This Is How I’ll Do It

Lindsay Gray


There was a small paper box that was not quite cardboard in her lap. She leaned her forehead against the window, imagining pressing all of her weight into that one tiny spot, and pointed her eyes toward a tree far away that seemed to remain fixed while the white lines of the freeway ticked by beneath her. Inside of the box there was a plastic bag and inside of this there was a small pile of dust, which were his remains. Cremains, she corrected herself. This was the portmanteau they were called by, but that word always seemed better to describe something delicious, possibly European, soft pastel. Evocative more of peaked egg whites than a chalky and unsentimental vision of afterlife. She thought about answering the phone a few weeks or months ago. There was a woman on the line whose voice she knew she had heard once or twice but still felt unfamiliar. She hung up. She put her phone lightly down next to her mouse and continued to stare at her monitor, generating purchase orders, printing the same blank form twice and then a third time until someone lightly touched her shoulder and asked if everything was alright.

“I just found out my dad died.”

She had said it without inflection and blinked, stood up, grabbed her coat and walked out the two sets of doors past reception.

She thought about her choice of words. It was the “I just found out” that seemed out of place but it was right. Without it someone might have understood this to be a deeply emotionally affecting piece of news, might have inferred closeness, but “I just found out” somehow signaled estrangement. She hadn’t made this choice deliberately but she still felt like it was appropriate now, holding a cinder cone of him in a box on the bus back home.

She thought about what to do with him. The compost bin was the most straightforward option but this seemed boring. She flicked the lights on and set the box down on the cheap laminate of the countertop in the kitchen, which was really also her bedroom, which was really also her living room. She thought about keeping him on a shelf, inside of a purpose built container, but this made her uneasy. She also thought about putting him in the backyard, in the earth under a tree, but this felt hackneyed and insincere. This didn’t feel like something she would do.

She thought about eating him.

“This is how I’ll do it,” she thought.

First, she took a silicone spatula from a drawer and portioned a small amount of the dust into a plastic cup. She would try mixing it up like chocolate milk and drinking it. But she found it to be weirdly insoluble, clinging to the end of the spatula in a powdery lump. She abandoned this idea in the sink but then retrieved the spatula, spread the nothing-colored clay out over a cracker and brought it to her mouth before she threw it in the garbage. Then,

“This is how I’ll do it,” she thought.

She pulled a bag of flour from a shelf and into it she spooned a quarter cup. She screwed the top off a salt shaker, poured a couple grams in. Some into a bag of ground coffee. Popped the top off a plastic pepper grinder and filled it to the brim, replaced the lid.

This is how she did it: she consumed him slowly, over time.



Lindsay Gray is a neuroscientist and wandering cellist with a penchant for exploring the darker corners of the human psyche through miniature fiction.