She was screaming at the top of her lungs but no one could hear her. Instead they all continued to come to say their own versions of their goodbyes. Miranda was very aware of what was happening. For starters, she had a vague memory of her death. She had been eating a meatball, a mini one that her grandmother had made for her and her cousin. She was sitting across the table from her mother and her cousin who had been wrapped up in a conversation about vampires and werewolves fighting over a girl. Her grandmother had still been in the kitchen working on searing off the rest of the meat so she could eventually add it to her sauce. Miranda had felt the sharp sudden intrusion and momentarily lost her ability to breath. Rather, she felt it was a moment. What it turned out being was her final goodbye.
Now, days later, Miranda was laying on her back in a casket in an outfit she had not designated to be her final resting outfit simply because an open casket wake had not been part of her plans. The parade had started with an unofficial ex-boyfriend, Liam. Miranda looked up at him with almost as much confusion. She watched as he shook his head. His eyes falling all over her, landing respectfully on her throat. Would have never believed you’d’ve choked to death on a meatball. I was pulling into work and one of the waiters thought it was you. Shame. Rest easy, kid. Liam touched the top of her head as he turned around and made his way toward the door.
Miranda was dead, in her late twenties. Who Liam thought he was calling a kid was beyond her. Rest easy, kid. Obviously she had been right to never pursue a relationship. She hated when he called her kid. For starters he was only ten years older than her. Whatever dom/sub fantasies they enjoyed in a bedroom or more accurately on a couch, didn’t mean that she wanted her partner in life to treat her like a daughter. Not to mention he stopped in on his way to work, because he thought it might be someone he knew. Miranda felt the chill of the air as her spirit popped in and out of her skull. It wasn’t as though dead girls could shake their heads.
The funeral director had come back over once Liam had left. He adjusted her hair and finished straightening out the picture boards made by her friends as the front door opened again. A handful of older women scooted in. Her grandmother’s church friends. They were greeted by the funeral director, at that age they were regulars at the parlour. Individually they looked around the room, each making their own mental note of what they liked and what they didn’t. Miranda’s grandmother was a local church celebrity. Part of the reason, Miranda was sure, that her grandmother’s wishes had been chosen over her own.
Miranda waved her spirited hand at them. Who goes to a funeral to support a loved one, but doesn’t pay their respects to the dead girl? Afterall it was Miranda’s funeral, Miranda’s wake – up next was probably Miranda’s burial that was definitely against everything she had specified. The least the old biddies could come and say hello/goodbye while they waited for Miranda’s grandmother to arrive. Miranda took comfort in knowing that her grandmother would be just as upset at the family running late as Miranda was when she realized how she was being sent off into the afterlife.
The old women had taken their seats and begun discussing the songs chosen for the service, who had worn what to mass, and compared the overly upset members of Miranda’s grieving groupies to the impartial ones. They had just finished discussing the outfit choices of Miranda’s mother, grandmother, and boyfriend’s mother – who they had actually mistaken for her boyfriend’s aunt, not that they could hear Miranda’s corrections when Miranda’s uncle, his wife, and her younger cousin, Lyndsey, walked in.
Immediately after Aurora walked in on the arm of her oldest son, Miranda’s other uncle. Behind them came her uncle’s wife, their eldest daughter, her husband, and their two children. Aurora had her son walk her over to her friends. After hugs were distributed and Aurora had fixed her hair, she waved over Miranda’s cousin and the babies. At three and five, they were “babies” of the family. The great grandchildren. Obviously the most important thing in the room. Miranda scoffed to herself as her grandmother’s friends cooed and awed over the little babes.
Miranda watched as her two uncles stood off in the back talking. It seemed as though they both had other things do and were hesitant to commit to the repass. It wasn’t that they hadn’t loved their niece, but most of the people in the room still had to get up and get to work the next day. Their pseudo guilt was relieved as Miranda’s two cousins, both her age, stumbled in with Lyndsey’s boyfriend and Miranda’s youngest cousin behind them. Thankfully Aurora and her friends were still completely absorbed by how fabulous the babies and their mother looked. Three years was obviously a very quick turnaround time for someone to lose their pregnancy weight. Miranda rolled her eyes to herself.
