Laid to Rest


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hand holding fertile soil for plant to growing in nature concept.

Jade Najarro, Writer


“What are you going to do with your body after you die?”


My eyebrows furrowed in confusion at Elaine’s question, causing me to close the book I was reading. After placing it on the coffee table next to the couch, I glanced down at my lap. My eyes quickly met hers, taking note of the mischievous glint in them. Before she broke the comfortable silence between us, Elaine had been resting her head on my lap for about half an hour.


“…Huh?” I questioned.


“You know! When you die, what’s going to happen to your body? Are you going to have it cremated? Maybe have it embalmed?” Her eyes lit up as she suddenly clapped her hands together. “Oh! What about one of those Viking funerals where they put your body in a boat and light it on fire!”


I chuckled slightly at her enthusiasm, my hand reaching down to thread through her hair.


“What’s up with the morbid questions all of a sudden?”


“I’m not sure.” Her hands started to fiddle with each other. “I’ve been lost in my thoughts for a while. At first, I thought about random stuff, but then my brain thought about death and stuff out of nowhere. Now I can’t stop thinking about it!”


“Well, that’s weird,” I replied affectionately, lightly flicking her forehead. “You’re weird. A little weirdo.”


“Well, you probably should have thought about that before you started dating me then.” She said as she stuck her tongue out at me.


“I guess so.” I chuckled as I stared off at the wall. “Anyways, to answer your question, I guess I’m just going to have my body cremated? It’s a lot less expensive than a proper burial. Plus, my family gets to keep my ashes and stuff.”


“What, you don’t want them to spread your ashes anywhere? Like at the beach or something?” Elaine asked.


“Not really, no. I don’t like the thought of my ashes being all over the place for other people to step on. If they’re in an urn, then it’s like I’m still kind of there with my family! If that makes sense.” I scratch the back of my neck sheepishly. I’d never been the best with words.


“Hmmm…” Elaine’s eyebrows scrunched together in thought. “I guess that makes sense. Kind of a boring option, but still nice.”


“Boring?” A frown made its way onto my lips. “What, you have a more exciting post-death plan or something?”


“I do, thank you very much.” Elaine expressed matter of factly. “I’m gonna turn my body into soil.”


Her answer surprised me, so much so that I hurt my neck from suddenly whipping my head back down to stare at her. My bulging eyes darted across Elaine’s face, looking for any signs that she was joking. But to my shock, she looked deadly serious.


“…That’s a thing you can do???” I gaped.


“Surprisingly, yeah! I read an article about it and everything.” Her hands started to drum against her legs excitedly. “They like put your body in this big rotating cylinder with a bunch of plants and stuff until it breaks down into soil! It’s pretty interesting.”


“And out of all the options out there, you want to do that with your body after you die?”


“Uh, yeah! It’s less expensive, and it’s better for the environment. Cremation releases a lot of carbon emissions, you know.” A playful smirk makes its way onto her face. “Don’t you care about the environment, Maya?”


“I mean, yeah, I do. It’s just…” I paused. “Is your family gonna be happy with you doing that?”


Elaine’s smile quickly fell from her face, her playful attitude dying out like a fire. She broke eye contact with me, turning her head away toward the wall.


“…No.” She says quietly.


“And you still want to do it anyway? Despite what they think?”


Elaine lets out a sad chuckle.


“If I cared about what my parents thought, I wouldn’t be dating you right now…” From what I could see, her eyes looked sad.


A frown made its way onto my face. I’d always hated seeing Elaine upset. Reaching over, I gently placed my hand on top of hers, brushing the back of her hand with my thumb.


“I’m sorry I brought up your family. I know they’re a touchy subject for you…” I apologized softly.


“No, no, it’s fine. It’s not your fault. It’s just… It’s just that they’re all jerks…” Elaine said, her eyes scrunching closed. “Even though we’ve been dating for years, they still think you’re no good for me just because you’re a…”


She didn’t need to finish her sentence for me to understand. Elaine’s family had always been closed-minded about the two of us being together, which frustrated the both of us to no end. I laced my fingers with hers, giving her hand an encouraging squeeze.


“…Well, hey, they’re not here with us right now, are they? It’s just you and me.” I smiled as I leaned down to peck her cheek.


“…Yeah. It is, isn’t it?” A small smile made its way onto Elaine’s face.


“Mhm. Just you and me, and not your dumb family. You don’t have to worry about them judging us here.”


“That sounds perfect… I love you, Maya.” Elaine says softly, leaning up to kiss me. Her lips are soft against mine.


“I love you too, Elaine.”