Sunshine. It is not the expected weather for a funeral. The average person expects rain, as if the sky should weep with the mourners. Nevertheless, the sun shone brightly, its rays glinted off the silver handles and sleek, polished, wood of the casket. The parson and the groundskeeper stood under the shade of the closest tree, complaining over the price of gas in hushed tones. Almost a block from the cemetery gate stood a young man. He squinted in the sunlight, before slapping a greasy ballcap on his head. In front of him was table, full of flowers with most of them only slightly wilted. A small cardboard sign read: “Flowers $5” and an open cigar box already had a few bills in it, weighted down by a rock. He was short, with a thick coat of stubble on his face, which was mostly shadowed by his hat, but his vibrant green eyes stood out. He wore a jean jacket, half way zipped and a tee-shirt with the Union Jack on the front. His pants had a few holes, and the pant-legs were muddy around his worn shoes. He watched several cars drive past towards the cemetery, they were the family of whoever was getting buried, and they would have brought their own flowers.
He took his hat off to wipe his brow from the heat, and ran a hand through his dirty blond hair, pulling it out of his face as he plopped his hat over it again. The others would start to arrive soon, and the ones that didn’t have time, forgot or were too cheap to buy fresh flowers would stop at his table –they always did.
The first car was a blue sedan; the driver was a middle aged man with a hooked nose and beady eyes. He reached across the car to manually roll down the window. “Hey, kid,” he gruffly called out.
“Yeah?” the boy responded, not moving from where he stood.
“Give me those yellow ones.” The man snapped, clearly in a hurry.
“They’re daylilies.” The boy said as she carried the bouquet the to the car window. The man was waving a five dollar bill.
The boy took the money and laid the flowers in the passenger seat, “Have a nice day.” He added with something of the smile, but the man just drove off without so much as a nod.
“Grouch.” The boy muttered, “No one would go to his funeral.”
He tucked the bill into the cigar box and moved behind the table again; in the distance he could already hear the sound of another engine.
It was an old, maroon station wagon with wood paneling. He knew instantly who it was: The Carsons. He knew they weren’t here for the funeral. They were a middle aged couple who had lost their only child in complications around a car accident a few years back. He didn’t know many of the details, because he hated to see them upset, but he knew enough. The boy liked them because they always brought fresh flowers from their own garden, but occasionally would give him a few dollars anyway. Mrs. Carson said his smile reminded her of their son and then with a slight sniffle they would wave and drive off, but would be back the following Friday exactly at one in the afternoon. This time, they simply waved and rumbled by, but the boy caught sight of the blue hydrangeas in Mrs. Carson’s arms.
He sniffed the flowers on his table, a few them were wilting because of the sun, but they still looked nice, and he always thought wilted flowers seemed fitting for the somber occasion of a funeral.
And so it continued – a few more people stopped to buy the flowers, but many simply drove by. Some days were like that. As the day wore on precious few dollars were in the cigar box. The boy sighed a little, dinner would be light.
He glanced up at the sun; it was nearly two o’clock by then. He knew the funeral would be almost over. He tucked the money he had in his back pocket and began to trudge towards the entrance to the cemetery. On his way he waved to the Carson’s as they pulled out. The car stopped and Mr. Carson held out a five dollar bill, “Have a good afternoon,” he said with a smile and a nod.
The boy grinned and took the bill, “Same to you, both!” He waved again as the car pulled off before resuming his walk. The funeral was near the middle of the cemetery, so the boy stayed near the entrance to keep his distance, a little self conscience of his clothes.
He surveyed the grounds, it had been the only ceremony all day, but that was alright. He knew there was one more just before sunset.
The funeral ended rather uneventfully and the somber line of people soon left, leaving only the boy and the groundskeeper who began to refill the dirt on the grave.
The boy made his way over, “Heya,” he called out.
The groundskeeper looked up from his work, “Oh hey. How’d ya do?”
“Alright.” The boy said with a shrug as he fished out the wad of money, “One more tonight right?” he asked as he proffered some of the cash to the man working the shovel.
“Yup,” he replied, “You still got those jars with candles? Those will sell good too.” He advised the boy.
The boy smiled a little, “Yeah, I bet.”
The boy then began to collect all the flowers that had been laid against the tombstone at the head of the grave. “A lot of fresh ones.” He said, sounding pleased.
The grounds keeper nodded, “Yeah.” But that was all.
The afternoon rolled on and so did the second line of cars for the day. The boy stood behind his table, this time there were more flowers, and in the middle – a large bouquet of blue hydrangeas.