Adrienne Wolfson sat in the ambulance with her husband's body all the way to the hospital, crying. She continued to cry as a doctor and a hospital psychologist tried to console her, and then handed her a card for, "a very good mortician" that the psychologist knew, whose office was not too far away. She nodded a thank you, and left feeling cold and uncertain, empty.
Although she didn't really remember it, she must have walked to the mortician because when she came back to herself fully, she was sitting in his office, discussing what type of casket Edgar would have "liked".
"I don't know," Adrienne said. "A box?"
"Of course," the mortician, Alan Blakely, said. He seemed to tower over her even as he sat. A strong smell of formaldehyde wafted off of his clothing. Perhaps it was the light, or perhaps it was the result of so many years underground due to his craft, but Alan Blakely seemed unusually pale; a trait, for some reason or other, she found quite discomforting.
"What I meant to say," Alan went on, "is whether he had thought about a colour, a type of wood, the lining, that sort of thing."
"Oh," Adrienne said. "No, I don't believe he had."
Alan smiled, as if he had been expecting this answer. "Of course," he produced a small file from a drawer under his desk. "I'll leave you with this catalogue, then, and you can have a look through it and decide on the kind of thing that..." he paused.
"Edgar," Adrienne said.
"Yes," Alan continued, "that Edgar might have liked."
Adrienne nodded and left the darkly decorated office out into the sunlight. She realised that she had not driven to the hospital, having been riding in the back of the ambulance, and so she decided it might be best to walk home; she couldn't bare to be on the bus or the train, they just seemed like metal caskets now, all looking like the image on the cover of the brochure that Alan Blakely had given her.
The brochure's title was SENDING OFF THE DEPARTED and had an image of a mahogany casket with gold trimming on it. A placid and smiling woman was airbrushed above the casket, showing that she was content with the casket she had chosen for her father or lover or son. She questioned, with those eyes, "will you make the right choice?"
And Adrienne did not have an answer.
As she walked in the dying daylight, the sun retreating past the horizon of buildings, colouring the world orange and purple, through all the noise and hustle and bustle of the city streets, not a single person was aware that Edgar was dead. Not a single person was aware that she was grieving. And, perhaps worst of all, not a single person she stopped on the street to tell would care. Not really care.
She stopped in at her usual bakery and picked up a large loaf of white bread - Edgar's favourite.
"How's Edgar?" the baker asked, handing her the loaf of bread in a plastic bag.
"Fine," Adrienne said. "He's just fine."
And she left without answering another question, which she's sure he'd asked, but did not hear.
It did not take her long to get home, but by the time she did night had fallen and the streetlamps began to flicker on in large pools.
NOTE: Not finished. more to come later.