• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 09
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Memento Mori

Arnold Winton – Fifty years old, mortician.
Beatrice Jones – Mother of Isa (deceased)

A mortician’s parlour.

BEATRICE: I don’t like it.

ARNOLD: The stance you mean? I can adjust her, if you like?

BEATRICE: Not, all of it. I don’t like any of this.

[She indicates the whole room]

ARNOLD: I see.

BEATRICE: Tell me again. What was it she wanted?

ARNOLD: Right, let me see, she left instructions.

BEATRICE: Instructions?

ARNOLD: Yes, she wrote it all down, what she wanted. Just a minute, I have them somewhere.

[Rummages about on a desk trying to find the papers]

BEATRICE: Wait, please, can you do something about her eyes?

ARNOLD: Her eyes? Oh, the glass. You don’t like it?


ARNOLD: Ah, right, yes … perhaps I need to explain.

BEATRICE (sobs gently): No, don’t. I’d rather not.


Memento Mori

ARNOLD: I can imagine.


Here, sit down. Let me get you a drink. Some tea perhaps?

BEATRICE: Yes, thank you, that would be lovely.

ARNOLD: It’s not something I imagined would take off here, if I’m honest. So American, don’t you think?


ARNOLD: No, I mean … you know [points to Isa] this...

BEATRICE (mumbles): Uh-huh.

ARNOLD: Right, well, I’ll just get you that tea.

[Arnold leaves the room. Beatrice sits in her chair and stares at her daughter.]

BEATRICE: I suppose you think this is funny? Quirky, is that it? Is that what I should be thinking?


Oh, but why would want anyone to see you this way, Isa? I don’t understand it. I really don’t.

[Arnold comes back with the tea]

ARNOLD: What’s that? What don’t you understand?

[He gives Beatrice her cup of tea]

BEATRICE: Thank you.

[She takes a sip]


Memento Mori

I was talking to her. To Isa.

ARNOLD: Ah, yes, we’ve been getting that lately. Conversations. When they look so lifelike, well...

BEATRICE: She wasn’t like this, you know?


BEATRICE: No. Quiet she was. Intelligent. Now she looks like … well, I don’t mean to be rude, but she looks like some magician’s assistant, sitting there like that. Holding that ...

[Leans in and peers closely]

What is that actually?

(Arnold picks up Isa’s instructions and reads)

ARNOLD: Aunt Ada’s hat. She said you’d understand.

[Beatrice stares at the hat, leans even closer. Laughs.]

BEATRICE: Why, so it is!

[She sits back, drinks her tea, contemplates her daughter. Turns to Arnold]

When she was born, I carried her home in that hat.

[Arnold nods]

ARNOLD: I see.


So, shall I keep her like this?

BEATRICE: Would you?


Memento Mori

ARNOLD: It’s not for me to say.


ARNOLD: We’ve been getting that a lot lately too.


Okay, imagine her another way.

[Beatrice sits and thinks]

ARNOLD: Any better?


ARNOLD: So? Like this then?

BEATRICE: Okay then. Like this.

[Gets up, whispers in Isa’s ear]

The hat. It was just a story, Isa. But you knew that, didn’t you?