Normally, I don't mind a little alone time. In fact, I like it in small but regular doses. But the reality of staying in a large house with only a dead body for company began to chill me to the bone. I found myself checking my roommate's schedule to see when she would be traveling. I also found myself checking the newspaper to see who had died and where they would be laid out. I made a point never to be home when there was a body in the parlor and an absent roommate. Fortunately, I had some friends in Lexington who had an available couch, which I used quite frequently. My roommate, on the other hand, was completely unfazed by our living arrangement and I admired her for that.
There are some definite limitations to living in a funeral parlor that are not so obvious. The funeral director conveyed this to me a couple of days after I had cooked spaghetti sauce for a friend. I had not thought to shut the doors to the kitchen and apparently the oregano and garlic smell wafted down and disturbed the mourning in progress. I was politely asked not to cook such odorific foods after that.
This was emphasized another time when we were requested to shut our bedroom doors before leaving for work. A well known state trooper had passed away, the funeral director explained, and they were expecting a large crowd. So large, in fact, they would need to seat people in front of our bedrooms.
I began to feel that funeral home life was not for me.
The time inevitably came when there was a body in the parlor and my roommate left unexpectedly. With no time for alternative plans, I tried to be brave and fall asleep, but I kept hearing unfamiliar noises. I would sit up in bed and listen as hard as I could. I was sure that dead body was downstairs walking around.
Compelled to face my foe head on, I crept out of bed and down the stairs, on full alert. At this point, it was difficult to hear anything other than my heart beating like a bass drum. As I stepped onto the hardwood floor, a loud creak sounded, which sent shock waves up my spine. Subconsciously, I must have known it was my own weight that made the floor creak.
But that was it - I turned and ran up the steps, packed up my stuff and left in the middle of the night. I decided right then I would find other living arrangements, even if it meant moving back home. After all, at home my parents would want to know where I was going and when I would be back, but at least I wouldn't have to share my living space with the dead. Sometimes the price of freedom is just too high.
Angela Correll lives in Lincoln County.