Lord Sparkle was eating his fourth bowl of glitter and milk when he realized he was choking. He coughed and coughed and choked some more before the stars in his eyes went dark and he fell to the cold kitchen floor.
"You were late again, Giovanna!" It was now nighttime and Lord Sparkle was glaring at his wife from where he lay almost asleep in his coffin. "You should be there when I die. I died again and you weren't there. You never are!"
Giovanna twirled a long piece of hair around her pinky and yawned. "I'm sorry, Sparkie, there was traffic today. Such a jam, honestly!"
"But I died. Again. And you were late. Again. What part of marrying a glitterghoste do you not understand?" He rolled over in the coffin and closed his heavy eyelids. Dying made a man very tired, especially when his wife didn't bother to show up. Giovanna climbed into the coffin beside him and hogged the blankets all night long, not to mention she'd stopped by the bean burrito place on her way home. It was a cold and gassy night for Lord Sparkle the great undying dyer and his tardy wife. While Giovanna slept, he stayed awake, finding himself thinking about all that he had been through.
He had married Giovanna when he was only a young glitterghoste; only on his fifty eighth death and still spry as a young bunny duck. The thing about glitterghostes is that they have to be human first. They really do, or the process wouldn't work. It wasn't anything like becoming a vampire or a werewolf. You didn't get bitten, or chosen, or anything or the noble sort.
No, to become a glitterghoste, you had to first be exposed to an immense amount of glitter. Preferably ingested.
Lucky Lord Sparkle had fallen face first into the biggest vat of glitter the world had ever set collective eyes upon. It had happened at the International Glitter Fair. Really, you would expect more glitterghostes to come out of that event, but other than Lord Sparkle there were very few others. Ever since that fateful day, he had been doomed to eat glitter on everything and die again and again and again on the second day of every two months. It was a dreaded life, and it would have been a solitary one if it hadn't been for Giovanna. Lord Sparkle, or Hank Brelwitt, as he used to be known, had met his wife at a support group for recent glitterghoste "converts" as they were typically called. She was attending a meeting with her brother... And the rest was textbook history.
They were swept up in a romance so deeply impassioned that it was no small wonder their marriage was having problems now. Even now, as Lord Sparkle lay in coffin with her not even inches apart from him, she had never felt so far away. She had been late to his death date even at the beginning of their relationship. Too late, in fact, because she often missed the whole thing. She never saw him stop breathing, never saw him fizzle out like a firecracker, never got to see him leave the world for minutes, even hours, at a time. On occasion she arrived when he was still dead on the floor, but never when he was dying, and this pained Lord Sparkle more than he would ever let on. Why would she miss such an important part of his life? If he missed her French fry naming ceremonies, he'd be in the doghouse before he could say "Thunderturtles."
And yet this standard did not, apparently, apply to Giovanna.
After hours of fitful thinking, Lord Sparkle finally slipped into a dream of drowning in oceans of glitter; it filled his mouth and nose until he couldn't scream or whimper or make any noise at all. In the dream he saw Giovanna, standing on the shore with a lifesaver in her hand. She watched as his head bobbed up and down on the crafty sea, but never once moved to throw the buoy. He woke from the nightmare with a thudding thunk of his head against the roof of the coffin. He slumped back down to the bottom of the box and glanced at his wife. She was snoring, her full lips parted to reveal her slightly gapped teeth. Lord Sparkle always found her teeth cute, endearing even, but now he just wished she would shut her mouth. Her breath smelled like mothballs and limes. Lord Sparkle pushed the lid open and stepped out of the coffin. The tiles were cold on his bare feet, though not as cold as his chest felt due to lack of coverage during the howling January night. Darn Giovanna's love of blankets, he thought to himself as he made a cup of glitter chamomile tea and cut a slice of glitter and poppy seed casserole.
Giovanna woke up an hour later and Lord Sparkle was already reading the newspaper. The headline read, Millions of People Refuse to Wash Stubborn Orange Stain off the T-Shirt of America. He rose from the table and walked across the kitchen to where Giovanna was making her plain toast. She looked up and smiled sleepily. Lord Sparkle did not return the greeting. "I'd like you to mark something on your calendar."
"Your death date?"
"Well, yes." He wished he could have plain toast too.
"No." She set the toast on a plate. "I don't think I will."
Lord Sparkle scowled. "Why not?"
"Do you want to know my real answer?"
"I most certainly do!"
She folded her hands and sat down at the table. "I hate the idea of you dying, okay?"
"What?" Lord Sparkle ran a hand through his hair and half a pound of glitter fell to the floor like a multicolored snowstorm of plastic dandruff. "What?"
Giovanna sighed. "I know I'm not a sentimental person, but I do love you a lot. I really do." Her fingernails rapped lightly against the kitchen table. "And every time the two month mark comes around, I can't get out of the house fast enough. Why would I want to watch someone I love die over and over again?"
"You know I'll always come back to you."
"But what if you don't? What if whatever massive blob of glitter that keeps you coming back gets dislodged while you die in my arms? What if I mess it up? What if I kill you?" She shuddered. "What then, Sparkie?"
"I had no idea you felt that way..."
"Because you rush right into conclusions! You want to label me as cold and distant when all I want is to keep you close to me. How do you think I like sleeping in a coffin every night?"
Lord Sparkle hadn't considered that. "I suppose you would find it very finalizing, dear." He took her shaking hands in his and placed them across his chest. "There, see? A big, beautiful, beating heart and it all belongs to you."
"Yes, indeed it does. And I never want to have to hear it stop beating, so quit telling me to mark my stupid calendar!" She ate a bite of toast and smiled. "I will mark my calendar for today though, because it's a very special Monday."
"Why? What are we doing?"
"Well," Giovanna gave Lord Sparkle's nose a tweak and he sneezed glitter. "We are going to have to buy a mattress because I don't want the new baby to have to sleep in a coffin." She patted her stomach, and Lord Sparkle was suddenly not so cold anymore.