When Louise took the office job downtown—the one with the fluorescent lights, padded cubicle walls, and ergonomic chairs—her soul passed away. At first, Louise didn’t know, but one morning, it was right at the top of the obituary section: Louise Monroe’s soul, dead at the age of 34. Its interests included landscape painting and nephology, the study of clouds. It is survived by her human, Louise Monroe. Louise was called down to the coroner’s office. The death was reported to be a suicide. Louise asked if she could see her soul. The coroner brought Louise into the morgue and showed it to her. A toe tag—too large for the soul’s foot—dangled from its ankle, nearly covering a small tattoo of a paintbrush. Louise shut her eyes and left the chilled room. When Louise arrived home, she made French press coffee, set up an easel that she’d kept stuffed in a broom closet for years, and gazed up toward the clouds.
Mathieu Cailler is the author of seven books: one novel, two short-story collections, two volumes of poetry, and two children’s titles. His stories, poems, and essays have appeared in over one hundred publications, including The Saturday Evening Post and the Los Angeles Times. He is the recipient of numerous awards, most notably the Shakespeare Award, the Short Story America Prize, the New England Book Festival Award, and the Los Angeles Book Festival Prize. Feel free to connect with him on social media @writesfromla or at mathieucailler.com.
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