Encyclopedia of the Deaths in the Smith Family
Alabama: One of the fifty states in the United States of America. Where Sarah and her parents and her grandparents and their grandparents have lived.
Brothers: A man or boy in relation to other sons and daughters of his parents. Sarah herself never had one, but her father had many.
Coffin: A long, narrow box, typically of wood, in which a corpse is buried or cremated. The first time Sarah saw one in person was after Uncle Harry died her senior year. It looked exactly how it did in the movies.
Eulogy: A speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly, typically someone who has just died. Sarah’s dad was the one who gave it at Uncle Harry’s funeral. It short, sweet, and full of bullshit.
Fiction: Invention or fabrication as opposed to fact. What bothered Sarah the most was how everyone was saying how good of a person Harry was. When he was alive, everyone hated him but now they stood over his body, they refused to speak about how vile he was. Sarah had a suspicion why.
Humid: Marked by a relatively high level of water vapor in the atmosphere. It was bad enough having to clean out Harry’s stuff but in the middle of summer where the air was more water than gas was enough to make Sarah hate Harry even more as she packed his shit in boxes meant to go to Goodwill.
Instruments: An object or device for producing musical sounds. When Sarah finished up, she walked to the grand piano in the main room. She opened it up and found the pentagram was still there. She remembered watching Harry draw it a couple of years ago from across the room. Sarah didn’t know what exactly he was doing at the time until she looked at it hours after he had left the room.
Jam: A sweet spread or preserve made from fruit and sugar boiled to a thick consistency. She reached out and touched it. She hoped it was ink but it was too sticky.
Kindness: The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Or what Sarah thought wiping away the mark would be.
Lizard: A reptile that typically has a long body and tail, four legs, movable eyelids, and a rough, scaly, or spiny skin. Several of them appeared outside of Sarah’s bedroom window. It was the first sign that Sarah messed up.
Mom: One's maternal parent. Sarah’s mother didn’t know any other language other than English. Or so Sarah thought until she heard her whisper to herself in what Sarah thought was Latin. When Sarah asked later, her mother denied whispering at all.
Nothing: Not anything; no single thing. Sarah realized there wasn’t anything that was safe.
Owl: A nocturnal bird of prey with large forward-facing eyes surrounded by facial disks, a hooked beak, and typically a loud call. When Sarah saw them around the house during the middle of the day, she knew she was running out of time.
Pomegranates: An orange-sized fruit with a tough reddish outer skin and sweet red gelatinous flesh containing many seeds. They were Sarah’s favorite fruit. The last seed she ate, instead of juice popping through, Sarah swore it was blood.
Queasy: Nauseated; feeling sick. Every morning, around 3, Sarah woke up holding her stomach, hoping to make it to the toilet. She started putting a trash can by her bed and had vivid memories of using it. When she woke up, it was always empty.
Rock: The solid mineral material forming part of the surface of the earth and other similar planets, exposed on the surface or underlying the soil or oceans. They began to show up around Sarah’s bed in carefully set patterns. Sarah didn’t bother moving them around. She knew they would move back to their proper place anyway.
Salt: A white crystalline substance that gives seawater its characteristic taste and is used for seasoning or preserving food. The superstitions that Sarah’s grandmother held dear, Sarah started to listen to. She put some in a little bag, hoping it would buy her a couple of days.
Toast: Sliced bread browned on both sides by exposure to radiant heat. Sarah smelt a burnt variation of it in every room, leading up to the kitchen where she saw her mother on the ground. Maybe she should have given her the salt bag. She found her dad the same way a couple of hours later.
University: An educational institution designed for instruction, examination, or both, of students. in many branches of advanced learning, conferring degrees in various faculties, and often embodying colleges and similar institutions. A place Sarah had looked forward to going to. She made her peace that she will never.
Velcro: A fastener for clothes or other items, consisting of two strips of thin plastic sheet, one covered with tiny loops and the other with tiny flexible hooks, which adhere when pressed together and can be separated when pulled apart deliberately. The final night, Sarah could have sworn she heard it right next to her ear but her eyes refused to open them to check.
Wood: The hard fibrous material that forms the main substance of the trunk or branches of a tree or shrub. This coffin was a lot simpler than Uncle Harry’s.
Young: Having lived or existed for only a short time. Like Sarah.
Zealous: Having or showing zeal. What Sarah freed, moved from one member of the Smith family to the next, creating a lot of wooden boxes along the way.