Author: Joe Graves
“With this top-of-the-line casket, you have unlimited destination opportunities,” explained the funeral director, tapping the back where the propulsion sat, “these boosters will send your husband to the nearest asteroid belt, planet or for a few credits more, take him to the nearest star where he can rest among the gods!”
Primrose rested her hands against the edge of the casket and stared out the airlock of the ship. She’d never enjoyed making decisions, and for most of her adult life, she hadn’t had to. Everest had been more than happy to oblige—at least while he was alive.
Those who couldn’t afford a rocket-powered casket had to share the same fate as food waste and human excrement; their bodies were recycled. Their destination was the garden. But that wasn’t Primrose. She could afford anything she wanted.
“And if you choose to send him to a star,” he continued, “for a small fee, it can be named after him, so you can remember him wherever you are.”
She began to wonder if her husband of forty years would enjoy resting in a star. If only she could send him back to Earth. That’s what he loved the most. He often talked about the feeling of dirt under his toes, endless trees, and his small garden of tomatoes. He missed tomatoes the most. There weren’t many on the ship.
After a long pause, the director asked, “Have you decided where he will go to rest?”
She smiled at the young man and then turned back to the casket and held Everest’s hands. She had been pondering this question for the last year—ever since his diagnosis. Everest had given zero clues about what he wanted. “Whenever you send me,” he had told her, “just make sure a part of me stays close to you.” Whatever she was going to do, she had to decide today. “May I have a few more moments with him alone?” she asked.
“Yes, of course. Take all the time you need.”
She bent down to him, and in a whisper asked, “Where do you want to go? And why the hell didn’t you wait for me to go with you?” She took in a deep breath and then noticed the painted metallic pin holding his tie: a bright red tomato.
She stood back up. “Sir, I’ve made up my mind,” she said.
“Where will he be headed today?” he asked again, as he walked up, ready to put in the coordinates.
She turned to him. “You’re too young to have been to earth—born on the ship—and this is all you know. But I remember, and so did my husband—did you know that back on earth everyone was recycled?”
The director paused and looked a little embarrassed. “Recycled?” She might as well have told him they used to throw everyone’s body into the trash. “A woman of your means doesn’t have to have him recycled.”
“A woman of my means can have exactly what she wants.”
She turned towards the casket, leaned in and kissed Everest’s hands. “What if you helped a tomato grow? It’s better than a star, I think… but you know I was never very good at these kinds of decisions.” She removed the small tomato pin on his tie, kissed it, and placed it in her pocket. Standing up, she turned to the director. “I’d like him recycled; I won’t have it any other way.”