I’m giving specific instructions in my will that I be buried with items from one year in my life. Being a nostalgic person, I chose the twentieth year. I wanted all of 2009 in the coffin with me. I made it my hobby to start collecting while I was still alive. I drove to the town I grew up in to visit a storage unit that had been paid for by my family for years, a strange inheritance my grandfather started. Journals, notes to self, so many cracked up phones and all the cords to charge them. I’d saved many things. Carbon copies of all the checks I wrote…
Anything I kept in my secret shoebox, anything at all recoverable. The pins I collected while working at Outback, dumb notes I wrote inside Notes from the Underground. Job applications and poems cut from magazines. A bare-bones resume, farm work and busboy. My son’s photos from his first year of life, the original prints, the most valuable photos I own. His onesie dotted with little bananas. When I left his mother, I put everything in the storage unit and moved on. I want it back. I don’t know why. It contains everything. Bury me with it.
I made a list of the music and entertainment that saved my life when I was twenty. The booklet inside my 2pac discs, the CD player that glowed, the gas mask my friends and I stole from the Career Center firefighting class we took senior year and turned it into a bong you strap on your face. The first time we all used it, Andre spit up and bugged out while Three Six Mafia shook my Ford Explorer parked in the woods. The smell stuck to our faces for weeks.
Comments stapled to my papers by beloved professors. Shoeboxes, vials and receptacles that held my paraphernalia: rolling papers, mummified roaches, unidentifiable ash, powder. A smell of old burnt soil. A Little Tree car freshener that makes the inside new again, hanging just above my nose in the casket. Metal screws they took out of my arm, all ten of them along with the cast itself. I want the screws placed inside my left dress shoe and this note in my right shoe. A visual representation of my carbon footprint carved into the ceiling of the casket. Seeds from the tree I climbed on my birthday, which when it grows will explain everything all over again.
Maybe recover whatever is on the hard drive of my Dell laptop, print that disturbing daily journal I kept on there and stuff it in the grave. If I could choose the background music playing throughout my service, I would choose Music for Airports, the album that saved me when I was twenty. Put the necklace with the seashells around my neck and find our band shirt, Another Left Behind, and put it on me. The wristband from my first overnight stay at the hospital, the worst year of my life.
KENNETH JAKUBA’S fiction and poetry can be found in decomp, Chautauqua, Dunes Review, RHINO, december, and Passages North, among others. He received an MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, Where he also served as a poetry editor for Third Coast magazine. His mini-series, Reliever, is currently live at shitlitfic.com. Kenneth lives in Battle Creek, MI, with his wife, son, and preteen cats.