This is how we prepare my father’s body. First we close his eyes, then his mouth – which is not so easy with the dead. We take a wash cloth and clean his face. We smooth down his hair. We fold his hands together because it is easier to imagine he is at peace, if it seems he is at prayer. We make sure to put on his favorite shirt and the tie that has birds in flight and a big orange sun. We tell my mother she can come in. We tell her this was how he looked when he died. We still do not call the doctors. The last hands that touch a body should not be the hands of a stranger. Later, we will tell everyone he looks exactly like himself, which is a lie. But it is easier to believe something if it is spoken out loud many times.
Emily Webber is currently living and writing in South Florida surrounded by swamps and alligators. She lives with her husband Sam and their cat Fred. She is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University and has been a contributor at the Tin House Summer Writer’s Workshop. Her short story “Macerated” was published in the November ’14 issue of The Writer magazine. She has a chapbook of her flash fiction forthcoming from Paper Nautilus in 2016. Read more about her at: https://emilyannwebber.wordpress.com/
Cover Photo: AK Rockefeller (https://www.flickr.com/photos/akrockefeller/)