I found this while digging through my archives.

I wrote this in college for one of my short story classes. It’s short and very odd, but I thought I’d share because, honestly, I don’t have enough brain power to come up with an original post. But after two twelve hour work days and the annoyance of having my eyelid twitching randomly for over forty-eight hours, can you really blame me?

So, for your enjoyment, here’s something that I probably shouldn’t post online because it needs to be rewritten and edited and I don’t even know what. But I’ll share anyway.

Angel Rent in Stone (c) Emma Charles
Funerals

My mother goes to funerals. Not only the ones of people she knew, but random funerals. Ones listed in the obituary section of the newspaper. This particular Sunday I had just sat through the two-hour long service of an eighty-nine year old woman who had died doing her laundry.

“It was a beautiful service,” she said as we walked from the church.

“It was,” I responded. I put my hat back on—a gray fedora with a wide black band that I had no other occasion to wear—and take her hand to help her down the stairs.

“The flowers were beautiful. Very colorful.” She always commented on the decorations. Were there enough flowers? Were there pictures anywhere? Were there candles?

“They were.” I agreed as I helped her into the car, closed the door and moved to the driver’s side.

“There’s another one tomorrow,” she said once I got in the car.

“But tomorrow’s Monday,” I said. I loved my mother, she’d done more for me than was required of any parent, but I didn’t understand why she felt the need to mourn for people she’d never met.

“I thought it was an odd day, too.”

She seemed to have missed my hint. I’d have to try the more direct approach.

“You know I work during the week, Mom.”

“I can’t go by myself,” she said. “You know they won’t let me drive anymore.”

‘They’ being the government. Her license had been taken away after she’d had her third accident in a month. I was just glad they did it before I had to.

“I know, Mom.

“And I don’t have long.”

“Mom, don’t say that.”

“And all I want is to be able to—”

“I know, Mom,” I sighed.

“Is it really so much to ask?”

I shook my head. She’d worked three jobs to put me through medical school, just so I would have the time to study. She never held it over me, but I still felt like I owed her.

“No, it’s not too much to ask.”

“So you’ll come with me, then?”

“I’ll go with you,” I said, suppressing a resigned sigh.

The next morning, I picked her up from nursing home at eight. She smiled as I opened the car door for her; but, as I drove, I couldn’t put myself into my usual, indifferent mindset. I don’t know what got to me. Perhaps it was the fact that it was a weekday. Maybe it was the thought of seeing more old women–strangers–weeping. Whatever the cause, I finally had to ask: “What do you get out of this, Mom? Why do you think this is something you need to do?”

She folded her hands over her purse and stared out the window.

“Mom?”

She sighed and adjusted the veil on her pillbox hat, a present from my father over thirty years ago. Her thoughts seemed to go in the same direction.

“Your father died a long time ago.”

“I know, Mom.”

“Well, I don’t think I ever told you how hard it was for me to plan his funeral. We were young, then. We hadn’t even thought about it. He left me to plan it and pay for it and all I wanted to do was grieve. Your father left me with no will and no plans and no idea what I was going to do or how I was going to raise you and your sister.

“All I really want is to be able to be with you at my funeral. I know it sounds crazy, but I wish I could be there to help you through it, to comfort you. But I can’t. The best I can do is to make sure that you don’t have to do a thing after I finally go.”

“What are you talking about?” I asked, confused. My hands shook. I thought of all the times I had spoken of death casually—isn’t that the inevitable as a doctor?—but it sounded wrong coming from her lips, talking about her own death. I forced myself to calm down; she must be telling me this for a reason. What did she want me to understand?

“The only thing you’ll have to do is pick a day, my dear,” she sighed. “Once I’m gone all you’ll have to do is pick a day. Everything else is taken care of.”

“But then, why go to all these funerals?” I didn’t understand. It didn’t make sense. Why would she put herself through this if everything was already done? But she just looked at me and smiled.

“It’s not like I’ll get to go to my own, dear.”

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