Laurel and Hodges Funeral Home
It was a truth universally acknowledged, that breaking and entering wasn’t a crime if you didn’t break anything. At least, that was the excuse Alice gave herself as she jammed a hairpin into the lock on the basement door. Ben tried to define his contribution to the effort as “keeping watch,” but Alice was having none of it.
“You’re a non-corporeal being who doesn’t exist outside of my body except for in graveyards. You can’t keep watch.”
Creaking wooden stairs gave way to freshly scrubbed tile that did nothing to mask the sharp chemical smell of embalming fluid. Here, among the many coffins and urns there was no doubt that Barbara Jean Jeffries was dead.
For Alice there was nothing fancy or mystical about raising the dead. She just called them and waited—sort of like dialing a phone.
“What in the devil? I haven’t even started my rest! Whoever it is snatched hold of my spirit better explain themselves!”
“Uh…hi…it’s me,” Alice waved, awkwardly.
Barbara pantomimed a scythe.
“Oh no!” Alice jolted. “That’s uh Ben’s—er, my employee. I’m Alice.”
“Mmhmm,” Barbara Jean narrowed her eyes. “Then who, pray tell, is that gentleman behind you?”
“Ben. The God of—”
“I don’t need all the pomp and circumstance,” she scolded. “Also, you’re not the God of Death. She is,” Barbara added, cocking her head in Alice’s direction.
“Yeah, kind of…for now,” Alice took a steadying breath, “And as The God of Death I was wondering if I could trouble you for your banana bread recipe?”
“My what? You woke me up from eternal rest for that? What ails you child?”
Alice flushed and then cringed. “Well, I mean I figured you weren’t using it so…”
The argument sounded pathetic even to her own ears.
Barbara Jean sighed and motioned for Alice to help her out of the coffin.
“You know, I didn’t teach my kids a damn thing about that recipe, kept thinking I had more time to pass it on when they would truly understand. Now, it’s too late. I’m dead and all that waiting ain’t mattered a lick.”
“That’s not true,” Alice assured her, thinking of her own mother. “Maybe they didn’t always show it, but I’m sure they appreciated you.”
“Please, child. The worst thing your own flesh and blood can discover is that their parents are but mere mortals—regular sims making it up as they go along.”
Barbara looked down at her outfit and laughed. “All dressed up and nowhere to go. Death comes to wake me up over some damn banana bread.”
Alice dipped her head. What she wanted from Barbara Jean was selfish. This woman thought she died having no impact on her family when here, the whole sainted lot of them was sitting in a vestibule prepared to wait anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours to bid her adieu.
“Ms. Jeffries, why don’t you come with me? I think…I think there’s something you should see.”