even know how to describe it. I'm just struck dumb with thought. Thank you very much for writing this; congrats on your DD!
Reply
:iconmertus:
Mertus Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014
Thank you! I'm glad that you enjoyed it so much! My favourite stories are about people being people, so I'm glad to find others who enjoy them as well.
Reply
:iconlasarustank:
LASARUSTANK Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014
Awesome! :)
Reply
:iconsnapperz:
Snapperz Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014   Writer
:dance: Whoot! Congrats on the DD, homey! I did a little jig for you when I saw. 
Reply
:iconmertus:
Mertus Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014
Haha thank you! I was gobsmacked when I saw it, especially since I never thought much of this piece at all XD
Reply
:iconsnapperz:
Snapperz Featured By Owner Edited Jun 20, 2014   Writer
It's always when you least expect it. :lol: Enjoy. 
Reply
:iconmertus:
Mertus Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2014
Oh I am enjoying it :D
I just need to keep my ego in check XD
Reply
:iconxtcgm:
xtcgm Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2014
Why?
Just revel!
Reply
:iconmertus:
Mertus Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2014
Well I suppose, if revelry isn't completely frowned upon ;p
Reply
:iconsorrowscoldfrost:
Sorrowscoldfrost Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014
I like the morbidness (is that even a real word?) of this. Very interesting perspective of a grave robber and his wife. :)
Reply
:iconmertus:
Mertus Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014
Thank you! Also I don't think morbidness is a word but that's okay :D
Reply
:iconbittersweet-ink:
bittersweet-ink Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
this is great! I got a lot from just that short story.
Reply
:iconmertus:
Mertus Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014
Well thank you! 
Reply
:icontommyboywood:
tommyboywood Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Well told. If you get the chance check out my pieces "The most unlovable man  in the world" parts 1 and 2.  Audio versions included
Reply
:icontheweelad:
TheWeeLad Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014
WELL... that chilled me right the hell up. It was heartfelt, it was full of real, what's the word, 'people-ness'... that's a word right?
and it was just a bit nihilistic... but not in an evil way, just a sad kinda "the life we lead is the one we know... maybe its all we deserve" kinda way.
I loved it... brrr, its so cold all of a sudden.
Reply
:iconmertus:
Mertus Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014
Well real people are often a little bit nihilistic sometimes. I'm tickled pink that you enjoyed it and I hope you warm up soon.
Reply
:iconjathis:
Jathis Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014   Writer
I like how the ending ensures that the reader can't really feel any sympathy for Maggie in the end because it shows that she's going against her husband's wishes, focusing on the money in the end.
Reply
:iconmertus:
Mertus Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014
That was the intention, since it's very easy to feel sympathy for a person who's loved one just died. I wanted to see if I could write a story where that sympathy wasn't at all warranted. In any case I'm very glad you enjoyed it  
Reply
:iconcereal-in-a-bowl:
cereal-in-a-bowl Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Reminds me so much of Poe's work. Excellent!!!
Reply
:iconmertus:
Mertus Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014
That is high praise indeed! Thank you
Reply
:iconcereal-in-a-bowl:
cereal-in-a-bowl Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
It is my utmost pleasure.
Reply
:iconayeaye12:
AyeAye12 Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014  Student Writer
I really like it, although I feel that dialogue at the end kinda rushes in some sense of regret and sympathy for Maggie which is unneccesary, or at least could be presented more effectively. 
Other than that though, this is really good :3
Reply
:iconmertus:
Mertus Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014
Well I'm glad you liked most of it! 
I wasn't trying to convey sympathy for Maggie. From any way you look at it, what she did was pretty crappy. I was more trying to convey the sense that while she did her best to act 'business as usual' she wasn't quite as indifferent as she wanted to be. There is probably a more effective way of doing this, you're right, so I'll try and make it better for next  time :)
Reply
:iconayeaye12:
AyeAye12 Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014  Student Writer
Ah, I understand :nod:
Keep on writing x3
Reply
:iconmertus:
Mertus Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014
I will! you too! 
Reply
:iconmoon-any:
Moon-any Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014
Very well done, a unique perspective. The husband's "last words"really make the story strong especially since the wife does not follow them; it reflects the indiffernence of grave robbers to death. However you did hint at human emotion as well. 

It defiantly shows a flash of your talent. 
Reply
:iconmertus:
Mertus Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014
Thanks, I'm glad it worked out well. It was difficult to get the mix of emotions right since she is indifferent but not quite as indifferent as she'd like. 
Reply
:iconlightsonluna:
LightsOnLuna Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh, wow! This is amazinglywell written and that last bit hits the reader.
Reply
:iconmertus:
Mertus Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014
Thank you! It came to me at the last minute and I thought it was perfect
Reply
:icondiitzy:
Diitzy Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Was this based off of Repo! The Genetic Opera?
Reply
:iconmertus:
Mertus Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014
Not in the slightest, Maggie is just a throwaway name
Reply
Add a Comment:
 
×

:iconmertus: More from Mertus


Featured in Collections

Literature by Bioshutt

Poetry and Literature by Surviveroflove

Favorite Literature by InfiniteWitch


More from DeviantArt



Details

Submitted on
June 5, 2014
Link
Thumb

Stats

Views
2,010
Favourites
101 (who?)
Comments
65
×