Concise Prose. Enough Said.
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The Obituaries

By Colin O'Sullivan

Meg lives in Auckland. It’s always been her home. Her son lives near Guadalquivir. He never knew how to pronounce it until he had to live and work there; he used to say God’ll quiver.


Meg phones her son maybe once every two weeks, sometimes more, especially at, say, Christmas and Easter, or when there is something happening in her life, although usually there isn’t. She always tells him who’s dead. Without thinking it’s morbid or anything, just tells him, and he has come to expect it.

She tells him how they died too, if she has that information, thinking the cause will interest or comfort him: heart attack, aneurism, drowning, accident with a lathe. Or natural causes. They hate that one.

She never fails to tell him all this, sometimes even reading the notices straight from the local paper. If she were to forget somehow, then maybe he’d remark upon it; there’s no fear of them both forgetting.


They both smile broadly on the phone even though the other can’t see. They smile over her rustling of the paper, and sometimes he’s eating cereal at the time, crunching. But both are always smiling, glad it’s not yet them.


Colin O'Sullivan is an Irishman living and working in Aomori, North Japan. His stories and poetry have appeared in magazines such as The Shop, Carve, Dublin Quarterly and Staple New Writing.

 Colin's last work for VerbSap was Giants.

Photo "Vienna Calling II" courtesy of Oliver Gruener, Eching, Germany.

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