Surrounded by it in life, surrounded in death

Neville thought it would have been sorted by now. How hard was it to pick a bunch of flowers?

“The blue ones are nice,” he offered.

Miriam shook her head. “He never liked blue.”

All men like blue, Neville thought. What’s not to like?

“It’s cold,” Miriam said, as if reading his mind. “Papa wasn’t like that.”

All the years Neville had known Jack Taylor, he’d never seen a warm side to him and now Neville had to wait patiently while his wife chose the accompaniment to the old man’s coffin. Neville would have had him sent off in a cardboard box if they’d had one big enough.

“The best that money can buy,” he heard her say as she pointed to a picture in a display folder.

The undertaker bowed his head but Neville was sure there’d been a hint of a smile. He imagined the man rubbing his hands together had they not been holding the folder.

“Wise choice, madam,” he’d said.

Neville thought it patronising but said nothing. As long as Miriam was happy, he was happy, but of course she wasn’t.

Neville watched as the man cupped the book shut, making Miriam jump, then he pulled out another folder, a red one this time.

Oh great, Neville thought as a sea of two-dimensional coffins were thrust before Miriam. Neville looked at the prices; increasing as she worked her way through the folder.

“He’s going to be scattered anyway, isn’t he?” Neville grimaced when he realised he’d said it out loud.

Miriam and the undertaker, whose name Neville had forgotten as soon as the man had brought out the first folder, the ‘Manager’ badge not helping, both glared at him.

“Sorry,” Neville whimpered.

“Papa deserves the best,” Miriam sobbed and accepted the offering of a marble-enclosed box of tissues from the ‘Manager’.

“Sorry, Miriam,” Neville repeated. “Of course he does.” Neville sat in silence while Miriam flicked pages back and forth.

181 walnuts 705997“He liked walnut,” Neville finally blurted out.

Miriam turned round to face him. “What?”

“His car has a walnut dash. He must have liked it.”

The undertaker leaned forward and turned a couple of pages, then tapped one of the coffins.

Miriam turned back to the desk. “That’s… nice. OK. Let’s have that one.”

As his wife handed over her personal credit card, Neville smiled as he recalled the conversation he and Jack had had not longer after he’d bought the car. How much Jack had loved it, except for what he’d called the “revolting walnut dash”. Surrounded by it in life, surrounded in death.

***

Picture above courtesy of morguefile.com.

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