Our story of Edgar Sink begins on the day he died. It was an unusually cold day in June, a day the townspeople agreed had felt just a little strange. If it had been any other day then maybe Edgar Sink would have stayed dead.
Edgar stumbled into the crypt, slamming the door behind him. “I saw Anne today, Brad! She was visiting her father. She sat with him for an hour. Just sitting. Talking, telling him how she was. She had on that black dress, the one with the veil and the lace. And she dropped her glove!”
Brad eyed him in silent judgment.
“Now, I may have stolen it but she took it off, that’s roughly the same thing.” Edgar held the tiny glove to the fishbowl. “You see, Brad? How dainty her fingers must be, how slender a wrist! How I’d like nothing more than to sink my teeth into…no! No! No!”
He tossed the glove on the table beside the fishbowl, scaring Brad into his small castle. Edgar snatched up the glove almost immediately, slipping his own fingers in as far as they would go.
“I could return it to her, I suppose.” Edgar cleared his throat and puffed out his chest. “Good evening, miss. I believe you left this the other day after your visit.” He scoffed. “Hello, my name is Edgar. I was wandering about when this caught my eye,” he presented the glove to his reflection. “I think you have its match. How do I know? Well, because I’ve seen you wear it. When did I see you? Thursday, I suppose, around 4 in the afternoon, at your father’s plot. It’s a nice spot, isn’t it? The side of a hill is a sought after resting place, let me tell you, some would kill for it. Not me, though. Following you? Of course not, I was walking by…now stalking is a bit strong, miss!” Edgar snapped, forcing the glove into his pocket. “You can have this back when you learn some manners!”
Edgar ran his hands over his face in frustration, accidentally peeling off the skin at his cheekbones. He looked down at his hands.
“Today is the day, Brad.”
The fish eyed him wearily, trying to let Edgar know with his baleful stare just how little the world outside his bowl mattered. The last thing he needed was someone else sharing the already too small crypt. Someone else to forget to feed him. Someone else to leave the window open, chilling his water.
“See?” Edgar lowered his face to the glass. “I fixed my face, you can barely see the stitching! I think I’ve got the knack for sewing after the pitchfork incident. T-i-i-i-ny stitches!” Edgar sang out. “Tiny stitches on my face, making my cheeks stay in place. Today’s the day I meet my love, when I return her t-i-i-i-ny glove.”
Brad had seen some strange things from Edgar. But this one certainly took the flake. Edgar was usually a morose fellow, it wasn’t his fault really, the cards he’d been dealt had not been kind. He typically lurched through the cemetery, moaning and groaning over no one knows what, so this singing Edgar had Brad’s fins on edge.
“I’ve got it all figured out, you see? I was up all night thinking and sewing and thinking and sewing and I realized I haven’t a chance with Anne! She’s lovely and intelligent…I think, and she has nice teeth. And look at me!” He gestured to his dirty trousers, dirtier suit jacket, moldy skin and droopy left eye. “I’m dead!”
Edgar reached into the cupboard, pulling out a double-bladed battle axe he had stolen from a rather impractical family mausoleum. He stood proudly, swinging the axe onto his shoulder, scaring a few moths out of his coat.
“I’ll have to kill her.”
“Maggots, maggots, maggots, maggots!” Edgar stormed in, kicking the wall. His knee popped out of joint, sending him crashing to the floor. It was then that Brad noticed the axe embedded in Edgar’s back. With another burst of profanity and some maneuvering of his knee cap, he clicked his leg back into place.
Edgar removed his right arm, using it as an extension to reach the handle in the middle of his back. He gave a weak tug, wincing, and then set his jaw and yanked the blade out. Edgar glared menacingly at the axe before noticing a large spider swinging lithely from the blade. “Where did you-?” Turning to look in the mirror, Edgar watched a group of little spiders make their way from his wound, down his leg and onto the floor.
Both man and fish wore identical looks of horror as the spiderlings skittered away into the darker nooks of the crypt.
“I’m infested with spiders,” Edgar deadpanned.
He threw the axe to the ground, taking care to stomp on the largest spider, letting out an “Aha!” of victory over the defeated creature.
Edgar turned on the fish. “I’ll tell you what happened, Brad, but you mustn’t ever tell anyone.” Brad was sure that wouldn’t be a problem.
