She wondered if her mother had named her in a burst of prescience, or if her name had led her to this. Dolores. Pains. She felt them more keenly than other people did, so they paid her to do the feeling for them.

She put on a black dress, pulled a black shawl over her bony shoulders. A black veil obscured her face, but she often tore it during the ceremony. She bought veils wholesale from a man who made them with cheap cloth, like paper. In her youth, she would have ravaged her dress as well, even scratched her face and arms in despair, but she had to be more restrained now. Her skin was as thin as her veils, and equally hard to mend.

This was the funeral of Mr. Lee, who had owned the laundry around the corner. She had known him, but that made no difference. Every life was precious to her, every death a disaster. Already she felt the tears coming. She slipped on her walking shoes and hobbled down to the street, a wail building inside her like a wave, ready to wash over the mourners and leave them clean.

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2 Responses to “Dolores”

  1. wow, grief for hire. that’s a new one. I liked the skin/veil comparison, and her grief washing the mourners clean. If only it was that easy.

    Felt compelled to look up the root of dolores after I read the story even though it made perfect sense without knowing all the nuances of the name; since you inserted [pains] as a reference. Going to be thinking about this one for a while.

  2. Valerie says:

    Thanks, Karen. Glad you enjoyed it. Professional mourners are out of style these days for the most part, but it used to be a time-honored profession and some cultures still value them. It got me thinking about what kind of person could manage that job.

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