Authors: Milda Harris
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Love & Romance, #Mysteries & Detective Stories, #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #Cozy, #Romance, #Romantic Suspense, #Mystery, #Humor, #Young Adult, #dark comedy, #chick lit, #Contemporary, #teen, #Love Stories, #funeral, #mystery for girls, #mystery stories, #mystery female sleuth, #mystery ebook, #mystery and romance, #graveryard
Funeral Crashing Trilogy #1
By Milda Harris
Copyright 2010 by Milda Harris
Discover other titles by Milda Harris at
Cover Art by Brett Gilbert
Edited by Lauren Cramer
This book is a work of fiction. The names,
characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s
imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be
construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead,
actual events, locales, or organizations is entirely
All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be
used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written
permission from the author.
Table of Contents
is a little weird, I suppose, for someone my age. I’m sixteen,
almost seventeen, and I just started my junior year at Palos High
School in Palos, IL. It’s in the southwest suburbs of Chicago.
Still, I’m not Harold from
Harold and Maude
, just to make
that clear. I love movies and that one is funny and dark, but I’m
not like him. I don’t stage fake suicides or drive a hearse. He was
dark and somber and totally weird. I don’t think I’m like that. I
like normal things like regular cars. Actually, I’d really love a
bright blue convertible. And, I’m not obsessed with death. I just
like going to funerals.
I’m kind of young to be a professional
mourner, though, right? That’s what they call it if you’re old
school. It tends to be in reference to groups of old ladies, who
just love to attend funerals. Maybe they’re trying to get ideas for
their own funeral. Maybe they want to beat the Joneses’ and get a
shinier coffin and better flowers than their neighbor had. Or,
maybe they just like funerals, like I do. And, when I say funerals,
I’m including the wake and the actual burial. They’re both part of
the same process.
I actually once found a website advertising
an exciting career as a professional mourner! I’ll admit it - I was
googling. It said you could make $500 a day and all you had to do
was start calling funeral homes and offer your services. Now that’s
an awesome after school job! So, I called, but none of them called
me back. I guess it wasn’t a lucrative career after all. It doesn’t
matter. I go to them anyway for free.
I know, I know. What more can I say to
explain? It’s simple. Super simple. I happen to like funerals and I
completely realize that it makes me seem like a totally and utterly
bizarre girl. Okay, I’m weird. Yes, I’m a freak. I admit it. Hey,
I’m not going to make fun of you for singing along to the latest
Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber song or anything. You know you do.
Those songs are catchy. Believe me, it wouldn’t be the first time
someone told me I was weird. My ex-best friend, Ariel Walker, loves
to tell me how strange I am whenever she gets the chance.
“Kait Lenox is a freak!” tends to follow me
around everywhere, at least when Ariel is around. I’m usually busy
trying to blend into the wall when she walks by now. It makes life
easier, much easier, and I’ve actually gotten quite good at it. I
doubt most of the student population even knows I exist, unless
Ariel points me out to them or something.
Ariel was named after
. You know, the really cute kids movie? Her mother loved
it. Well, my ex-bff Ariel didn’t grow up to be a sweet little
singing mermaid, let me tell you. We were best friends until our
freshman year of high school and then poof! She was gone with the
popular crowd, like we had never even known each other. Well, we
don’t know each other unless she stops to tell me how weird I am.
Then she’s happy to talk to me. That was the year my mother died
too. Can you believe that? See what I mean? Ariel is not a nice and
sweet singing mermaid. Her mother should have named her Ursula,
after the Sea Witch.
Yes, my mother died a little over a year and
a half ago. She had ovarian cancer, but by the time the doctors
found it, it had already spread. It was like one minute she was
diagnosed and two months later she was gone. I try not to think
about it. It still makes me really sad and if I dwell on it, I just
get depressed. I start thinking about things like if I ever get
married she won’t be there. Not that I remotely have any prospects,
but you know, if I ever do.
I miss her. I really miss her. I’d give
anything to have her back and wipe away those last two months. The
last moments my mother was alive, she was unconscious in our living
room, dying. It’s still depressing to walk into the living room. I
can almost still see where the hospital bed was, even though my dad
has replaced it with a leather couch and a brand new flat screen
TV. We all deal with grief in different ways.
The funeral was actually a relief. It was the
first funeral I had ever attended. I mean nobody in my family or
any family friends or anything had died in the fourteen plus years
I had been alive and then the first one to go, is my mom. Sure, I
had grandparents die before I was born, but I wasn’t born yet, so I
never knew them. Anyway, it was a memorable first funeral. I loved
my mom more than anything else and it was comforting having all of
the people who loved her all around us, even if most of them were
just family. And, you know what? It was a nice funeral for being
really depressing and all.
It was really cool hearing all the stories
about my mom. Things she had never mentioned to me. Like, I didn’t
know she lived in Los Angeles, California for three months when she
was twenty-six just to see if she liked it. She slept on her
friend’s couch and everything! She was too in love with my dad at
the time to stay, but wow, my mom had an adventure! She lived in
Hollywood! Where they make movies! I love movies. Maybe one day
I’ll go into filmmaking even. But, anyway, my mom was there in LA
with the movie stars! How cool is that?
