The Better Story

Zoetrope All-Story Spring 2008"The neighborhood kids remember Missy. She bit when she was angry and pinched no matter what. They don't feel sorry for her ghost self. They remember the funeral they were forced to attend, how her mother threw herself on the coffin, wailing, how they thought she'd been kidding and so laughed out loud and got shushed. The way the neighborhood kids tell the story, the coffin was lowered into the ground and Missy Goodby's grieving mother leapt down and then had to be yanked from the hole like a weed. Everyone always believes the better story eventually. Really, Pamela Goodby just thumped the coffin at the graveside service. Spanked it: two spanks. She knew that pleading would never budge her daughter, not because she was dead but because she was stubborn. All her life, the more you pleaded with Missy, the more likely she was to do something to terrify you. Pamela Goodby spanked the coffin and walked away and listened for footsteps behind her. She walked all the way home, where she took off her shoes, black pumps with worn stones of gray along the toes. "Done with you," she told them.

From "Something Amazing," by Elizabeth McCracken (Zoetrope All-Story, Spring 2008) whose memoir, An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, will be published in September by Little, Brown and Company.