The Neighborhood Cadaver

When she was twelve, I was fifteen.

She wore a bunny suit. No one talked about it.

Before she was a bunny, though, she was the neighborhood cadaver.

Being of mixed race, and having developmental problems, not very many people knew what to do with Indigo when she was presented to them. Schooling was not something her father found necessary. In the evenings, he would leave for work, and leave her lying in whatever room in the house she’d fallen asleep in, and he wouldn’t return for days at a time. If Indigo wasn’t an independent child, she had no choice but to be.

In the afternoons, after all the other kids returned home from school and dropped their bags off in the mudrooms of their homes, they’d flood the streets and start playing random games they’d created out of boredom and a lack of resources. Indigo would emerge from her sleepy little two-bedroom home on the corner and wander down the road, attempting to find a group of children that would allow her to join them.

She’d always end up at the feet of Finn, the neighborhood ginger, who would say something along the lines of, “You could play the dead girl,” and Indigo, who was just happy to be acknowledged, would nod and wait for Finn to point her to whatever spot it was that she was supposed to go play dead.

She’d spread herself out over whatever portion of the pavement or square of the sidewalk she was instructed to, and the little sisters of the boys out in the street would creep their way up to her corpse and trace her in different colored chalk, attempting to create their own juvenile form of a crime scene. While they did so, they’d ask her questions about her hair, and why she never went to school, and where her daddy was, and why her mommy didn’t exist anymore.

Indigo would just lie there, and after much pestering, would whisper, “Dead girls don’t talk.”

Around this same time, I was sixteen, and the oldest one on the street. My job was to sit on the front porch with R.C. and Drexel, two other older kids, and smoke and play cards and mediate any dispute that arose from their morbid little games. Cops and Murderers, or Who Killed The Gimp, or whatever it was that served as Indigo’s cause of death, and in between to scrawny boys running up to me asking who was out and who was in, I would watch Indigo lie there in the street, being the prettiest dead girl I’d ever seen.

They’d play until their mothers would come to the front doors of their houses and shout for their children to come in for supper. Then, group by group, they’d detach themselves from their morbid little game and go on home covered in dirt and scratches, sweat and youth, until there was only Indigo, and there was only me.

When everyone ran home and left Indigo underneath the heat of a light post, I’d come on over and shake her awake, and she’d thank me before running up the front path of her house and waving at me from the other side of the front door.

When I returned home from the war, she was nineteen and she thought she was dying, and I was twenty-two, and thought I already had.


3 thoughts on “The Neighborhood Cadaver”

  1. I loved it, That was excellent!!! Mahlani you are very talented. I wish you all the success this world has to offer you. When you release your 1st book don’t forget your #1 fan. Your big cousin Kyisha. I love you, Keep up the amazing work!!

  2. That Was Beautiful Mahlani Keep Up The Good Work I Know That You Are Going To Be Very Succesful ,You Are So Intelligent Am I So Proud To Have A Very Talent Grand Daughter As You LOVE YOU Grand mom Sheila.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *