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A Most Memorable Funeral

The people, all dressed in somber colors of grey and black, were crowded around a small, fresh-dug grave, in front of which was a small, tan-colored casket closed shut. The sky above was an angry shade of grey, threatening to bring all the forces of Heaven and Hell down upon them if further angered. The air was sharp and cold, stinging the skin and smarting a fire in the chest. The ground was damp and murky, and the thick, black mud clung fiercely to whatever it touched. One might think the weather was well-matched for a funeral. But not this funeral.

The funeral was less a ceremony of mourning and more of a public spectacle. The people standing in from of the casket were the family of the deceased, and were a young couple of fortune. The man was tall and dark-featured; his tears mingling with the mist of rain as they poured down his face. The woman was thin and pale, and was glowering at the casket with what appeared to be a look of irritation. Behind them were two sections of people, and although not formally segregated, were divided by age. The youths looked upon the scene in front of the casket with a romantic eye, particularly the females. Their eyes were filled with tears as they looked on, their husbands and lovers standing behind them, clearing their throats and fidgeting uncomfortably.

The elderly women looked on with more of a critical eye, taking in the demeanor of the dead child’s mother and father. None were more critical nor more amused than the eye of Miss Daisy Perkins, who was leaning forward on her cane, muttering to Claressa Lee beside her. “There’s Hannie Marshall with Martin Gayman. Thought she was married to Louisianus Marshall. But wait – there he is with Pepper Payne. Well, well. Miss Pepper Payne. Lots to say ‘bout her. Her husband Amos is off with some gal up in Tennessee. And here Pepper done jumped from Therry Macintosh to Micah Reynolds to that Negro Obadiah Freedman – now that caused a scandal! – to Lou Marshall. These young things is wild and loose, ain’t they?” She chuckled softly. “But these Watson people…They’re different. Almost…respectable. But that’s impossible. Ain’t nobody respectable no more, and they ain’t never been, cetpin’ Jesus and the Virgin Mary, and that’s about it.”

She leaned forward a little more, clicked her tongue, and shook her head. Claressa shook hers, too. Her eyes glittered eerily as she stared at the young couple. Then, a sharp, biting wind kicked up, and Daisy’s head flashed to the casket. She leaned forward even more, her eyes narrowed, and her head tilted towards the casket, focusing intently. After a moment, an amused chuckle escaped her lips. Claressa looked at her as if she were mad. But Daisy just murmured, “Well, well….This funeral’s gonna be more interesting than I thought.”

The people quieted down after a moment, and the cemetery was silent and still. All eyes were focused on the somber-faced priest standing in front of the young couple. with the exception of Daisy Perkins, whose eyes were fixated on the casket. All faces were grave, except Daisy’s face, which was excited, and the young mother’s was still irritated. The priest opened his mouth to say the words he’d said a million times at a million other funerals before this one. “Dearly beloved, we are gathered her today-“

He was interrupted by a high-pitched shriek, which pierced through the silence like a knife ripping through skin. The large crowd of people started to stand, their eyes glancing around and widening, cried tearing from their lips. But Daisy Perkins remained seated, her eyes still on the casket. Then, another scream sounded, and all eyes turned to the casket.

The casket suddenly moved a couple of inches on the altar it was sitting on. Then, the top of it ripped open from the inside, and a pale-haired girl in a long, white dress stumbled out, capsizing the casket, both tumbling down into the black mud..

A moan cam from the lips of the girl’s mother, and she clutched her husband’s arm and frantically backed up, trying to pull him back with her, but he wouldn’t budge. His eyes were fixed on his daughter in shock, whereas his wife looked terrified. The little girl stood up, the black mud clinging heavily to her white dress, her eyes bulging and darting around anxiously. She stumbled forward, the same horrified and anxious look on her face. Then, she raised up a long, thin arm, and pointed at her mother.

“She did this!” she shrieked, her eyes full of an unnatural fire. She ran towards her mother, her hands balled into fists. “You poisoned me!” she screamed at her mother. She ran towards her mother, her hands out. “Let me take you to Hell with me!” she screamed. She was only inches from her mother when she froze, her face blanched, and she fell into the mud, convulsing. Blood spewed from her mouth, mixing with the mud beneath her. Her eyes never left her mothers’ as she stopped chocking, and lay still. The woman watched as the life left her daughter’s eyes. Her daughter gave one last twitch, and then lay still.

The woman gave a groan, and pitched forward, and subsided to sobbing on the ground. Her husband glared down at her as if she were a monster, and a young woman in the crowd gave a wail and fainted. The priest knelt down to the muddy, blood-soaked corpse, and Miss Daisy Perkins just smile, laughed, and said, “This was a memorable funeral. A most memorable funeral.”





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