Julie-Anne didn’t feel like talking. She especially didn’t feel like talking to the cheery young assistant, Ms. Gates, who smiled at her with unnaturally white teeth and cherry red lips. But Julie-Anne acquiesced when Ms. Gates motioned for her to be seated while opening her mother’s file and spreading the papers across the desk between them.
“Yes, here it is. You mother, Mrs. Harold Hastings, preselected our most popular urn—Poppies. Let me show you.”
Ms. Gates rose from the desk and, with mincing steps, inched her way across the office floor. Julie-Anne smoothed her black pants, sat up straight, nested her hands in her lap as she had been taught, and watched Ms. Gates progress across the room like a hobbled calf in her narrow skirt.
“What was Mother thinking?” Julie-Anne said to herself.
At the long shelf of urns, Ms. Gates selected a large porcelain orb circled with bright, red-orange poppies supported by dark green, feathery stems against a glossy white background. Instinct compelled Julie-Anne to bring her hand to her face, shielding her widening eyes and mouth from Ms. Gates’s approving grin.
“How could Mother!”
“Did you say something?”
Julie-Anne coughed and said what her mother had trained her to say in such a situation, “It’s beautiful, really much too beautiful for my mother’s remains.”
Ms. Gates set the urn down in front of Julie-Anne and settled herself behind the desk with a triumphant smile. Looking into that smile, Julie-Anne understood the cunning behind her mother’s motives, understood the full impact of the cheap urn and the garish Ms. Gates. Julie-Anne closed her eyes and saw her mother laughing.
When the paper signing was complete, Ms. Gates handed Julie-Anne the urn filled with her mother’s remains and ushered her out the door. Julie-Anne wobbled in confusion at the abrupt ending, but their business was done. Julie-Anne hugged the urn close across the parking lot until she caught her heel on the curb. In a rain of her mother’s ashes, Julie-Anne fell laughing.
The word: cheap adj \ˈchēp\
The definition: 3 a : of inferior quality or worth : tawdry, sleazy <cheapworkmanship> b : contemptible because of lack of any fine, lofty, or redeeming qualities <feeling cheap>
- Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
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