December 15, 2008
By Haley Reavis, Overland Park, KS

“Hey Louie, it’s Shannon. I know you wanted tulips, but I got the paper out a minute ago and there’s a discount on daisies, if you don’t mind it. I think they’d look alright next to the pond once it’s finished -- I’ve got another call coming in, so call me when you get this.”

The next call didn’t maintain the same casual atmosphere. “She’s suffered severe head trauma, and we don’t know that she’ll make it through the night.” This was the news received upon my arrival at the hospital. The doctor sent an apologetic look my way before disappearing down the long, stark hallway. Louisa sat to the right of the bed, and I to the left. Her face was buried in her hands, and her shoulders tremble furiously, in a pathetic attempt to conceal her sobs. I held my mother's delicate hand, as if to keep her from leaving. The veins on her wrist were protruding from age, and I felt for a pulse -- anything to assure me that the body in the hospital bed was still living. My mother squeezed my hand gently. It was the only movement she’d made. With this gesture of goodbye, the rhythmic beeps of her heartbeat on the monitor slurred together into one discordant note. The doctor gave his condolences, and attempted to hand us funeral papers. We blubbered something about owning a funeral home, in hopes that our words were even remotely coherent. They’d be delivering the body later that same day. After our signatures had been penned onto a couple of papers, we were permitted to leave. I drove, seeing as Louisa’s driving had been the reason for the hospital visit.

The car glided neatly into the garage. As I trudged into the house, it felt as if each of my limbs weighed a thousand pounds. Louisa staggered to the nearest chair, only to hold a terrifying presence. After an hour of silent mourning had passed, distraction was a necessity. Mindlessly I walked out back to work on the pond again. After seeking out my shovel, with the red grip handle, I began to deepen the pond with determination to forget the hospital. Louisa wandered towards the garden in a daze, and joined me in the already vast pit. It was too easy. My shovel drove the dirt out, swinging up and down, only inches from her skull. Yes, the daisies would be fitting. Thought played no part in my actions, as my shovel impulsively struck my sister once in the head, and again wherever it fell for each flog.

That evening, the hearse pulled up to our quiet house, delivering my mother. I opened her casket curiously. "Mother, why don’t you come to see our pond?” I suggest, pulling her into an office chair. “It's all dug out, and just needs to be filled. I think it'll be quite nice once we add some flowers." I wheel her out back, over the jagged ground, to give her a good view of the pond. I could tell she liked the backyard, so I left her to sit with Louisa awhile. I needed to make a call. When it's for a funeral home, no one asks too many questions, and it isn't difficult to obtain anything plausibly related to death.

The following morning was cloudy, as my shipment was promptly brought to our door. I lugged it through the gate, and towards the pond. Eager to fill it, but remembering to remove my shovel, the liquid rose quickly and the pungent fragrance intertwined with the clean air. "Louisa, I hope you don't mind, but I bought the daisies instead." Louisa stared blankly at me through the formaldehyde surface, and observed with my mother as I began planting. "No, I didn't think you'd mind."

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