EXT. THE OUTSIDE OF A FUNERAL PARLOR. DAY.
A handful of people stand together in a group, facing a set of glass double doors. In the middle of each pane are white block letters that read FUNERAL PARLOR.
A pack of dogs sits quietly to the left of the door. The attendees wonder if the dogs are mine.
Are those dogs hers?
They are not.
They wonder if maybe I worked at an animal shelter.
Did she work at an animal shelter?
I did not.
The people do not move, instead they continue to look at the animals.
INT. FUNERAL PARLOR VIEWING ROOM. DAY.
An open casket sits on a catafalque. On either end of the casket tall, light oak, mid-century modern side tables hold a potted plant. Red poppies.
They are not in season.
The walls of the room have been painted yellow. The smell is fresh. On the floor to the left of the casket, a saturated brush sits on top of a closed paint can. Paint has dripped from the end of the brush and created a puddle on the carpet. It will stain. A piece of paper that reads WET: DO NOT TOUCH is taped to the brush.
A different group of people stand to the right of the casket. Someone opens their mouth as if to say something.
A phone rings–it’s a landline mounted to the wall across from them. It too, is yellow. A man enters wearing a tan corduroy suit and walks across the room. The phone is still ringing. The man picks it up and listens intently before hanging it back on the hook.
The group of people turn to look at him.
They had the wrong number.
EXT. THE OUTSIDE OF THE FUNERAL PARLOR. DAY.
There are at least five more dogs in the pack to the left of the glass double doors than there were previously. A short-haired Oceanic speckle-eared sport hound stands in front.
More would-be attendees have joined the original group of people. They are still unsure of what to do with the animals.
INT. FUNERAL PARLOR VIEWING ROOM. STILL DAY.
Three people stand in front of the coffin. Their arms are crossed, heads tilted down to look at what is inside. There are faint yellow streaks on their suit jackets from accidentally touching the still drying walls.
she did tell me she’d only try new activities once.
Do you think she lived a good life?
Who’s to say.
The man re-enters the room and asks the guests to be seated. There are no chairs.
The man hands a stack of papers to the person closest to him.
Please only take one so there are enough to go around.
A poorly photocopied notebook page is on the paper. The top of the notebook entry reads SUICIDE NOTE. There are 100 copies and less than 10 people in the room, corpse included.
Through the glass double doors, the would-bes can be seen still looking at the dogs. Someone sets the remaining papers on the ground.
This is incredibly private and not meant to be read aloud.
The attendees read the letter to themselves silently. A few minutes pass and the man collects the papers from the group. Two assumed funeral parlor workers enter and roll the casket away.
The group watches as the man sets up a step stool and pulls down a white projection screen. He folds the stool back in half and places it against the wall. The paint is still wet.
The two assumed funeral parlor workers re-enter the room with the catafalque. On top sits a projector. They leave it directly in front of the group. The man plugs the projector into an extension cord, conveniently already on the ground next to the cart. It’s been there the whole time.
An image appears on the screen. Gold words against a black background. AN AMERICAN EMPIRICAL FILM. The title card fades and the image changes. India. A car speeds down a narrow road.
A sob is heard from the group. A person walks out of the building.
(quietly, to no one in particular)
It’s not even one of her top three Wes Anderson movies.
It’s actually number four.
One of the dogs from the pack outside trots past. The group turns to watch it go.
Megan Cassiday is a creative writing student from Michigan. Her work has been featured in CLOVES Literary, Roi Fainéant, Bullshit Lit, Moot Point, and others. You can find her on Twitter @MeganLyn_