• Her name was something simple – Kimberly Jones, Kimberly Anne Jones. Kim, Kimberly, Kimmy, and sometimes Anne when she just didn't feel like being Kimberly anymore. Her name drove her crazy in its simplicity, in its normalcy; so common, so boring, she never wanted to be boring. She wanted to be crazy, to be loud and bright and wonderful, bonkers, mad, out of her head but never boring. Boring was bad. Boring was sin.

    She dressed in bright colors, she dyed her hair into a dark, straggly rainbow and pierced her ears, her lips, her nose; she even colored her skin with tattoos – small ones, little hearts or stars, but bright, always bright and bold and loud in a silent way. She smiled all the time, every moment she was smiling and laughing, showing bright white teeth, perfectly straightened from two years of braces that had been adorned with rainbow rubber bands. I know her parents said she had a Cheshire Cat smile, as if she knew something that the world didn't.

    I don't know if I knew her well, I don't know if I loved her or hated her and the way she always seemed to be screaming at the world Look at me, look at me, but I was with her when it happened, when she flashed her straight white smile for the last time.

    It was loud and painful and so quick, a flash of metal, a scream and a screech and the smell of burned rubber, and then everything was lights and blurred colors like a Van Gogh painting too close, just daubs and smears and nothing made sense anymore, and people were rushing by and shouting loud, so loud and yet so quiet, like I was only hearing the echoes of screams.

    What happened, what happened?

    She just ran out in front of me, I – I –

    Someone call 911.

    She's not breathing! She's not breathing!

    The ambulance is coming, sweetie, just stay with us, just stay with us.

    The ambulance came but there was nothing left, they said – DOA, Dead on Arrival, call the coroner, time of death 2:34 PM, black plastic bag and I hysterically wanted to scream at them, to tell them that black was too boring, that she would want something better than that, that she probably deserved something better than that but I don't really know if that's true. I wanted to scream, I wanted to tell them but I couldn't speak, I couldn't move, and everyone was spinning around me, not noticing. Yellow tape and the police called the street cleaners to clean up the area where the crash happened, where she lost her Cheshire Cat smile so fast and so soundly.

    Her funeral was everything it shouldn't have been. Black, black, everywhere, black or brown and it was so boring, so sinful in the Religion of Kimberly Jones, that I wanted so desperately to do something to that dreary darkness, to paint it or break it or I didn't know what, but it was wrong still and I hated it for her.

    Her casket was brown and polished, the lid swung upwards to reveal a lining of ivory white that did nothing to help the monotonous injustice of the world in that room. I was silent behind two mourning figures – her aunts – until they moved and I stepped up to the wooden box, careful not to put my hand on the slick, varnished surface as I leaned over to look inside. My arms were held to my side and I was sure I looked ridiculous, but I didn't care because there was so much else going on that they wouldn't notice me, though I seemed to be the only one not dressed in black.

    I looked at her and almost cried, because she looked so normal there, in a macabre way. Her parents had removed her piercings, had dyed her hair back to its normal black-brown color, had painted over her tattoos with make-up, and she wore a plain white dress that was pretty, beautiful, but just not her. Never would be her, never could be her, and I almost cried because it wasn't fair that they didn't know that.

    Her grin was gone, too. I didn't know what I was thinking, assuming it'd be on her in death just as it was in life, but it'd been such a staple, such a requisite feature of her that I didn't think she should be without it no matter what.

    There is nothing I can do, though, and I step away from the casket, turn around and look at the large, open doors of the church where the sun was beaming in, hot and bright and wonderful. The dust floating through the air swam through the beam and refracted the light, making the scene appear surreal as I walk toward it. It is time to go; there is nothing left to see here.

    I'm ready to leave, I say to the man standing outside.

    He nods and I follow him through the sunlight, the glorious sunlight and I smile, wide and bright.

    What's your name? He asks when we stop.

    My smile grows larger, still, and I push a strand of blue-dyed hair from my face. The light reflects off a silver ring pierced through the left side of my bottom lip and the sparkle momentarily distracts me but I respond nonetheless.

    Kimberly Anne Jones, I say, But I've always wanted it to be something else.

    The man smiles.

    You can be anything you want here, Kimberly...

    Welcome to the afterlife.