Marietta exhaled. 'Don't let's tell Melly Marvel! You know how morbid she can be.'
For Melly Marvel had recently taken to collecting deaths like other kids collected Barbies.
It started when she lay in Marietta's lap, feigning sleep, while Marietta and Avril sat on the front veranda sipping iced tea and talking about the recent death of a friend of a friend's friend.
'She just leaned her head back in the police car after the wreck, like you do, you know? When you're in the backseat and you're looking up at the stars? Just leaned it back like that and it killed her. Becuase they'd not known her neck was broke.'
Melly Marvel would think of this story often. Later, in college, while riding the dark Mississippi roads with friends, she'd be in the back seat, looking up at the stars thinking of her mother's friend of a friend's friend who'd died because she'd looked up at the stars, not knowing her neck was broken.
The South was like that, you see. There was always death. But not just death, weird and awful death. Like the guy who got the Spanish influenza and died of slit wrists and a slit throat. It was ruled a suicide, and Melly Marvel always wondered how he had time to slit so many things before bleeding to death.
Then there was Williamson's sister, who'd been taken away while the rest of the family was working in the fields. She'd just disappeared, never to be heard from again.
What Melly Marvel learned from this was that people would leave, often, and they wouldn't just walk out the door. No. Southerners were more creative. They loved them some spectacle.
Melly Marvel's absolute favorite was the story she'd heard of her mother's cousin who fell in the lake. All that was left of him was his boots, standing straight stuck up in the mud as though he had been raptured from them.