Speaking of Funerals


On Monday, when I came in, there was a bouquet of big, beautiful white flowers on my desk. Shimmery ones, like lilacs are on the underside if you look at them from the right angle. I stood in front of them and thought how nice! My boss bought me flowers again! but then I looked at them a little more closely and I realized I recognized those flowers. They were the flowers they used around the coffin for the guy that died on Friday. He committed suicide.

People come by my desk and make a point to tell me how lovely they are. Especially the old ladies. I thank them and smile and secretly wonder if the oldies aren’t attracted to them because they’ve got some sixth sense that makes them privy to the fact that over the weekend, these flowers were flanking a silver casket, and these old ladies are getting ready to die. Before my grandmother died she always made a point to talk about it, and every time I went to visit her, she gave me things. Brooches. Vanilla-colored stationary paper. Tabloid magazines. Packets of oatmeal.

“Where did you get them?” Mrs. Carter asks.

My mother sent them; my brother gave them to me; I have a secret admirer. Peter Carrey shot himself.

“I really don’t know,” I manage to stutter, and I clench my jaw.

“Oh, well, they’re really just lovely!” she says. I swallow and suddenly feel very sweaty. I stare at the flowers.

And my boss thought this would make my office look prettier.

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