“I’m going to be a mortician,” Heather said as she blew her plume of smoke away from the circle of smokers gathered outside. Her former classmates stared at her. “But, I’m scared there’s a lot of math involved.”
“I’m pretty sure you have to get a medical degree,” Reuben said. “So, yeah, some.” Reuben stuffed his butt in the stone planter filled with sand and lit another. “Why do you want to be a mortician?”
“It’s just something I would be good at, and I can do it.”
Heather launched into a story about her mother’s brother. The family wasn’t very close, but when no one heard from him for about a month, she was elected to go visit and see if he was okay. He was not.
“The cops said he had been dead for a few weeks. It smelled pretty bad in there. I remember the sound it made when they pulled him off the recliner.” The daunting task of cleaning and cleaning out his house was left to Heather and her mother. “She couldn’t handle the smell, you know?” Heather’s eyes were wide, and we watched as a wisp of smoke rose from the tip of her cigarette and went straight into her eye. She didn’t even blink. “It didn’t bother me.”
Heather helped her mother make arrangements. She desperately wanted to see the embalming process, but there are rules about that. So Heather went home, booted up her brother’s computer, and watched instructional videos.
“I really want to do it,” she said. “Mom said I could have some of the money from the sale of his house, and that’s how I’m going to use it. I used my part of the money from the yard sale to sign up for a class.”
“Were y’all able to sell everything?” Reuben asked.
“Mostly. What was left, Mom let us divvy up. I took the recliner.”
They didn’t speak for a while, and then Reuben turned to another classmate and said, “So, you’re getting married…”