The big change here is that Alona is dead. On top of that, her death is a beginning, rather than an end. The emotions I pick up on that are a result of this change are acceptance (she’s dead, and she’s getting on with it) and connectedness (even though she still sees the physical world, she is now detached from it). It’s tempting to say the fear being activated is extinction, and that may be true for the reader, but I don’t see it as a fear for the character–she’s dead, but she still exists. To me, the fear is separation from the physical world. The core need I think the opening addresses is significance-where does she belong now that she’s dead?
What draws me to this opening is the irreverent tone. I also think the first line is great, and what I really like about it is that the author resists the urge to finish the thought: Dying should have been the worst moment of my life, but it wasn’t. I think the fact that it’s left unsaid allows it to linger with the reader.
The change in this opening is that Sam’s ex-wife is dead. Until he actually sees Mary Lou’s body, he’s hoping he’s wrong, but discovers he’s not. The emotions he’s experiencing are dread that he will find her body and anguish when he does. I think the core need here is certainty. He doesn’t want her to be dead, but he needs to know for sure. As far as a fear, this opening plays on the basic fear of extinction. By confronting his ex-wife’s body, he’s being forced to face the fact that she is gone.
What I like best about this opening is the writing style, which is direct. I also appreciate the way the writer builds up the anticipation for what Sam (and the reader) know he will find. And the fact that he finds what he thinks he’s going to find provides a little mental fix for the reader. The author delivers on her promise.