“Killing her myself doesn’t seem like a healthy way to start a relationship. I had used the axe to make a pendulum from a tree, so when she stood to leave, I let it go. I didn’t, however, expect her to lean down again. Nor was I aware of how much momen…momentu…swingy stuff a heavy axe has. For future reference, my fishy friend, it has enough continue around its orbit and implant itself in the back of a man who was just waiting, with open arms, to welcome his future wife into the afterlife.”
Edgar grimaced, glancing again at the wound in his back. “Spiders…how dangerous do you suppose that is?”
Brad didn’t think it was life-threatening.
The first time he saw her, the day her father was buried, she wore a bright red dress. Not at all appropriate, he’d heard the other mourners whisper behind her back. Her father would be appalled, they’d agreed. But soon, after they’d left, Anne lowered herself next to the headstone, tracing the letters of her father’s name.
“I wore your favorite color, father,” Edgar had heard her say. “It wasn’t well received at all, which will please you. The sermon was frightfully dull, he completely ignored the script you’d written for him.”
Anne came back every day. The dresses changed but the doe-eyed, tearful stare of one who was completely lost remained the same. Edgar found himself at her father’s plot every day, waiting for the perfect moment to tell her that, though it may not seem like it right now, one day everything would be perfect.
Edgar’s second attempt on Anne’s life went as well as the first.
“A poisoning,” he had decided, “is really the easiest thing to do.”
As it had turned out, Edgar’s droopy left eye left him with almost no depth perception. This in turn left him with no vile of poison and instead a large amount of ammonia running down his front. He then decided to slit her throat and was nearly upon her before he remembered that he hated the sight of blood. Also, his stitching was not nearly that good.
The next day found Edgar wedged in the upper branches of a tree. He scratched absently at his hair and wrung the rope he was currently holding in his hands. The small hairs on the back of Edgar’s neck stood, he felt eyes on him. He glanced down at Anne who was still in a vehement one-sided argument with her father. With a start, he noticed a crow watching him suspiciously.
The crow jumped closer, nails making a light click-click on the branch.
“Get out of here!” Edgar hissed.
The crow continued, head cocked, beady eye focused on a maggot currently living in Edgar’s hair. It was on Edgar’s knee now, leaning as far forward as its skinny legs and heavy body would allow. Edgar dropped the rope, now harmless to Anne, in order to swat at the bird. The crows wings fluttered and with his beak directly in front of Edgar’s face released a loud “SQUAK!” Edgar toppled from the tree branch.
As Edgar tugged feebly at the rope, now tightening around his throat, the crow added insult to injury by landing heavily on Edgar’s head, plucking the maggot from his hair and swallowing it with a satisfied “slurp!”
Edgar pendulumed slowly back and forth, thinking over his remaining options. He figured poetry would be his best bet, embarrassing, yes, but certainly not harmful to his wellbeing. After all, he was quite literally at the end of his rope.
In a fit of desperation that mortal men will recognize, Edgar steeled himself for an act he would never speak of again, he took out a pen and a sheet of paper and wrote Anne a poem. Three, in fact.
It would have gone splendidly except Edgar had been dead quite a while. See, when one spends so much time focusing on arming oneself against decomposition, grave robbers and the desire to eat human flesh, they lose touch with certain aspects of their previous life.
Not to mention that Edgar had about as much experience with women as Brad did. The fact was he’d just never gotten around to it. Having been killed at the tender age of eighteen, he’d never been part of the elusive club of courting. And having not been what one would call a go-getter in life, Edgar decided he would make the most of his death and this would start with wooing the perfect woman.
He’d read romantic books, of course. It surprised him how many mourners left things like books at headstones. As if their dearly departed would have need for such a thing. Although, Edgar decided, they were good enough for him. He was departed, as it were, and he was looking for someone dear.
Roses are red, and sometimes they’re yellow,
How would you like to date a great fellow?
His eyes are quite dreamy, sunk into his head,
You won’t even notice the fact that he’s dead.
He’ll love you forever, your hands will his hold,
Until you’re both warm, and not from the mold.
“Maggots!” Edgar exclaimed.
My lovely Anne,
Your hair is so shiny,
I wish you were miney.
I think you’re real cute,
Especially your hiney.
For you I’d make room,
In my one-person tomb,
And you can bring all of your things.