Lyndsey had just finished snapping a selfie with the photo boards as the rest of her family was situating themselves in the back off the room. People Miranda was unfamiliar with began leaning over her, touching her hand, dripping their tears on her. Miranda figured some of them had to be acquaintances, co-workers, or friends of people she actually knew. In life Miranda hadn’t been the most normal pupper in the litter, but she also didn’t go around touching random dead chicks. She certainly didn’t cry on them. She was hoping to see someone she knew soon. With no mobility, hope was really all she could do.
Miranda tasted meatball as she choked on air. If it had been possible, Miranda would have kicked herself for not being more clear. She should have been hoping to see someone she knew and that she liked. Kneeling in front of her now was another ex of sorts. Tall enough that he could still lean forward into her casket, his beard crossing over into her space. Miranda attempted to spit on him. For the first time since it happened being dead truly sucked. A large rock held up by a tiny hand landed on his shoulder. I’m sorry for your loss, the hand squeezed. My brother’s ex-girlfriend. She was like my little sister. Brother’s ex? Little sister. Apparently someone neglected to tell their future Mrs. that he was an abusive manslut. As if it wasn’t bad enough, Miranda watched as her face, printed on a laminated card, was slid into Rich’s back pocket along with the fiance’s hand. Death once again comforted Miranda, if she had been alive she definitely would have yacked all overself.
Caught up in taking advantage of what would probably be her last opportunity to tell Rich to fuck off among a boat load of less appropriate things, Miranda hadn’t yet notice the next person in line. If she had, she might have turned her attention over faster. There, in all black, complete with a mini veil headband and fishnet gloves was Darla. Darla, who she had know like forever. Darla who was absolutely, just her best friend – in the world. Darla, who was weeping without tears and one-hundred percent of the showboating. Clinging to her dear friend Evelyn for support. Miranda almost lost her shit. Silently appreciating her own death for fear that she actually might have shit herself should she have been able to.
Miranda had lost whatever patience she had had. It had lasted a handful of visits, her family’s late and begrudging attendance, her grandmother’s judgemental and rude friends, to Rich and now Darla. Why were any of these people here mourning her, when she barely saw them when she was alive? Was it good PR to go see a dead friend?
Fully disgruntled and no longer playing her part of a sweet dead girl, Miranda sat up in her casket. Looking at Darla’s dry eyes Miranda waved her hand at her spewing her sentiments. After years of friendship Miranda finally suggested to Darla that other than a selfish bitch, she was a closeted lesbian who was faker than all of her “name brand” bags picked up on side streets in the city. Looking further down the line her old co-worker was next up.
Miranda watched as TJ looked down at her face and raised an eyebrow at Darla. At least some got it. Sorry dude, TJ reached into the casket and picked up Miranda’s hand, this is lame. I was expecting a party. TJ slipped something into Miranda’s hand. Better take your free time to train. When I see you again I’m gonna kick your ass. Miranda laughed as TJ walked away. An airplane bottle of tequila and a promise of a sparring match. She should have left TJ in charge of this shit. A disruption in the back of the room caught everyone’s attention. Miranda’s mother had just walked in, held up by Miranda’s boyfriend.
Still regaining her composure, Miranda’s mom was accosted by Aurora for making a scene. Miranda’s boyfriend, Michael, re-assured Aurora and comforted Rayleigh. Aurora gave him a look of thanks and disdain. Still such a bitch, Miranda observed. Rayleigh took his hand and squeezed. Their friends had followed them in and joined the end of the line behind her family. She was at least looking forward to seeing most of them.
Her family came in weird clumpings. Her uncle and his wife stopped in front of her. Her uncle kneeled, muttered a prayer while his wife waited rather impatiently. As her uncle began to shuffle off his wife looked down at Miranda’s face. Giving her a sad smirk, she looked up at the ceiling, swallowed and strode away. Apparently there was a soft spot in her for Miranda all along. Next came Lyndsey and her boyfriend. She was so pretty, and so dumb. Her boyfriend might have been dumber, but since he never spoke to any of them it was hard to tell. Miranda willed Lyndsey to dump him before they accidentally got pregnant. She started to cry until he made fun of her. Then they began a whispered argument. Great goodbye dumb and dumber, Miranda told them to go find a mirror to argue in front of as she waved them away.
