If the care she took in any other of her daily obsessions equalled that she took to ensure that her pedestrian pleasures would be undiscovered upon the unforeseen circumstances of her death, she’d be getting a lot more done at work. This much was for sure.

Every day prior to leaving the office, she’d empty the history and cache from her web browser, perform a hard delete of any emails that might have come from blogs or social networks or ex-boyfriends or whose contexts were not self-explanatory and open to incriminating interpretation. She’d search her computer for any file modified that day and ensure it met the quality standards she’d set for those likely to ply an executor’s course. Even her most trivial of sundry thoughts had to be ready for consumption; she had nothing to Will away, so to speak, so leaving only the fledgling dusting of genius for the off-chance of an aneurysm or wayward bus or crazed gunman seemed the least she could do to help her loved ones carry on without her. If she’d made any rote, unimpressive purchases that day, the receipts were disposed of in a bin on the corner two blocks away from her office, just in case a crime was involved and immediately surrounding environs searched. It wasn’t that she was doing anything to be ashamed of, nor that she thought her death imminent; she didn’t spend her day participating in pornographic websites, nor was she hiding drug habits or paramours or plastic surgery. But event still: her would-be bereaved would not be left to interpret her life’s worth through the poetic mystery of a slip evidencing a lunchtime burrito or box of tampons. Her expectations of their expectations of her were rigged high enough that even three sheets in and twice the feet under, the paint on her figurehead would be nowhere near flaking.

And so she covered her tracks of any trace of mundanity, with as much assiduity as she could remember. One could die in any number of ways, of course. No trip to the restroom was safe from even a cursory cleaning: if her death was discovered in the style of Elvis, all bets on propriety were off, but at least she could do her part to ensure that this wasn’t the extent of their memories of her. Hell, she could die right here at her desk, a heart attack or anxiety-derived stroke from endless clients nattering on about endless missed deadlines, most likely. She could easily spend her entire day deleting cache as she went, erasing these morsels the instant they were lived.

When he left, years ago, in unforeseen circumstances beyond his control, circumstances that would have her stop and make tracks into which she might then freeze, he left documented proof of the sleaze-and-charlatan history of their relationship, from a web history containing no shortage of tits and ass all the way up to the snatched and endlessly repurposed mad-lib rendering of surrealist love poetry. “To my woman with her sun-glazed hair, With her thoughts like heat lightning;” was the known version delivered to her in their happier times, where “coal-painted” turned up to describe the locks used to woo a predecessor, and “wheat-kissed,” god knows who that was. He hated blondes, he’d said, and nothing she was left to clean up provided evidence to the contrary. The women “added as a favorite” on his most frequented sites were mostly redheads, or rather “sun-kissed,” largely sharing her looks if one paused in just the right place. She supposed this could be seen as flattering, in the right light, whatever that was supposed to be.

There were also the Build a Better Vocabulary books, piles of them, stacked surreptitiously behind VHS cassettes behind winter sweaters on the above-eye-level shelf in a full-to-capacity and rarely-used closet, and discovered months after the not-unextensive perusal of his left embarrassments. They, too, could be perceived as touching, if the prior year “together” provided her with anything to corroborate the remotest possibility of such. He’d been rightfully accused of plenty, and his (misguided) efforts to speak the nuances of her language were just a part of his marketing strategy. It was impossible to say how or where or with what dime he’d procured them, though his use of them was the white noise of that thing she could now barely define as a romance. She assumed he’d learned them on the internet (only after discovering what he’d really been learning, to mild amusement), and delivered them on the spot, marching out of his room to drop an accusation of “obeisance to staid cultures” then stammering his way flush-cheeked through an answer to a follow-up of “what are you talking about, exactly?” She had never been good at bait-taking, and would be long dead otherwise. But there it was, a year later, an afternoon planned for packing and wasted instead to a curious thumbing through this new discovery. Page 68, yellow highlighter: obeisance. Page 106: perpetuate, used maybe four months prior to his departure: “you perpetuate every stereotype I know of.” She could write a new build-a-vocabulary book out of his usage, which would probably be both more entertaining and less demanding on the highlighter, but then he would have accused her of being “a puerile gimmick of a writer” and not even she had the metatextual capacity to pull that off.

She also didn’t have quite as many embarrassments of riches to worry about in the event of her departure from this world or even this life, but still, didn’t want to take the chance. After all, a short treatise admitting viewership of a dancing cat video would do nothing without her accompanying analysis. And her newer mate, new in relativist terms only, for he’d outlasted the others by at least double, had enough material to provide her an afterlife of humiliation, if either of them were to believe in such a thing. But we don’t believe in any of the sort, so here, before she departs and to spare her any further retentive digital cleaning, are the things that send her into fits of deletion:

• She occasionally will go on a game of Wikipedia Clicking that leads to unsavory or impolitic places, including the biography of Mussolini and the page, with a vector-rendered illustration, of the sexual practice of Pegging (in which she has never partaken and surely you could see how that might dent the memory of her)
• She visits often (twice daily) an online memorial for the best dead friend she hopes ever to have. It’s been a few years now, so comments are spare, but you never know.
• Likewise, she visits the personal blog of a long-long former boyfriend, though she has no interest in him, nor anything he writes about, which generally involves incidents from his own life poetically juxtaposed with scenes from the Star Wars trilogy (the original trilogy; not the new ones).
• She’ll watch music videos of songs she’s sure not to like, mostly by various pop princesses, just on the off-chance she finds herself on the receiving end of a lecture on how the autotuned-to-the-brink voice of the minute is really “the voice of the twenty-first century.”
• To wean her brain off of whatever catchy melody embeds itself from that last point, she’ll then glue herself to a David Bowie song, or sometimes Paul Verlaine, which itself is nothing to red-facedly delete before every trip to the restroom, but for god’s sake, a new narrative could be written for her if you knew she’d played it fifty times straight.

Finally, she penned a fiction that divulges all of this in the third-person, so that, if the Massive Coronary Event of the Century occurred when she was halfway through the Wikipedia article on tribbing with the China Girl video on repeat in a separate browser window, it might be inferred that this was all research for the novel she was most assuredly writing. She wouldn’t say hello to her own end until this task was finished; this was the only thing she was sure of, or so she said. But how could I believe her, knowing how far she was going to prove me wrong?

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