Short Story
                                      Thoughts at a Funeral
                                                                      By Bryan Nowak


      A satin pillow filled with cotton seemed like a bit of a waste. So much money spent on something to be
thrown into a hole where my body would just decompose on it anyway.

      I could only guess how funny I looked, dressed in my Sunday best. I’m fascinated by the comments
some of these people make. A few of them even said how lifelike I looked. If my mouth would move, I could
ask them how many times in my life they ever saw me laying in a casket, in a funeral home, with a bunch of
crying people looking for free snacks.

      Oh look, cousin Cory is here. His eyes are red and puffy. Poor guy’s been crying. I guess I haven’t
seen him in at least ten years, and we were inseparable as kids. I remember one time we played tether
ball. Pretty sure I remember that one of us broke a nose. I just remember there being a lot of blood, funny
how you think of a thing like that at a time like this. It’s silly, but I wish I could go spend a little more time
with him.

      
Hey, Cory? Do you remember all that blood? One of us bawled. Who was that? Oh, I suppose you
can’t really hear me, can you?

      There’s Aunt Heidi. Leave it to her to break out into shameless bawling the moment she saw me. Isn’t
she the one who is always telling me how death wasn’t really the end? If anything, she should be thrilled for
me and delighted to know she was right. Heidi would find it annoying that before the next step you have to
lay here listening to all these blubbering idiots file past you in a gawking parade. She used to make the
best chocolate brownies. Yeah, I’ll definitely miss her. It’s ridiculous, but I’d give just about anything to
stand up right now and hand her a tissue. I would probably scare the piss out of everyone.

      Aunt Heidi, if I’ve forgotten to tell you, you are my favorite aunt. Those brownies you used to … oh
yes, can’t hear me either.

      Sweet Jesus, there is Robert, Dave, and Mac from work. They also brought that new kid with them.
What's his name? I think it is Seth. He didn’t have to come, we barely knew each other. The kid struck me
as a bit of a weirdo. Tattoos all over the place and goth makeup made him look out of place at the plant.
Still, it was nice of him to come. I guess, it sounds silly, I feel a little sad about losing out on the opportunity
to get to know him better.

      Hey kid, why don’t we grab a drink after work and talk for a bit?

      A frail woman approached the casket. The woman who gave me life had aged a thousand years in the
last few days. I swear to God I can see the hole inside of her. She looked broken and torn-up. I feel like I
could reach out and touch her, maybe hold her and wipe that pain away. My arms refused to comply, laying
stubbornly across me where the funeral director placed them. I remember her telling me once that no
mother should ever have to bury her child. Yet, here we are.

      Mom, can you hear me? It’s Rodger, your baby boy. I’m right here in front of you. Why won’t you say
anything to me? I love you, Mom. I’m so very sorry, there was never enough time. I always said I’d come
over to visit but found a million reasons not to.

      Dear God, if you can hear me, please give me another chance. I promise I’ll do better. I can’t go to
the grave like this, there are too many things I put off, so many moments left unlived. I’m not ready to go.

      I watched as the funeral director stepped forward and placed one hand on the coffin lid and another
gently on my mom’s shoulder. “Mrs. Milligan, I can’t express, in a meaningful enough way how sorry I am
for your loss.”

      No, don’t close the lid. I’m not ready yet. I’m not ready to say goodbye. There are so many things I
still —
About Bryan Nowak

Bryan Nowak, the author of the books No Name, The Dramatic Dead, Riapoke, Crimson Tassels,
and The Reverent Dead, lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and three children. Studying
horror at an early age, he enjoys the quirky suspenseful style of horror over sheer blood and
guts.
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