Meet Mrs Death, the mesmerising protagonist of Salena Godden’s darkly comical debut novel
I know a lot of dead people now. And I know your death is inevitable and necessary. Without death you wouldn’t live; without knowing you die, this would be endless. That is why you need death. Without death this would be a never-ending conveyor belt of sensation. You would be nothing without death; you would be chubby pink toddlers consuming without remorse, bearded babies, big-breasted, hot-fisted infants, as destructive as children stamping on sandcastles; you would be worse than you already are. Each year you would smash your faces down into burning wax, your birthday cakes on fire: 246 years old! 246 candles! Still going strong! Hurrah!
Death. To imagine your own death is to be living. To be friends, to be friendly with the knowledge, the knowing that death will come. This should make you try harder to be living, to be fully alive and lively. Surely you know you are all dying? You know – you all know – that you’re going to die. This should make you all want to be good, to be better. You know, since you are here and shit, you may as well give a shit.
To imagine your own death is to imagine that this will all end. To visualise the death of your elders, your parents, your siblings, your children, your lover, your world – to imagine these disasters should make you try harder. In theory. It should make you try hard to be a better person. Now, this should be the death of the demanding chubby shit you were and the birth of the kind wise person you will become. What a glorious mess this living is.
Do not run away from the inevitable, the beautiful and glorious ending, the proof you lived, the life you lived. To live tasting metal is blood. To live saving tokens is death. To die is to have been alive, that is why you must live: live free, live wild, live true and live love alive. Let the fire burn you and the light blind you. Let your belly get full and fat and embarrass you. Let your words fall out and tumble carelessly and honestly. Let your passions be unlimited. And do your lifetime all in your own life time. And let all your shits stink and all your roses bloom. May your every success be a threat. Fuck being scared and infected with fear and doubt. Own your rejections and own your failures; they are an excellent wall to smash and to kick against. Every morning may you rise to fight and to create yet again, this time with both fists, and not with one hand behind your back.
And sex. May your sex be alive and good sex. Sex like fucking in a broken lift, hurtling down with the skyscraper in flames. May sex be like diving and may sex be like flying, may your sex be like breathing love’s name in a prayer; like finding home, dry land and earth. And kissing, so much kissing, the best kisses. Sex and food and drink and books. You really don’t need much else. Maybe a nice view of the sky. Some shoes that don’t hurt. A bed and roof that won’t leak. Some singing, some music and tempo. A heart full and a soul fed, a head full of dreams and possibilities, what more could you possibly want? What more is there?
Some people never imagine their death. They rush and push and elbow through life, they use people like stepping stones or the rungs of a ladder. They use people and take what they need and move on, they consume and consume, constantly taking, reaching and grabbing. Where the fuck do they think they are hurrying to? Where do they think this road goes?
I am Mrs Death and I am coming for you all. Accepting me is the first step, after that it gets easier, I promise you. Knowing me, knowing this, knowing that, that this all ends, is the best knowing you need to know. You will all go away one day, and what a relief. One day you all won’t be here and it will be over. Finished. Your input is over, you have no more content or comment, nothing more to share and to say. You don’t get the last word. Death gets the last word. I get the last word.
When you die, it will not be how you think or when you expect. I do not come for you like a cleaner when it is handy and convenient for you. Let’s just hope you leave the world a better place than the one you were born into, a world fit for generations to come. Let’s hope I come when you are busy doing something you want to live for. Let us hope I come when you are doing something you would die for. And let’s hope that if you do kill yourself, you are well over forty years old, because to kill yourself before age forty is like murdering a stranger.
So take today and blow its mind; take this today and suck it dry. Take today and fill it with the best of you. Take today and down it in one, take today like a shot of petrol and set your day alight. Take today and fuck it like the last fuck in Pompeii as burning lava covers your home. Like the last fuck before they switch off the light, shut the curtains. Like the last fuck before they shut down the machines, like the last fuck before they drop the fucking bomb. Fuck it. Once and for all. Fuck it tenderly and tell it you love it, fuck it and hold it, fuck it and look it in the eye, tell it you love it, but then fucking let it go.
Extracted from Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden (Canongate, £14.99)
Salena Godden is our special guest on A Drink with the Idler on 4 February. Register here.