Seven Basic Plots

Entry by: Scooter

28th January 2016
Seven Basic Plots

In a daze, Mike walked into the pristine room and gazed around him. A watery film blurred his vision. He had been crying on and off in waves since leaving the hospital.

Blinking the tears away, he looked around. The tasteful artwork on the walls and plush furnishings took him by surprise.

An immaculately dressed, middle aged woman approached him but instead of a welcoming smile she wore an expression of practiced concern. Although the situation afforded such a somber disposition, to be greeted this way by a stranger filled Mike with unease.

"My name is Anne,” she said gently. “Why don't you make yourself comfortable." She gestured to the settee in the centre of the room.
Mike forced his legs to follow his eyes. He sat down stiffly on the black leather couch and looked at the mahogany coffee table before him. His gaze fell upon the tissue box of delicate gold filigree. He had never seen something as benign as tissues presented with such elegance. He reached for one and cleared his vision.

Anne sank into the armchair opposite, opened a black notebook and sat poised with a silver pen. "I'm so sorry you have found yourself here today Mr...?"
"Alberson. Mike..." He said breaking off at the sound of his croaky and unfamiliar voice.

The woman gave a soft, sympathetic smile and wrote a note in her book. Mike had the impression of being in a therapist’s office.

"My condolences Mr Alberson, I know this is very difficult for you. We will do everything we can to make sure that your beloved...?"
"...mother." Mike finished with the same foreign voice.

"Mother, is honoured with a ceremony befitting her and celebrating her life."

Mike nodded as the tears welled up again. He reached for another tissue and blew his now running nose. A silence filled the room. Anne seemed to waiting for him to say something, but Mike could not find any words. Even the intruder in his throat had vanished.

She gestured towards the bound albums on the coffee table next to the tissues. "Why don't you take a look through the folders and choose something suiting the dignity your mother deserves. We have many excellent packages and after you decide a few simple things, we can organise it all for you Mr Alberson. The last thing you need at a time like this is to be worrying about the details."

Mike nodded again and reached for an album. Page after page of wooden boxes. Different shades, different linings, different handles, but just boxes. How could he choose A BOX for his mother?

Anne seemed to sense his hesitation. "Remember, this is the last thing you can do for your loved one Mike. May I call you Mike?"

He nodded slightly and she continued, "I know you want the best for her.” She moved across to sit beside him on the sofa and turned the page.
“This is my favourite. The lining is Italian satin made from the finest silk. Shouldn't her final resting place reflect the love you have for the woman who gave you life?"

Of course it should, he thought. So how can I put my mother, the woman who gave me life, into some box, like a pair of shoes? It doesn’t matter how you dress it up. A box is a box, and none will ever be good enough.

Mike flicked helplessly through the pages and finally pointed to the last.

Anne frowned slightly before returning to her default empathy.
"Mike, I know you love your mother very much... and given that this will be her final resting place, are you sure you that the Basic Plot Package is the right choice?" She turned back to another page. "Perhaps this is more fitting for someone as precious as her?"

Anne's words suddenly penetrated the fog of Mike’s grief. His tears dried up and he found bile rising in his throat at this surreal mockery of grief. Who was this woman feigning sorrow while mercilessly scheming to line her pockets? Suddenly filled with rage he rose to his feet and threw the album across the room. As Anne's consoling eyes grew wide, Mike exploded.

"You disgust me! I mean what kind of person are you? Other than one hell of an almost had me believing you cared!"

Anne opened her mouth to speak but Mike kept shouting.

"You look at me and pretend to give a shit about my pain, and then act as though I don't love my mother when I don't choose a golden coffin! You don't give a fuck about me or Mum! You neither know nor care what a beautiful, kind woman she was. You just want her death to pay for your life! You're a parasite who feeds on human misery! Well my mother and I won't be your next fucking meal!"

Mike stormed to the door and swung it open with such force that the handle hit the wall and left an imprint in the plaster.

As he ran out into the street he heard Anne calling after him, "I offered her respect and dignity! You can bury her in the backyard in a cardboard box like a pet if you'd rather Mr Alberson!"

Somehow she didn't sound so sympathetic and warm anymore.

"So how was your day darling?" Leo asked his wife as he served dinner. She had been unusually quiet since she had gotten home from work and that never meant anything good for him.

She clutched the fork with white knuckles. "Bloody crappy if you must know. Actually it's been a real shit of a week. I've only sold seven basic plots. Can you believe that? It would have been eight if today’s customer hadn’t gone berserk and stormed out. What’s the matter with people?" Anne pushed the wilted spinach around her plate.

Leo feigned a practiced expression of concern.