Miranda’s other cousins approached her. They all stopped. Two bowed their heads, and the three of them began to make plans to grab a drink. For a second it seemed as though one of them might have caught the smell of her tequila. With all her might Miranda blew her breath of death toward them. For all of her efforts a slight breeze wafted into her cousins’ noises. Slightly off putting the trio moved on. Following up behind them was her cousin and her husband. The babies had been left in the back with their grandparents. She had begun speaking to her husband. She was such an unsupportive, unoriginal, selfish cow. Also, who brings children to a wake and doesn’t introduce them to death? Coddled children make even more coddled children. Her husband was unimportant enough to insult – even if he couldn’t hear her.
Twenty people or so made their way through the line. Miranda’s eyes were trying to bug out of her spirited face. What the fuck were those two doing here and together? Who had told him Miranda was dead. Who had told either of them Miranda was dead? Was there a newsletter? How many ex-es were going to come and kick themselves for not being able to keep her? Or to stare at her tits one last time? The fact that two of them had come with their new significant others caused Miranda a mini-stroke of panic that she ever was involved with them. Her once sober friend showed up plowed, same with her other aunt. She was sure their mutters of blame would permeate the ride back. Four of her co-workers showed up and commented on her physical appearance, the turn out, and barely passable goodbyes. Were they not aware that she was right here? Even if it was only in spirit, her body was still there.
Miranda threw her hands up at the air. Why had they come? What was the purpose? Did no one have anything nice to say? Miranda had realized there weren’t many people that she liked when she was alive, but she had thought that was more because of her and less because of the people she knew. At least in death Miranda could get a few years of laughter over the fake, the phoney, and the full of it who called themselves her friends. Miranda peaked a few more people down the line. A bookstore owner, a few friends from the convention circuits, her most recent boss, and her friends. At least things would pick up from here.
Finally, a group of people she wanted to see. Miranda beamed as her friends lined up to see her. Fabian said a goodbye in Italian and left her a folded drawing in her hand. He laughed as he snuck the airplane bottle back under, hidden. Stephanie followed behind taking care in adjusting her hair. Leaning forward she took out Miranda’s favorite lip gloss and applied it. She also left the bottle in the casket with her, sliding it gently into her pocket. Pierce followed. He knelt, mumbled a few words and placed a book in between Miranda’s body and her arm. She looked at all of them. Miranda felt a pull, the one that happened to her in life when she was touched by something. They all stopped and looked back, almost as if they had heard her. Next in line was Michael. The glue that introduced her to her friends, and the one that held her life together.
Miranda had been waiting for this moment. The rules given to her were simple: she had to return after it ended, she couldn’t leave the parlour, and she could leave an impression on one person only. As much as she wanted to smack her exes and fucking Darla, or hug her friends and her mother, Miranda had been waiting for Michael to leave her one impression on. As knelt in front of her, wincing as his knees touched the bar. Miranda leaned forward, waiting as he composed himself. His words, while kept to himself, were beautiful. He looked down at her face, her body laying their motionlessly. He closed his eyes, opening them up looking straight where Miranda’s face watched him. He couldn’t see her, but Michael knew she was near. He could feel her. Sense her. He shook his head. He sounded just as nuts as she would when she went on about bad juju and haunted towns. He had to move. He would say a goodbye now, but he would always carry her with him. It was now or he would break down. He couldn’t break down. Before he stood he reached into her casket and slid a ring onto her left hand ring finger. It had a white gold and a bright blue stone – a stone that Miranda said matched his eyes. He leaned back onto his feet and went to get up. A cold air wrapped around him smelling of mild cheese and essential oils. He felt a warmth touch his forehead and spread through his body. In a far off whisper coming from the inside of his mind he heard them. Voices cheering, a dog barking, and Miranda, her voice muffled and raspy, Of course! I love you!