For you I would cook,
Something out of a book,
And it doesn’t have to be brains.
For you I would stumble,
Groaning and grumble,
And I would eat all of your friends.
No, that’s terrible, I couldn’t,
I wouldn’t, no, shouldn’t,
However would I make amends?
For you I would wear my heart on my sleeve,
In doing so hope that you’d never leave,
And I could, too, I’m not using it for much.
So what do you say,
Please say that we may,
And we can split someone for lunch.
Morning found Edgar, bleary-eyed and ink-smeared, hiding behind the headstone of Anne’s father as she sat only feet away. In one hand Edgar held the shoddy remnants of last night’s attempt at poetry.
As he crinkled the letters, deciding on how to introduce himself to Anne, there was a soft brushing at the back of his hand. Edgar looked down and recognized one of the spiderlings that had belonged to what was now a smudge on the bottom of his shoe. It was no longer a spiderling and was in fact, a very large, very poisonous looking spiderbeast. Winking with four of its eight eyes, the spider sunk his fangs deep into the skin of Edgar’s thumb.
Anne watched with detached amusement as a man leapt from behind her father’s headstone and ran screaming into the trees. Anne picked up the three pieces of paper he had dropped and promptly read them.
Edgar sat, hours later, watching Brad gulp down every spider he could find.
“I’m running out of ideas, Brad. Should I just talk to her? It’s simple, I realize, but what do I say?” Edgar stood and gestured widely with his hand, the stitches pulled.
“Hello, Anne. My name is Edgar. Would you care to go for a walk? Would you like to sit and chat with me?” He put on a goofy grin. “Make sure to stay upwind, I smell like death!” He rolled his right eye, then knocked himself on the head so his left eye caught up.
“I’m sorry about your father.”
“Nice weather today.”
What if it were raining?
“I love you.”
It was hopeless, Edgar decided. He would be doomed to spend his eternity alone in his crypt. At least he had Brad, of course fish only last a year at most. And then what? A dog? Not likely, dogs liked bones. Edgar couldn’t abide cats. The feral ones that roamed the cemetery seemed snotty and detested Edgar for no reason. He’d spent an entire day, being unsure of what cats ate, holding out flowers trying to tempt the cats into coming just a bit closer…
“Flowers,” Edgar tested the word as if he’d never tried it before. “Flowers…”
He picked up Brad’s tank, kissed it and set it back down, causing water to slosh onto the floor. “I’ll get her flowers! Brad, you‘re a genius!”
Brad agreed, but said nothing.
“I think there’s too much yellow,” Edgar stood looking over his bouquet. He removed a few dandelions from the mix, thought better of it and put them back in different spots.
It was a sad bouquet, not meeting the standards of the one Edgar had pictured in his mind. The cemetery only offered dandelions, grass, a few lilacs and whatever he could scavenge from other headstones. What the group lacked in beauty, however, it made up for in size. Edgar had to hold the bouquet in both arms.
After a rather awkward walk, Edgar had stationed himself behind the tree closest to Anne’s father’s headstone. It was at this moment Edgar’s nose began to tingle.
“It looks like rain today, father.”
Edgar rubbed his nose against the trunk of the tree in hopes of satisfying the itch. It was no use however because at the same time that Anne heaved a great, lonely sigh, Edgar sneezed.
And his left eye popped out and into the bouquet.
“Oh no,” Edgar whispered, digging frantically through the tops of the flowers for his eye.
“Hello?” Anne said, glancing at the tree.
Edgar froze. She was talking to him. He could hear her then, standing, walking toward the tree, toward him. She was going to talk to him! And he didn’t have one eyeball…
Abandoning another floundering mission, Edgar threw the flowers in Anne’s face and bolted off into the graveyard. Anne blinked a few times, assuring and reassuring herself that she had not seen an eyeball trailing after him.
As Edgar sat in a tree, his left eye having rejoined him, he considered pushing Anne off a cliff. It would be a gruesome death, the landing more than the falling. But it would be done, and there was not much he could do to mess up pushing someone off a cliff. But what if he missed? Or what if she didn’t die? Or what if she did die but it was dead dead. The kind he couldn’t stitch up?
And worst of all, what if, after the dying and the undying, she simply didn’t like him?
The next day it rained, and so, Anne did not come to the cemetery. The day after that was sunny, but still, Anne did not return. Three more days of good weather, and yet, no Anne.
