"I am the Resurrection and the Life". Heads turn as the coffin enters the church, which is bright with daffodils ("they were her favourites"). The organ plays something quiet and respectful. People murmur safe little cliches; "a good innings"; "merciful release". After all, ninety-five is a good age.
The service gets under way. A son reads a lesson; a friend give a eulogy; a small great-grandson plays a tune on a recorder. And all the while, the grey heads turn, giving each other covert looks, and the unspoken question hangs in the air. Who will be next? Will it be me? You? The brave cousin with her cancer?
Two weeks later, some of the same people gather for another funeral. There is weeping; more whipers: "hit and run"; "the driver never stopped"; "an only child, too".
The small white coffin is carried down the aisle. The little boy has his recorder beside him; he never went anywhere without it.
No-one wonders who will be next.
(I honestly don't know what got into me. It's my birthday, too!)
Tuesday, 18 February 2014
Posted by Frances Garrood at 10:55
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I went to my brother-in-laws funeral this week, so this is extra poignant, Frances. Wishing you a very Happy Birthday (I think you should now write something cheerful for your big day)ReplyDelete
Thank you, Wendy. Actually, I was feeling very cheerful. Odd, that.Delete
As we age we all think more about death, but it does us no good. Try to find something to smile or laugh about. I'm certain you'll find something to lift your spirits today.ReplyDelete
Happy birthday, Frances.
Thank you, Fanny. Actually, I had a lovely day.Delete
Many happy returns. Come for a beer and if you can't come all this way just send the money to the Pine Marten Bar Glenmore. We'll manage just fine,ReplyDelete
You can be a tad depressing.
Cheer up I'll pay full price for your new book. I am saving 'Dead Ernest' so I can read them together. Sorry, I meant one after the other.
How long will it be?
Have a good birthday.
Thanks, Adrian. Does the offer still stand? And do they do pork scratchings?Delete
Oh Frances, you hit me right in the chest with that! I actually felt a thump! A powerful piece of writing.ReplyDelete
If I write something sad, I always feel happier afterwards as if I've let something go. Perhaps that's why you wrote it. I hope you have a very happy birthday xx
Thank you Teresa. I had a super birthday. I think the piece was inspired (?) by the fact that we (the church choir) sang at a funeral the day before. There were a lot of very old people, and I thought they MUST be wondering who'll be next. I certainly was!Delete
Happy birthday Frances. Hope your mood doesn't match your writing. It was very good though.ReplyDelete
Happy Birthday, Frances!ReplyDelete
Your flash fiction is very good in that it tells a full story - actually more than one - in few words. That is art, if you ask me.
Meike, you are very kind!Delete
I hope your birthday is much happier than this post suggests.ReplyDelete
It was, Patsy. Almost worth being a year older. Almost...Delete
Gosh. I have a busy afternoon and evening here 13 hours ahead of you and suddenly I've missed your birthday. Ah well. Happy The Rest of Your Life.ReplyDelete
13 hours. Ah, I was wondering. Not around to police the antics taking place on your blog, then?Delete
No I woke to them this morning. I think I might post some nice bird photos tomorrow. Safer!Delete
Dear oh dear; a tad depressing. I've missed the big day, so I send my best wishes retrospectively.ReplyDelete
Thanks, CM. Any kind of best wishes are always welcome.Delete
That was a very poignant and thoughtful piece, Frances. Hope you're now having a joyful birthday!ReplyDelete
You really never know who it might be next. Lovely piece - I love the tight writing flash fiction imposes. Hope you had a good birthday.ReplyDelete
Woops - didn't realise I had already commented!ReplyDelete