Published by Fantastic Stories Of The Imagination
“You again? You don’t understand ‘no,’ is it? Why you keep coming here?” Mrs. Ong growls, fists propped on generous hips, lipsticked mouth a crimson wound. “Also, what you want me to do with those?”
“Put them in a vase?” The man is narrow as a joss stick, with thinning hair and a grave stare. He proffers a bouquet the color of raincoats and warning, tawdry in its phosphorescent vastness. “These are your favorites, aren’t they? Lilies, roses, sun—”
Mrs. Ong bares her teeth. “How you — forget it. Keep them for yourself. My children all got allergies.”
“But—” “But what la! Who you think you are? You think just because you make beautiful my darling’s corpse, you can come here and kau his wife? I told you once. I tell you ten times. Not interested!”
She slams the door before the mortician can reply.
He sighs, a quiet noise of surrender, its potency long eroded by repetition. The man looks up and cocks his head as though in anticipation.
Above, the evening sky is bruise-black, a dead man’s colors. It cracks apart with a hiss and rain descends. The man does not move. It is only when the storm has soaked into his bones that he nods to himself, finally satiated, and walks away, a blot of ink dispersing into the slaughter of rush-hour traffic.
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