18-year-old Noah Edwards is a professional mourner. He has lost his parents a long time back. Noah attends 18-year-old Abigail Lewis’s funeral along with his colleagues. Abigail is a sick, young girl who has succumbed to an unusual type of tuberculosis. At the end of the funeral, Abigail’s mother, Imogene Lewis, asks Noah to stay back. She offers him a job for a large sum of money. The job entails Noah dressing up like the deceased Abigail by wearing her clothes, donning a blonde wig and blue contact lenses.

Abigail Resurrected

Subtitle: A Professional Mourner

By Yulia Yu. Sakurazawa

Chapter 1 – The Offbeat Career

I walked into the dingy, dark office. A man in his 50s, with a scraggly beard and a pair of rimless glasses, asked me to take a seat. His name was Leo Harris and he headed a group of professional mourners known as “Forget-Me-Not”.

Leo went through my resume for a few minutes and said: “From what I perceive, you haven’t had an easy life. Welcome to my little group of professional mourners. Going by your pale, little face, I don’t think you’d have much trouble squeezing out a tear or two”.

I nodded in a dignified manner. There was some truth in Harris’s words. My life was hard. This was a reality, which no amount of time would change.

My name was Noah Edwards and I was no prince. I had grown up in extreme poverty, with a wastrel of a father and an alcoholic mother. My parents lived on social security and managed to send me to a community school. There was never enough to eat and countless times we went to bed with no electricity in the house. I got sick of starving and shivering in the cold and started doing odd jobs like mowing the garden, raking leaves and helping the neighbors to clean out their garage. This helped us afford a few things besides bread. The family could now buy corned beef and potatoes, and a few cheap fruits like apples or oranges.

My parents died in a freak accident when I was 12. I sustained myself by working in a nursery. The state wouldn’t give a council house to a minor, hence I was homeless. I slept on park benches and in tube stations in the nights.

Belonging to a group of professional mourners was a unique experience. My friends and I would go from funeral to funeral, pretending to be one of the guests. My pals and I would think of the saddest movie we’d seen and weep copiously. I personally used The Schindler’s List to cry, but the girls used The Notebook or Fault in our Stars.

Before attending any funeral, we did a thorough research on the deceased person, so that no one would become suspicious of us. It required much effort and some amount of method acting. In the few months I had worked as a professional mourner, I had attended the funerals of all types of people: the gentleman who had lived up to be a hundred, a woman who had traveled the world and a child who had died in his infancy.

One nippy winter morning, Harris called me and my friends over to his office. “Funeral at 10 am” he said tersely “a group of young professional mourners required”.

“Who’s the victim?” asked Heidi White, a tall, hefty girl in the group.

“18-year-old Abigail “Abby” Lewis” said Harris.

“She was the only child of single parent, Imogene Lewis. Abigail had always been a sick child and had suffered from myriad health problems like a weak heart, inability to put on weight etc. A few months back, she was diagnosed with tuberculosis…it was pretty advanced when detected, she passed away. Dying of tuberculosis is extremely unusual in this day and age, but it happened in Abby’s case”.

“Why is Imogene Lewis hiring professional mourners?” I asked. “Abby had many friends surely?”

“She didn’t” replied Harris grimly. “Owing to her health problems, Abby had to be homeschooled. Imogene taught Abby herself as the mother and the daughter shared a very close bond. Abby was reclusive; she didn’t emerge out of her room when relatives and family friends visited. She barely left the house. Now that Abby is dead, Imogene is devastated, as you can imagine. What saddens Imogene the most is that Abby doesn’t have friends of her own age mourning for her. Hence, she contacted me and asked me to send a few young mourners over to their house in Surrey”.

“I’m glad we are going to Surrey” said Heidi “it would be good to be out in the countryside, out of the hustle and bustle of London”.

“Please remember that this is not an outing” warned Harris “a young life has been snuffed out cruelly by fate. It is a sad situation. Mourn as if you were close friends of the deceased girl. In case anyone asks, tell them that you met Abby online and visited her at home. Tell them that Abby was kindly, benign, sweet…general stuff like that. And the dress code is strictly to be followed: black gowns for the girls and black suits for the guys.

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