The First Time I Died by Brittany Kerfoot

The first time I died, I felt fireworks shoot down my legs and I could taste their colors: red like your heart before it stopped and turned gray, golden green like your eyes. My chest was heavy and my head was light; my eyes were swollen like a prize fighter’s.

I touched you and repeated I’m sorry, I love you, I’m sorry.

When you saw me, you raised your head like you had not done in days and stumbled toward me, wobbly on your weak legs, because you knew me. I cried and put you back on your blanket, pink and warm and damp.

My new husband held me while I shook, and the woman in the white coat, with the accent I could not place, looked at me. She touched an awkward hand to my shoulder. She asked if I was ready. How could I be ready for a thing like this?

My heart stopped too, with yours, in that room that was so white and too cold. When you went, I did not feel you go. I had read pages and pages about losing, about letting go; they all said I would feel it happen, feel you slip to the other side, feel God take you, Allah take you, the earth take you. The woman in the coat asked if she should take you, and I gasped and shook (my head) without thinking, without checking.

I spent the next four days half-dead, terrified you were half-alive, barely breathing in a box somewhere.

When they sent you back to me, nestled on a silk pillow inside mahogany wood with your name in gold script, I set you on a high shelf, where you always liked to be, proud surveyor that you were.

I died again in the bathtub that night–my knees like hidden lumps of the Lochness, sharp peaks half-submerged– with my head underwater listening to the drain, the suck suck suck of it swallowing big gulps. The last of the water slipped out too quickly, before I could cup it in my hands and cradle what remained, eddying around the drain and rushing downward. I put my ear to the floor, strained to hear it slip-sliding through the pipes, running off to a world I could not see, but there was only the clanging of my downstairs neighbor, the smell of soap.


BKheadshotBrittany Kerfoot received a BA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University. You can see her complete publication history on her website at Brittany lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and their six rescue pets. She has a passion for feminism, animal rights, Netflix, and Champagne. She currently works as an adjunct English instructor at her alma mater and a writer for Eventbrite DC. When she’s not writing, you can find her in the middle of a reality TV binge, planning her next overseas adventure, or on a long walk with her dogs around the city.






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