She takes her driver’s test in a hearse. Her mortician father figures if she can parallel park a Heritage coach, he can trust her on the streets. The examiner sits next to her, quiet, respectful like a funeral director. But unlike a funeral director, nervous and weirded-out. Nervous like her boyfriend Rob when the two of them carried chairs for a picnic from the Magnolia Viewing Room to Aunt Margo’s house across the street. Weirded-out like Rob when she told him Mr. Mueller, the body in the casket in the Magnolia Viewing Room, wouldn’t mind.
She maneuvers through traffic. She takes wide right turns and remembers to use the blinker. Lots of side mirror glances, just like her father taught her. The silence is deathly. She remembers the pamphlet in the informational display in the main parlor: What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say. She says Ebay has a wide selection of used hearses for sale. Vanity plates with LCKYSTIF or 2DIE4. Something bumps in the curtained back. She jokes she was sure her father took Mrs. Dempsey inside. Based on the examiner’s facial expression, she decides those are not the things to say when you don’t know what to say.
So she says nothing as she pulls parallel to a red cone and shifts into reverse. She says nothing as she turns the wheel full lock and aligns the inside rear tire with the street-side edge of the cone, as she centers the Heritage coach and shifts into park. The examiner scribbles a line at the bottom of the evaluation form. You passed, he says. Later, she parallels Mrs. Dempsey in the Magnolia Viewing Room, centered perfectly between sprays of red roses, just like her father taught her.
Sandy Coomer is a poet, mixed media artist and endurance athlete. Her work most recently appeared in Red River Review, Big Muddy, Main Street Rag, and Hypertrophic Literary Magazine, among others. She is the author of two poetry collections, “Continuum”, a poetry chapbook, and “The Presence of Absence”, winner of the 2014 Janice Keck Literary Award for Poetry. She lives in Brentwood, TN.