I felt embarrassed to be at my own funeral. Time travel created these sorts of faux pas. I had trimmed my beard earlier in the day, from my reference point, or many years in the past. But I still felt out of place.
The mortician, his three strands of hair plastered to his scalp, gazed at the body in the open casket, shaking his head. “I can’t get the bones to stay in,” he kept saying by way of apology to everyone gathered. Most people ignored him, pushing forward to flamingo pink chairs. No one wanted to stand the whole time. If the awkward flapping of the carrion birds wasn’t enough, there were low parlor ceilings to contend with.
So they all huddled in, crouching if they could not find a seat. A man was forced to remove his ten gallon hat and a woman to undo her beehive hairdo. I noticed a crunching under my feet, as if someone had dropped pretzels everywhere, but the lighting was too dim to see. I regretted attending; time travel wasn’t cheap. Deliberately I crushed something under my heel. “Chicken bones,” said the homely lady in furs next to me with a wince.
“No, no. Bones of the deceased, I’m afraid,” the mortician said. “Just so many and so small, I couldn’t keep them all in the cada—the body. I’ll give everyone five dollars back at the door as you exit. I’m just so sorry.” But none of the guests seemed to care. I hunched over, grabbing for a bone. The one I snatched did look like a chicken bone with some dried up meat left on, though it was distinctly greenish.
“Our bones are green on the inside,” said a rugged gentleman in front of me. He handed me his business card, reading: In the Business of Crying. It listed twelve different email addresses. “Are you the deceased’s grandson?”
I’ll be forty-three years older when I pass. The attendants assumed I was a relative, but no one seemed to realize I had time traveled from the past, despite my name tag giving my true and full name. I did not answer, so he simply nodded with a sad smile, adding: “Glad we could both be inside him here, with the bones.”
I was very upset with the whole affair, and I hadn’t yet been to pay my own respects to myself. “I’ll travel back and get myself a better funeral,” I fumed.
The woman in furs turned to me and said, “Don’t waste your time. It won’t work.” Then I noticed the woman was actually me, a few years older, in disguise. It was not the look I was meant to sport.
“Instead, I shall simply die right now to save myself the embarrassment.” So I marched up front, pulled the future me from the casket and lay down in it. Everyone clapped as I forced myself to die there. Some of them were me, so they knew how much it meant to us.
Copyright 2010 G. Arthur Brown