Another gorgeous sunny day blessed the hamlet of Ferthing. A handcrafted wooden bench hugged the edge of the green. It faced inward, providing its custodian with uninterrupted views of the valley below. Some say it’s the best view in the whole of England but then you’d expect nothing less from the residents.
Every time there was a rare sunny morning, Kathy would take two minutes to herself and sit admiring the view. She would take the opportunity to absorb the clean fresh country air. A long exhale followed every deep breath, and stressful thoughts drifted away. The birds’ serenade seemed to be for her sole enjoyment and enhanced her feeling of serenity.
Kathy’s job was only a two minute walk away from her home. It was a small victory of independence being able to walk to work, as she had never learnt how to drive. She only had one client today. She could leave work early guilt-free and get a taxi into town for some therapeutic clothes shopping.
Mr Henry was already prepared, lying under a modesty towel and waiting for her. “Good morning Mr Henry,” she said as she selected a soothing track from her iPod.
She picked up his chart scanning a few personal details. She liked to know a bit more about her clients before she began her work. “I see your name is Philip. Do you prefer Phil or Philip?” She could see he had a dignified air. “I think you suit Philip best. I’ll call you Philip if that’s ok?”
She opened up her bag and started placing items on the trolley. She guided it along the side of the bed and positioned it next to Philip’s right arm. She took his hand and started to buff his nails.
“It’s your big day tomorrow,” she said. “I hear there’s going to be a lot of people in attendance. You must feel pretty special to be so loved. I wonder what music they’ll be putting on for you? You look as though you like a bit of classical music. I can understand why. It’s got a way of penetrating the soul and stirring all sorts of hidden emotions.” She began to hum to the music playing on the iPod.
It didn’t take too long for her to complete both hands of Philip’s manicure. She pushed the trolley further up the bed, in line with Philip’s head. “I hope you don’t mind me getting a little more intimate and I know I don’t need to do it, but I’d like to brush your teeth now. We want you to have the best of smiles,” she said through her own radiant smile.
She unwrapped a brand new pink medium hard toothbrush. “Don’t mind the colour,” she said. She placed a small amount of whitener on the toothbrush head. She lifted Philip’s top lip and with a deft touch rotated the bristles against his teeth. “There, that’s not so bad is it?”
Once she completed his teeth she placed the toothbrush back into its wrapper and threw it into the bin.
“Now then, we want you to have a little colour in those cheeks of yours.” She took out a few different shades of blusher and held them next to Philip’s cheek. “That’s the one,” she said, satisfied.
It didn’t take too long to finish putting on the make-up. She finished up by combing his hair. “My, Mr Henry. You are a very handsome man.”
“Kathy, are you done? The taxi has arrived for you,” called the man who stuck his head around the door.
“Yes Pete, all done.”
He came over to look at her handiwork. “Very impressive.”
“Oops, one last thing,” she said. With minimal force she turned up the corners of Mr Henry’s mouth. “There, perfect.”
“I don’t know how you do it. You’ve made him look so peaceful, so content. You’ll give his mourners great comfort in that.”
“Thank you Pete.” They both stood staring in shared thought at Mr Henry. “I’d better dash, I don’t want to keep the taxi waiting.”
“Have fun, see you tomorrow.”
Kathy raced to the taxi in her excitement. She sat in the front seat and buckled the seatbelt.
“A’right duck.” said the taxi driver. He craned his neck to read the funeral director sign above the door she had just left. “What you do in there?”
She turned to him and smiled. “I just put smiles on people’s faces.”