Maybelle had always been a girl with an odd coffin.

It dated back to a tie when she was very much alive. Her father, Augustus, had been a joiner and amateur silversmith. He had made a hobby of preparing lavish coffins for every member of the family, to spare the bereaved the expense. His own coffin was guilded in stainless silver leaf taken from an old serving tray, with griffin claws at each angle holding orbs engraved with dog Latin, for instance.

For Maybelle, even after she went to live with her fiancée, Augustus had seized upon her love of Dickens to produce an engraved tableaux of mourning characters from Oliver Twist and Bleak House. Rather than griffin-clawed orbs, the corners were protected from postmortem breakage by the shapes of London buildings, at least as they were known to a book-loving South Dakotan of modest means and no money for a railroad ticket.

Ironically, when the time came to lay Maybelle amid her Dickensian silver, a load of bricks topped with mementoes was put under instead, for the boiler explosion had left nothing to bury. Maybelle herself thought this rather a waste, and began her career as a specter orbiting the casket much as she might have if it had been filled with her mortal form rather than her diary and the contents of her hope chest.

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