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The Dead Princess

Jason Bulkeley

I dated a 38-year-old Russian woman for two years. We had everything in common, but it didn’t work out. She left me on Sunday, July 8, 2018. She died on Sunday, September 8, 2019, in a small plane crash in Marathon, Florida. She was an avid Marathon runner.

The NTSB report revealed the plane crashed in 8 feet of water, had a compass heading of 8, the runway was 5008 feet long, and the address was 8800. In her room was her favorite picture of rustic and colorful Russian windows. Inexplicably, there was a large “8” painted on one of the windows. A year later, the NTSB released her iPhone. It seemed hopelessly damaged, but I had it fixed and one of the photos showed her hand over a ruler with the 8-inch mark between her fingers.

A year after the accident, I took a plane ride over the airfield and asked the pilot, a man named Sol, to fly a figure 8 over the airfield in her honor. A few months later near my home, a large black dog attacked my dog from across the street. Its owner came running over. I couldn’t believe my eyes. She bore a striking resemblance to my late girlfriend. The same height and same age; she even had the same pageboy haircut with a patch of jade green, which my ex wore ten years earlier.

I had to show her the picture. She was shocked and agreed it was a striking resemblance. I didn’t tell her anything about her death. When I asked where she lived, she said “across the street.” She must have been lying, because I had never seen her before, and I never saw her since. I asked her the name of her dog. She said “Sol.”

A day later, a letter arrived addressed to my ex-girlfriend. It stated the sender wanted to return a beautiful cylindrical black lacquer box with gold paint. He said he had bought it from her 22 years ago and he was in ill health and wanted to return it to the artist who created it. He had paid $2,000 for it 22 years ago, and it was worth much more. He felt that she needed it back.

I called him and told him she had died two years ago. He said he wanted me to have it, that it was meant to be. When I received it, I was stunned by the detail and workmanship. It was an unusual piece, cylindrical, like a funeral urn. The box was entitled “The Tale of the Dead Princess,” based on the fairy tale of the Sleeping Beauty. I had been looking for a proper urn for her ashes, which her mother had given to me.

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