It was on the sixth day, much to the irritation of many living in the cemetery, a funeral procession made its winding way through the narrow rows of headstones. A casket was lifted and then lowered into the ground. The dirt was replaced and the group dispersed.
Edgar had seen it many times. The promises to return every day, then every week, it becomes once a month and maybe once a year. And then, the stones break and the names of loved ones are grown over with moss. It was sad, but that was life. The endless, tireless march of moving on.
It was on his midnight wandering, after another unsuccessful attempt at befriending a cat, that Edgar heard a small voice.
Though he was undead, Edgar did not like to be frightened. “H-hello? Who’s there?”
“Could you help?” came the muffled voice again. “I seem to be underground.”
Edgar approached the rectangle of loose dirt and started to dig. It took his meager muscles some time to clear the lid of the coffin.
“Close your eyes,” he told the person. “The dirt will fall in when I lift this.”
He assumed the person complied and lifted the lid. The nails let go easily and he threw the wood up onto the grass.
“Can I open my eyes now?”
Edgar was dumbstruck, too much so to talk, so he nodded. You ninny! he thought to himself, she can’t see you! “Yes.”
The girl peeked one eye open, then opened the other. “Hi.” She climbed gracefully onto the damp grass, watching Edgar scrambled next to her.
“How did you…how are you…I don’t…” Edgar sputtered. “How did this happen?”
She pointed toward her stomach, where her insides were clearly visible. “I was hit by a car. There was rain that morning and the roads were very slippery.”
Edgar bit his tongue to keep from smiling, dawning a mask of sympathy and concern. “How awful for you. I’m Edgar.”
“Yes, well thank you. I’ll just be on my way.” Anne turned on her heel, marching off into the dark.
“But…wait! Wait!” Edgar scurried beside her. “Where are you going?”
“Home.” She glared at him and Edgar noted with a shiver that her eyes were not the clear, sad blue he had grown accustomed to. Her brows were knit tight together in annoyance and there was a spark that told him clearly he should best leave her alone.
“You can’t go home, miss,” Edgar tried.
“I think you’ll find I can. Now, go away.” She reached the edge of the graveyard and stalled. “Why can’t I go any farther?”
“Because you can’t leave. Because you’re dead.”
“I most certainly am not!” Anne preened at her long hair, pulling a bit of tire tread out. “Oh, yes…I suppose I am.”
“If you’d like, you can come back to my crypt.”
“Lovely,” she sneered. “Just lovely.”
“It isn’t so bad,” Edgar spoke through the door a while later. Anne had successfully locked herself inside his make-shift bedroom and refused to come out. “You’re lucky the embalmer was so quick, you shouldn’t have any deterioration at all!”
“What am I saying?” he mouthed pathetically to Brad and was answered with a loud wail from the other side of the door.
“Listen, love, I understand it’s quite the change but,” Edgar paused. This was the moment he’d been waiting for since the day he’d first seen her. “Everything will be perfect.”
The door was wrenched open and an irate, undead woman stomped out from beyond it. “Perfect?” she screeched. “Perfect? Tell me, how is everything going to be perfect? I was hit by a car and killed. I can’t leave this miserable place! And now the only things I have for company are a dead man and his pet fish!”
And then, to Edgar’s delight and horror, Anne burst into tears and threw herself into his arms. Edgar patted at her head awkwardly and brushed a lock of hair behind her ear. His hand grazed something sharp and he pulled a large piece of glass from her skull.
“Ouch,” Anne pulled away. “What was that?”
“Headlight,” Edgar surmised, tossing it to the floor.
“Thank you, it was giving me quite the headache.”
“No trouble,” then Edgar took a good look at her. Her brows relaxed and she shyly bit her lip.
“Yes, I am.”
“I believe these are yours,” Anne pulled his poems from her pocket, noticing her visible intestines. “Oh, how embarrassing. Do excuse me while I clean up a bit.”
Edgar took a deep breath and puffed out his chest. “If you’d like, I can stitch that up for you,” he offered her his hand.
She grasped it, intertwining their fingers together. “I’d like that very much.”
Edgar retrieved the glass from the floor and placed it in his pocket, a token of good luck and a sign that neither of them had to be lonely anymore.
And so, Edgar and Anne unlived happily ever after.