The chimneysweep’s daughter feared spontaneous combustion and carried with her everywhere she went a fire extinguisher so that she might put herself out should flames pour forth from her pores. The reserved woman’s son, who made a dentist, feared paroxysms and washed his mouth out with Novocain three times a day. The florist’s father feared dead flowers and filled vases with silk forget-me-nots. The lawyer’s well-dressed husband feared fainting and wore clothespins under his clothes so that he might always be pinched. The exterminator’s aunt feared poisoning and kept roaches in her purse, released one to test thresholds and corners, cups and quiches. The surgeon feared loneliness and stitched her twins together at the ear. The seismologist’s mother feared trembling and monitored her extremities with a level, its unwavering bubble the lover she could not touch.
Life Insurance Salesman
After the Apocalypse “They didn’t actually die,” he argued when beneficiaries contacted him to collect. He told angry children, “We’re treating all missing bodies as if they’re still living.” The supreme court judges, all of whom showed up to work as usual, agreed. Irritated with the plaintiffs’ claims that their loved ones had entered the afterlife, which made them, by definition, dead, they also ruled that families must pay for the removal of abandoned cars from streets, clothes from drains, and uneaten food from restaurants. The life insurance salesman knew post-apocalyptic marketing would be a real chore; on his new shingle he printed, “Death isn’t what it used to be.” Clients crammed into his foyer. He granted cut-rates to believers, no matter the object of their belief, though he was visibly reluctant to allow a woman who professed belief in herself the lower premium. Months went by with no claims. Then, on a Friday, he found a couple waiting for him. “We died over the weekend,” they said. “We’re here to file claims.” The insurance salesman listened to messages while the purportedly dead couple sipped Styrofoam cups of water, eyeing him.
Jordan Sanderson is originally from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where he earned a PhD from the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. His work has recently appeared in Mad Hatters' Review, DMQ Review, Caketrain, and If Poetry Online, and is forthcoming from Double Room. He currently lives in Auburn, Alabama, and teaches at Auburn University.