by Alyson Faye

Titus’ corpse looks as handsome in death as in life, Amelia thought, as she bent to kiss his cold cheek.

Her eyes filled with tears. She missed her husband’s voice, his touch, his laugh.
Amelia strode to the parlour door, locked it, pulled the heavy drapes closed before extracting a pair of silver stork handled sewing scissors from her velvet drawstring pouch. Bending over her dead husband’s head she snipped a lock of his blonde hair. For her locket, to be worn next to her heart.

“Mama are you there?”

Amelia smoothed her hair and opened the door. Facing her was her youngest child, Ernest. She eyed her exuberant son, then bending she whispered in his ear. Ernest nodded several times before he hop scotched his way across the hall.

The pile of black edged calling cards lay on the table. A reminder of the duties expected of her later that day. The viewing. Amelia shuddered.

Archie appeared from the library room, hair sleek as a seal. He was a man at ease in his surroundings. His smile scratched at her social façade.

“I expect you to be present at the viewing Archie.” She noted with satisfaction her brother in law’s moon face turn ashen.

The black garbed guests came to pay their respects. Finally at dusk only the widow and the brother remained.

“Come nearer Archie. You cannot see him from there.”

Archie crept closer. The gaslights flickered, at their dimmest the corpse jerked upright, lifted his right arm and pointed at Archie. A voice hissed, ‘Murderer.’

Archie’s face became a yawning scream. He huddled in a ball. “Forgive me Titus. I needed money.”

The lights flared up, revealing Ernest, hysterical with laughter, crouched under his father’s corpse, propping it upright.

“Jolly jape Mama.”