Eudora Bixby is dead, but there is a sneeze rudely pacing the inside of her nose. Perhaps it is doing the minuet. Or a waltz. Or a particularly jaunty tango. Eudora reminds herself she is dead and twists her nose into a lumpy button. The river beneath her is ripe with bacteria, but corpses aren't picky, she assumes.
To hell with assumptions. Eudora rolls onto her stomach with the grace of a drunken emu and flaps her little arms and legs. She would like to call this strange little dance of hers swimming.
Someone is on the pier, watching her. A boy. His lips are moving but speak only the chaotic sounds of the river water sloshing across her palms.
"Don't talk to me, can't you see I'm dead?" Eudora says, peeling a strand of hair off her lips. Bitter. The taste of the river.
The boy on the pier laughs. A crooked grin. His eyes are the same color as the murky river, something dark.
"I beg to disagree," he says, "Bodies don't talk. That's the whole point of 'em."
Eudora swallows air like a southern housewife does whiskey and disappears beneath the surface of the river. Quiet.
"Okay, okay," the boy says to the patch of grayish water where Eudora had been, "I got it. You're dead."
Gasp. Cough. Spit. Eudora is back, and it takes her twenty-seven minutes to reach the shore. She sticks out her hand to the boy because curtsies are dumb and stupid.
"Eudora," she says, eyes sharp.
"It's my name." Spitting out the words through clenched teeth, Eudora is too busy picking slime or seaweed out of her hair to care for conversation.
"That's an ugly name," the boy says anyway.
"Well," scoffs Eudora.
"You look more like a Stella," the boy says, "I had a pet rat named Stella. She loved the water."
"I hate the water."
"Then why were you going for a swim in the Hudson?"
"I hate my sister more."
"You always this talkative?”
"Sorry," Eudora mutters, arranging her hair into three raven plaits, watching him pick the kelp off his shoe.
"Don't worry about it," the boy kicks a rock into the water. It skips, one, two, three, drowns. "So I take it you're not going back to your sister tonight?'
"Oh, she probably hasn’t noticed I'm dead yet," Eudora flicks a braid over her shoulder. The air is slimy and stained with salt. Eudora realizes she is quite famished, and would perhaps kill for a ginger beer, a salty sour pickle, and an obscene amount of bacon. Corpses aren’t inclined to sour pickles and cured meats and carbonated beverages, she assumes. But to hell with assumptions.
Gabriela Vascimini was born in Manhattan, a city that inspires much of her writing. Her work has previously appeared in The Kenyon Review Young Writers Anthology: Ascension. When she isn’t writing, she can be found in the theater, in the art studio, or on twitter anonymously ghostwriting for multiple comedy accounts. She currently resides in Connecticut. @GabrielaVasci