Saturday morning breakfast was always a family affair. Dad read the Victoria Times Colonist. Mom cooked breakfast, while Abby and Ella fought over the sections of newspaper discarded by Dad. Three year old Ella wanted to color on the big sheets of newsprint. Abby always tried to read the Obituaries before Ella could turn them into the newest edition of refrigerator art.
Mom, will I die of cancer?
No, Abby your six years old.
But Gladys died of cancer.
Does the paper say how old Gladys was when she died?
You proved my point.
Ok, mom. Will I die of heart disease?
No. Same reason. Old people die of heart disease.
Bill was only 46.
Yes, but Bill was not a healthy six year old girl. Sometimes men die younger than women. I’m not sure why exactly it just seems to work out that way.
Hmmm, will I die from a car accident? This girl Heather was eighteen, that’s way younger.
No, honey you will not die from a car accident. Your daddy and I are excellent drivers.
Ok. So how will I die?
No-one knows how they’ll die, it just happens.
Gladys knew. The paper says she was sick a long time before she passed from this world.
Yes. Sometimes the person knows. Sometimes it takes a very long time, like when a person has a terminal disease, or they are very old.
I’d like to know.
Cause I have stuff to do, mom. You know before I pass from this world.
The mother chuckles. Pass from this world. Like one day you ask for a hall pass for the bathroom at school and poof you’re dead.
You have stuff to do? Like what?
I want to run in the fields like that lady in the sound of music. Happy and singing and dancing and married maybe. Or maybe not. Kids too, I think I like kids, but they have to be like me and not like Ella.
Are you sure? Kids ask loads of difficult questions like, “why is the sky blue?” and “how will I die?”
Yes. But I really want to know when I’ll die, so I can work out my bucket list.
Where did you hear about bucket lists?
On a commercial for a movie. Some old guys are sitting around a table talking about the things they didn’t do but always wanted to. You know a bucket list.
You watch too much television.
Dad says that too.
Tiring of the conversation mom says;Let’s consult the wee genie.
OK, The wee genie never lies.
The mother walks into the living room and reaches for the OUIJA box on the top shelf of the coat closet. Opening the box and placing the lettered board on the coffee table she sits on the floor across from Abby and places her finger tips on the plastic heart shaped planchette.
Ok, ask your question.
Abby places her fingertips on the opposite side of the pointer and says very clearly and softly,
wee genie, how will I die?
The pointer shoots off the board dragging their fingers and arms with it.
Then the pointer scoots in the opposite direction toward Abby.
Focus only on your question-nothing else, mom said.
Abby squints and thinks harder, repeating the question in her mind.
Wee genie, how will I die?
The pointer slows down lazily circling the center of the board as though thinking too and hovers over the letter L.
L? Lung cancer! Oh god I’m going to die of lung cancer.
Wait. We have another letter.
Lo? Lo, lo what starts with lo… Lobotomy! Oh no!Someone’s going to cut open my brain!That’s an awful way to die!
Lov? Huh? What starts with Lov?
No idea. Maybe we should wait for all the letters before we start jumping to conclusions.
The pointer begins circling the center of the board again, thinking, and settles on
L O V E, Love. I’m going to die of love? I don’t get it.
Neither do I. But the wee genie never lies.