Needless to say, the funeral was actually the
best part of that whole ordeal. I sound intellectual there, don’t
I, using the word ordeal? I like to read too – anything and
everything. My favorite books range from
Stephen King (very creepy) to
Gone With The Wind
Mitchell (classic romance) to
by Sophie Kinsella
(funny chic lit). See, I’m not all dark and dreary. A good book is
a good book when you like to read as much as I do. I suppose some
of my reading affinity comes from my best friend having ditched me,
becoming the weird girl, and having no friends at all upon starting
high school. Suddenly, you get a lot of time on your hands to do
stuff like read.
So, yeah, I’m not a Goth girl, by the way. I
don’t wear all black and I haven’t dyed my hair black either. I did
put bleach blonde highlights into my hair last year, but they’ve
all kind of grown out now and my hair is mostly back to it’s
reddish blonde again. It’s kind of rusty really. My mom always said
it was strawberry blonde and that it made my green eyes stand out.
I think she was just being my mom because my hair looks rusty to
Oh, and to be Goth you have to know it inside
out and be good at fashion, in a Goth way. It’s not all just
wearing black and I’m not good at fashion, by any means. I mostly
just wear jeans and T-shirts. To the funerals, I dress up and yes,
I do wear black. It’s a funeral, you’re supposed to. You’re
respecting and remembering the dead, you know? You should look nice
and black is the accepted color for mourning. Besides, the whole
point of crashing is to blend into the wake or funeral and fit in,
so a black outfit can be key. And, I am there to mourn with them,
so it’s good to play the part.
So, basically, I’m not a total freak, like
Ariel Walker makes me out to be. I just like funerals, which is why
I’m at a wake on Wednesday night, instead of at home watching
crappy reality television shows or teen dramas like everyone else.
And, okay, we do have TIVO and I can always catch them online
later, so it’s not like I’m missing anything.
It’s a wake for Liz O’Reilly. She was only
nineteen and died of a drug overdose - a heroin drug overdose to be
exact. It made the paper. There have been a lot of overdoses at
Laurel Community College in the last two months and it’s not the
kind of area you’d think would have a major drug problem. I mean,
pot, sure, but heroin? Heroin is a hardcore drug. It’s something
you’d expect to see a problem with in the inner city, not here in
the squeaky clean suburbs.
I saw the news article before I even read the
obituary. The obituary just said she was taken too soon from her
loving family. Nobody wants to admit that their kid was a druggie.
Things like that are never in the obituary. Her picture is what
really got to me. It made my heart constrict and everything, it was
so sad. Liz was really pretty from the photo. You’d never even
think of her as using drugs, at least not enough to overdose. Pot,
maybe. Alcohol, sure, she’s a teenager. Heroin, no way would she be
the type to even try it. I guess you can never tell, though. It’s
Liz looked like your average American girl -
dark hair, green eyes, tall, thin, and young. I’d bet anything that
they used her high school graduation photo for the obituary. It
just looked like one of those photos. Liz was smiling and clear
eyed, and had her whole life ahead of her. Now, instead, a year
later, she was dead and I was attending her funeral. You never knew
where life would take you or when it would be taken away from you.
Carpe diem, you know?
As a note, you have to be careful when
crashing a funeral or a wake. I usually stay toward the back and
keep my head down. I like listening to everyone else talk, but I
don’t actually want to get in on the conversation. Talking to
people is a good way to get caught funeral crashing. I mean, you
can talk to people, but you have to be very, very careful what you
say. When the only info you have on a person is from an online
obituary, it’s very easy to get caught in a lie. Then again, it’s
not like the deceased is going to sit up in their coffin and say,
“No, I definitely don’t know that girl with the rusty hair.”
You also don’t want to be only one of three
people in attendance. Small funerals are a definite no-no. Then
you’re really forced to talk about the deceased and if you don’t
actually know them, well, people don’t take too kindly to funeral
crashers. It’s always better to attend a large funeral, so that
people don’t get too nosy about why you’re there. And, like I said,
I’ve gotten very good at blending into the wall in high school, so
I’m pretty good at it at funerals too.
Although, there was this one time that I
didn’t blend so well. Not that I’ve ever gotten caught, exactly,
but when I first started funeral crashing I did have a hiccup. It
was the only time I’ve almost gotten caught. Instead of just
sitting down and casually mingling, I got into a conversation and
an old man caught me in a lie about his dead nephew and started
screaming at me. That’s when I made my rule about only minimally
talking to people. It was a horrific scene. I acted like he’d gone
crazy with grief and then I feigned having to go to the restroom
really, really badly. I ended up climbing out the window to escape.
I never wanted that to happen again. I wasn’t trying to hurt
anyone. I just…wanted to be there.
I figured Liz’s funeral would be big enough,
being that she was young and all, that I could blend in with any of
the college students that might be there. I was right. There
weren’t a thousand, like I would have thought, but they may have
been waiting to turn out at the end of the night – the whole
fashionably late thing. Still, there were enough of them that I
wouldn’t look conspicuous. I had just thought that most of Laurel
Community College would show up. I mean, Liz had died so young, but
maybe Liz alienated people when she started to use drugs. I know I
would have been mad at her for killing herself.