For anyone who knew Elsie, the story I’m about to tell won’t come as a surprise. Elsie was hands-on, her clothes often covered in mud, her behavior boisterous at times. In her family, she was the quiet one, for everyone else, she was rather peculiar with a sense of humor bordering the crude. With a heart too sensitive for the outside world, she kept her feelings hidden behind a facade of I-don’t-care, her emotions aggressive whenever she feared someone threatened to expose her inner world.
Her stories always rather gory, her friends were used to hearing fables of lost limbs, wives celebrating their husbands’ deaths and infected dog bites. They didn’t flinch at pet names such as Ebola or Plague and had learned to laugh off her regular slurs. So one day, when Elsie started to tell one of her stories in a voice bubbling with suppressed rage, no one questioned the name she used to describe a beloved family member and that, in return, said a lot about Elsie’s friends themselves.
“Didn’t I tell you,” Elsie asked half annoyed. “She’s finally dead. I can’t believe how long it took her to finally call it quits.”
Blinking her eyes, Amaya looked confused at her circle of friends: Francine and Lilo. They all shook their heads. “What was that, who died?”
“That doggone Nana pig,” Elsie returned matter-of-fact. “I mean seriously, too fat to walk and too lazy to do anything about it. Looking after her was such a drag.”
Amaya swallowed hard when the words hit her brain. “I didn’t know she was sick,” she muttered, trying her best not to offend her friend with her usual words of comfort.
“The doctor only told us two weeks ago, but we’ve known for a long time. I’d put something in her food to get it over with sooner, but my mother was against it. She was too close to her, too attached.” Elsie sighed. “I get it. But I’m happy it’s all over now.”
“Why did she die,” Francine cut in quietly, her face a mask of waspy control while her eyes told a whole different story.
“Cancer,” Elsie replied with a shrug. “Might as well have been the fat she’d put on over the past few months. Who knows.”
“Maybe she gained weight because of her illness,” Amaya tried her best to turn the conversation into a more compassionate direction, one of those habits that could drive Elsie up the walls.
“I don’t care why she was obese. She was a fat pig that had become a nuisance to our family. I’m happy she’s gone.”
“But you’ll sure miss her,” Lilo interrupted, ignoring the stiff look Francine and Amaya were giving her in dire hope to drop the subject.
“I don’t know. She never really did anything for me. No hard feelings, but I won’t miss cleaning her crap.”
“When is the funeral,” Amaya cleared her throat to cover her outrage. How come she’s still my friend, a question written all over her face.
“There’s no funeral. We’ll put her in a box and throw her in a hole by the bushes. Covered with dirt, maybe she’ll do something good that way feeding the plants.”
Exchanging looks, Amaya, Lilo and Francine held their collective breaths until Elsie spoke again in a voice that suggested she was done discussing the topic at hand. “By the way, we are going to give her stuff away, so if you know someone who needs a cage.”
“A cage?” Lilo inhaled sharply, her face unable to mask her surprise.
“Yeah, the big one my Nana used,” Elsie nodded with a crooked smile. “Spoiled them rotten, those guinea-pigs. I’m glad she didn’t live to see her favorite piggy suffer such a gruesome good-bye.”