The Beginning

Edithe Zilonis

I had finished preparing a lovely young woman who died after being struck by a carriage just outside on Main Street. The ordeal had been surprisingly not gruesome, given her tight corset and big skirts which had protected her soft flesh from the sharp, front corner of the carriage.

She had, however, been hit head first, knocked unconscious and then ran over by the rear wheels.

The driver had been upset, had said that the young woman dashed into the road as if she desired to be hit. But no one knew if she desired to die.

I think the driver had gone slightly out of his way.

Regardless, I was not the police, who arrived at the scene some twenty minutes later. And I had not witnessed the event. I was actually coming back from lunch when I saw the police folk outside my shop.

But I had not necessarily a shop. I was an undertaker. I suppose my shop could be a shop, just for the preparation of the dead and payment thereafter.

Perhaps I rather dealt the dead.

This young woman was twenty-nine. Her name was Edithe Zilonis, and she had no known relatives.

Police believed she was from out of town but had searched the local cities for anyone of the same surname. They found absolutely no one. She hadn't any personal belongings other than a small purse with her name stitched within it, and some coins and a bottle of perfume. It was in the safe and I would set it into her hands when the time for her funeral came.

But I did not know if this dear Edithe Zilonis would even have a funeral. The carriage driver had come back twice to check on her. Perhaps he would ask for a funeral for her, but that meant he would also have to pay. And the man seemed kind but not too kind.

It was unfortunate for everyone, because I just cleaned up a corpse and would not be getting paid. I assumed.

So to soothe my lamenting, I spoke softly to Edithe Zilonis.

When I first met her I said to her, "Hello Miss Zilonis. I'm your undertaker. I hope your stay will be pleasant for you. You are very beautiful, and that is a shame."

And Edithe Zilonis was very beautiful. She had fair skin and blonde hair. Her eyes were brown had they not been bloodshot, and she had a small frame. She had not had any children, from what I could tell, and very little stress either. Her skin was soft and her dainty little face had no wrinkles or blemishes. It made my heart sink.

Poor girl, I thought, You could have had anyone at your feet, and now you're dead.

I was curious. I was very curious most of the time. I revelled in the stories of my clients. I loved hearing what families had to say about their sweet Leola, or handsome Damon. How Tessy was such an affectionate grandmother, and how Alford had been taken from us much too young, Gods bless him.

I loved these stories because most of them were just stories.

I allowed the families and friends and lovers to relish in their pleasantries, but I knew the truth. I knew the dead far more intimately than the living.