The Dead Man’s Circumstances / Tristan Foster

Circumstances force him to wonder: Was I born dead? A dead man who simply spends his life waiting for the end to come, to be butchered, my head sent north, my limbs west and east, and, of course, south my heart?

Warm room. Cluttered yet tidy. An electric fan buzzes with aggression but achieves little. In that moment, the Dead Man seems to intuit that life and death are a matter of chance. The grub being plucked from the grass and eaten by a crow or instead dying deep underground from old age – they are one and the same, and the situation is no different for us.

Yes. Yes – that is it, he decides. I am an elegant skeleton on an unmade bed.

The idea flashes through his mind, skating in a clean line through thoughts rendered unjumbled and sheer from the heat and the boredom. Yes.

But, he thinks, I will tell no one, not ever. It will be my secret, my own personal mystery, property which can never be stolen or lost. Something he will take with him everywhere, a lucky charm. He seems to know it will bring to his days electricity and excitement, like a beautiful woman in pearls entering the room, and allow him to sleep soundly at night. That it will loosen his muscles and calm his brain.


Self-satisfied with this insight, the Dead Man turns on the television, positioned precariously on the dresser. Turns the volume up. Adjusts the aerial to give clarity to the image: a cartoon cat is chased by a swarm of bees to frantic orchestra music. The bees join together to create the silhouette of a hammer, then a fist, then an anvil. 

Tristan Foster is a writer from Sydney, Australia. He is the author of Letter to the Author of the Letter to the Father and 926 Years, co-authored with Kyle Coma-Thompson.

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