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  • Emmy Bitonti

Life Before Death

I’m always being watched. At least, now I am. I used to be hidden; no one would bat an eye at me. I liked it. But now I’m surrounded by all these eyes staring at me. They can’t move of course- they’re all fake. Considering it’s the environment I’m in everyday, and what I do for a living, these fake stiff creatures glaring from their displays don’t bother me anymore.

The front door creaks open, followed by the clinging of keys and heavy footsteps. I wheel my chair through the mess to the door frame, standing up as I turn the corner to look into the main lobby. He sees me.

“I was wondering why the door was unlocked!” My uncle chuckled as he looks at me with his sparkly, cheerful eyes. He never fails to make me smile.

“Good morning Uncle Zio!” I grinned, suddenly more awake than I was before.

“Mornin’ sweetpea. What’re you doing here so early? The sun ain’t even done risin’.”

His footsteps thump on the hardwood floor as he makes his way to his spot on the couch. You can tell it’s his by the cushion being perfectly molded to his body frame.

“I woke up early and couldn’t fall back asleep, so I figured I would make use of the key you gave me.”

“And yet you saw no point when I gave it to you, though you live right upstairs,” he mumbles teasingly as a cigarette dangles from the corner of his mouth. His lighter flicks until it catches fire, and he brings it up to the other side of the tobacco roll, breathing in. I open a window for him, as always.

“You’re here from the buttcrack of dawn to past the moon reaching its peak in the night sky. You should be the one who lives up there, not me.”

“Oh, so now you’re saying you’re not grateful for the shelter I grant you?” He sarcastically announces, raising his eyebrow with emphasis.

“Now when did I say that?” I laugh, walking back to my desk to grab my coffee. I raise my voice so he can still hear me as I round the corner. “I’ve been working on that order of the ram by the way. I figured since it’s due soon and I had nothing better to do. It’s quite pretty, if I do say so myself.”

“Oh that’s good! I meant to tell you that that girl wanted to pick it up early. I’ll tell her ‘Lauren worked hard on it to get it done for you,’” I could hear the smirk in his voice; he knows that will get me a tip. I hate tips.

“And I’ll make sure I’m not here when she comes to get it,” I mumble to myself, and continue to sip on my coffee while looking down at the pretty light brown ram, waiting for its display board.

I hear my uncle groan, and the couch creaking and crinkling. His thumping footsteps grow louder, and I turn to see him round the corner and stop in the doorway.

“Wow- you finished it? You didn’t say that,” his shock was visible in his expression, almost overdramatically.

“I have a couple more details on the eyes and whatnot, but I wanted to do that after you mounted it. It’s kind of an optional thing; I want to see how it looks on the board first.”

“...Thennn I’ll be right on it. And to think I’d be able to take my time with my cigarette,” he grumbles, turning 180 degrees and marching his way to his office area, where he will continue to make loud, obnoxious noise to create the backboard.

Sorry! But now I can take my time and enjoy my coffee.

I grin to myself, and get comfy in my cushioned wheely chair. My sketchbook is out on my other desk, across from the table working area holding the ram taxidermy. I pull up in front of it, and turn the pages to my most recent sketch- just in the beginning of its journey. I set down my mug, put on The Beatles in my headphones, and picked up my pencil to continue this depiction of the ram’s life before its death- before ending up on the wooden table just behind me.


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