>When to say When

>I did it because I was bored of the Murder Box. I know every scrap of paper in it. I know how many counseling sessions Victims Services paid for; I know exactly how much the mortuary wrote off the bill as “professional courtesy;” I know the three causes of death stated on the certificate, and I know the time of death, to the minute (which actually has nothing to do with the time she died, but the time when a living witness confirmed it, which was three days later. Never mind that for three days, she was as metabolic as a spinach salad.)

And because I’m an animal and animals will sniff around places of interest until they exhaust themselves or get driven off, I ordered the coroner’s autopsy report from my home state.

And because I’m impulsive, impatient, and twitchy, I opened it right away.

And because I’m a selfish ass who’s afraid of having a single private moment, I read the first page out loud to my fiance.

And because I did that, I undid the perfect, shiny veneer of polyurethane that my self-protective brain sprayed over the top of everything after the trial two years ago. I chiseled it off in short curls that fell off the sides of that horrible moment that I saw her, and I scraped and sanded until the rawness of those following days was restored to its original beauty.

Two years ago, I chose not to look at the photographs they presented as evidence in the trial – it was the one thing I didn’t want to know – I gave myself that in a gesture of loving compassion. And then I undid it by reading the very thorough and unsugared prose of the coroners report of the scene as he found it. Of the body as he found it.

I put the 12-page report back in my purse without going further. I was shaking. I snapped at my fiance when he made a sound – a sound like he’d just discovered me poking holes in myself with a rusty pair of scissors. And I snapped at him and told him not to say a word and not to tell me I couldn’t and shouldn’t do this, because I had to do it. I will not only read, but illustrate, tattoo on myself, and eat each page of that report – crumple, chew, chew, and swallow every single page regardless of the risk of bowel obstruction.

Because I am an animal. A dumb, sniffing animal, hoping to lift my nose at last and turn to the pack and say, This – This is what it is.

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