Thursday, April 15, 2021

The Mourner by Hilary Taylor

She circled the two obituaries and set about preparations. Black dress and coat, no imperfections allowed – the dead deserved immaculate mourners. How she hated this modern trend of casual gear, bright colours; so tacky! Tights checked for ladders, shoes polished, large black tote bag emptied. It was a military operation, but preparation was key.

On the day, she dressed with care, adjusted wig and hat, ensuring her features were covered, picked up her gloves, and headed off to catch the bus.

She preferred a burial to a cremation, there was something honest about being laid to rest under the earth and it gave her more time to observe her fellow mourners, ensuring there was no-one who could recognise her. She enjoyed watching people handling their emotions in different ways, the “stiff upper lip”, the weepers and wailers, and those who wanted to be elsewhere but felt they should show their respects!

She waited before taking a pew towards the back. This was a good part, hearing all about the “Dearly Departed”; she played a game trying to work out what the speaker really thought of their departed relative, or if they knew them at all!

Mingling loosely between a couple of groups, so neither would realise she had no connection to the deceased, or ask “Who invited you?”, she manoeuvred herself to the buffet table, filling her plate and sneaking extras into her oversize bag, enough for her tea for a couple of days.

Then, it was down to business. She had been blessed with unremarkable looks, so no one remembered her, or could describe her. Mourners were such easy targets, bags left open, wallets bulging. No one ever noticed the professional mourner sneaking out the room with her huge tote bag bulging.


© Hilary Taylor

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