Certified

My name’s Anna and I’m certified to bring people back from the dead. Sometimes they don’t want to come, but that’s neither here nor there.

What matters is that I’m certified. Licensed. Allowed. People come to me with their problems because they know I’m qualified to help them.

And being qualified means I have to follow the rules.

That’s why, when Adrienne asked me to raise her boyfriend Victor, I said no. I’m not allowed to raise people I know. The authorities think it will lead to self-indulgence, raising everyone we ever loved who died.

I don’t think so. Some people are better off dead, and I like to think I’m mature enough to realise that.

‘You bitch,’ Adrienne said. ‘You’d bring him back if he was your boyfriend.’

‘I wouldn’t,’ I said, jutting out my chin.

‘You would too, and you know it.’

I didn’t. Rules are important. I don’t break rules.

‘You bring him back, or else.’ She leaned over me, trying to look threatening.

I thought she just looked fat. ‘There are plenty of other Raisers,’ I said. ‘Try one of them.’

She shook her head. ‘They’re too far away. You’re the only one I can afford.’

I snorted. Adrienne was always trying the strapped-for-cash line. Just like she was always throwing money around, wasting it on frivolous things like junk food and maths tutors. ‘Yeah right,’ I said.

‘Yeah,’ she said. ‘Right.’ She leaned closer and I could see the blackheads on her nose.

I tried not to laugh.

‘Bring him back,’ she said. ‘Or. Else.’

‘Go screw yourself,’ I said. ‘Someone has to, now Victor’s gone.’

I rolled my eyes at the look on her face. Her nose was trembling, and her cheeks had little red spots like she'd applied blusher her blusher wrong. She always was melodramatic. She ought to learn that anger didn’t suit her.

I almost opened my mouth to tell her so, but she stormed out. Good riddance. My work was more important than fake friends.

She was pissed off, but I figured she’d get over it.

Wrong.

A few days later, I stared down at the face of my own boyfriend as he lay on the slab. Adrienne sent me a letter, gloating.

Do you like your birthday present? I think the dried-blood colour suits his complexion. I’ve made sure no other Raiser will take him. It’s you or no one. I know you’ll do it. And when you’re done, I’ll bring Victor over.

If you don’t, I can send you more bodies.

I stared at Aaron, lying there on the morgue table. I didn’t want to break the rules. I’ve never broken rules. Not even when I was a little kid. Mum always said I was a good girl, and I didn’t plan to change.

But it was Aaron.

I’d loved him since the day I’d met him – nine weeks, three days, four hours and thirty-six seconds, now. Thirty-eight.

And he loved me too. He told me so. We leaned up against the bricks of the school building after hours and he put his hand up my shirt and told me.

I loved him.

So I raised him. Sure, some people are better off dead. But he wasn’t one of them. I’m mature. I know.

The authorities came to visit not long after. It wasn’t so bad. They let Aaron go. And they made it nice and quick for me. And clean. And they let me keep my certificate.

My name’s Anna and I’m certified to bring people back from the dead. But I won’t any more. The dead can’t raise the dead.

Ω

Amy Laurens  Amy Laurens's website lives in Australia with her husband and two Labradors. One of the three tends to bash on the keyboard when she's writing to try to get attention. By day, Amy is a high school English teacher; by night, she's pretty much glued to her laptop, creating worlds weird, wonderful and fantastic.