The scene re-opens in an arrangement room furnished with a desk, chair, small sofa, a vase of flowers, Dixie cups and a water pitcher. Framed art of calm, natural settings dot the walls. This is Simona's first arrangement of the day -- meeting with the Malinda Sher -- Genevieve's needy, nervous daughter. There's a big desk in the arrangement room where most of the funeral directors sit when they meet with families, but Simona prefers to sit side-by-side with people on a small sofa. Less formal.
MALINDA (Tense.) So, um, did you get that list of florists together? The one we talked about last night?
SIMONA (Gently.) Yes, Mrs. Sher, I did, but…
MALINDA (Interrupts.) Ok, good…
SIMONA I have a list right here, but let’s talk about the kind of service you want to have first. Then it will be easier to select the flowers.
SIMONA (Shifts in her seat, shrugging, trying to get the conversation started.) So, did you and your mother ever talk about her wishes?
MALINDA (Snaps.) Her wishes?
SIMONA Yes. Did the two of you ever talk about burial or cremation.
MALINDA (Emphatic.) Oh, she definitely wants to be buried. She didn’t believe in cremation. (Cringing.) It sounds just awful. Being burned. Doesn’t it?
SIMONA (Ignores question.) Well… Have you chosen a cemetery to do the burial?
MALINDA Yes. Holy Memories. That's where my father is buried. There's a plot for her there, too, right on top of him.
(There’s a knock at the arrangement room door. Jill pops her head in.)
JILL (Sweet voice.) Excuse me, Simona. Um… so sorry to interrupt. (Self-conscious laugh.) May I speak to you for a moment… Just one second?
SIMONA Um, sure. Melinda, will you excuse me?
MALINDA (Odd expression of confusion.) Oh. Ok.
(Simona leaves the arrangement room to speak with Jill.)
SIMONA (Quietly.) What’s up?
JILL (Stern, annoyed, presses brochures into Simona’s hands) You left these in back. I thought you might need them for your funeral arrangement.
SIMONA Oh, yeah. Thanks. (Fake enthusiasm.) Gotta love these keys to compassionate service!
JILL (Stern, frustrated with Simona) Simona, you have got to start providing your families with more options for personalization... and, and, and... meaningful remembrance! It's good for families. And it's good for you!
SIMONA Mmmhmmm. Yes. You’re right. (Polite.) Um, can I get back to my arrangement now?
JILL Yeah. Go ahead.
(Simona reenters the arrangement room.)
SIMONA I'm so sorry, Malinda. That was Jill Jones, the owner. She just needed me to look at something real quick. (Sits.)
MALINDA (Looks at brochures skeptically.) Oh. Ok.
(Simona opens the desk drawer and drops the brochures in with a thud. )
SIMONA I’m sorry, where were we?
MALINDA We were talking about the cemetery.
SIMONA Right. I’ll be in touch with Holy Memories and I’ll coordinate the burial date and time with them. You will also need to make an appointment with them, ok? They’ll have some forms for you to sign and depending on the arrangements your mother made, and there may be some fees.
MALINDA Oh. Ok. I will call today. I have the papers at home.
SIMONA (Pausing, thoughtful.) So, have you thought about the kind of service you'd like to have for your mother?
MALINDA Well, yes. I have. I’d like to bring Mother home and have two days of visitation there, then bring her back here for the funeral. (Pause.) My mother loved her home so much. (Fights tears.) I think she’d like to be there one last time.
SIMONA (Searches for words.) Oh, that is so nice, Malinda. Home is so important, and that is such a beautiful tribute. I love that idea… but we generally don’t recommend taking the deceased home. Not in this situation, anyway…
MALINDA (Demanding) Why not?!
SIMONA Well, it's logistics, really. And safety, for your mom. Most homes aren't made to accommodate a casket. The door openings on many homes, the corners, stairs… they just aren't made wide enough for a rolling device and a casket. And here... Not sure how to say it... we take special care to protect your mom from... anything that could harm her...
MALINDA (Covers mouth, slightly horrified.) What could harm her?
SIMONA (Back-peddles, seeing she struck a nerve.) Oh, I don't know... I mean, you could have more people show up than you expect and someone could bump the casket... I've heard of that happening... And, um, well... here the rooms have special lighting... you know, to make your mom look... as becoming as she can…
(Malinda bursts into tears.)
MALINDA Oh my god… Please stop!
SIMONA (Mortified that she has made Malinda cry.) I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm just trying to...
MALINDA I told everyone I was bringing her home.
SIMONA Oh... Well, if it's really what you want to do, maybe we can...
MALINDA But I had no idea... of all the things you're telling me. (Sniffs) This is so hard. (Gasps, long pause, gathers herself.)
SIMONA I'm so sorry. And I am sorry if I am making this harder for you. I just... it's my job to do what's best for your mom. And for you.
MALINDA Thank you for trying. (Despondent.) I keep feeling... like I'm dreaming, I mean... she can't possibly be gone, right? She said she would always be there... We were so close. She was my best friend. (Pause) My only friend...
(Simona stands and serves Malinda a glass of water. Malinda takes it and sips loudly. )
SIMONA I’m so sorry.
MALINDA (Sniffs, dazed.) What would she say right now?
SIMONA I know. I mean, I don’t know, exactly... But... maybe she would say... It’s gonna to be ok.
MALINDA Is it? (Long pause.)
SIMONA Um... Do you want to take a little break? Get some fresh air? We have a little garden…
(Malinda blows her nose loudly.)
MALINDA No, no. Let's keep going. Thank you. I guess I have to choose a coffin, right?