Siblings Sarah and David are desperate to find a final resting place for their mom’s cremains. Music offers a solution.
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Boogie Woogie Resting Place
Two teen siblings, backpacks slung over their shoulders, trudged the length of the St. Pancras mall in the heart of London. Shops lined both sides of the mall, a rail station anchoring one end.
Sarah said, “This wasn’t supposed to be hard. Mom loved this city. Why can’t we find a place where her cremains belong?”
David wiped a tear away from his cheek. He patted his backpack. “She deserves a proper resting place.”
He spied a small coffee shop. “How about an iced coffee? My treat.”
“Excellent idea, brother.”
The two snagged a tiny table at the front of the shop. They sipped drinks while watching a steady stream of travelers wheeling their carryon luggage down the mall. Other shoppers wandered in and out of the stores. Across from the coffee shop a piano, one of London’s public pianos, snugged up against the glass wall of an elevator shaft.
A man, black Dr. Martens, sunglasses, spiked salt and pepper hair, sat at the piano playing a soft tune. None of the pedestrians stopped to listen.
The piano man moved into an upbeat boogie woogie tune. Now a few passersby stopped, clapped along, swayed to the music. One random man stood next to the piano man and began playing the higher notes. More people stopped to listen.
“Mom would have loved this,” David said. “Live music, lots of people, shopping.”
Piano man slowed the pace, now doing a soft boogie woogie version of ‘You are my sunshine.’
Sarah brightened. “Oh God, mom loved this song.”
“Too bad she can’t settle here.”
Sarah stood. “Why not?”
Sarah pointed to a large planter nestled under an escalator. “There.”
“Sure. Cameras everywhere. They’ll think we’re planting a bomb.”
Sarah spotted a mall cleaning lady park her cart in front of a restroom. The woman tossed her cap on the cart, disappeared inside. Sarah dashed over, pushed the cart next to the planter. She grabbed the cap and plopped it on David’s head.
“You sit on the ledge, wipe it down like you belong here. Quickly. Dig a hole in the planter near one of those little plam trees. Let me worry about the distraction.”
Before David could register a breath of protest, Sarah put her backpack down near the planter and ran over to the piano man. He picked up the tempo. Sarah began dancing to the music. She kicked her legs, waved her arms in the air, managed to carry off a couple of cartwheels. Piano man was ecstatic for the attention. More people gathered around, clapping, stomping.
At the planter David yanked a magazine and a trowel from his backpack, and using the magazine as a screen, dug a foot-deep hole in the soft soil alongside the planter’s edge. He slipped a simple urn from the backpack, and poured the cremains into the hole he had dug. Just as quickly he covered the hole.
All eyes were on Sarah and piano man. David wiped fingerprints off the empty urn, the trowel and the magazine, shoved them deep into the trash bag on the cleaning cart. He wiped down the handles of the cart, pushed it away with his foot. The cap he crumpled up and stuffed in his pocket. Can’t leave any DNA evidence, he told himself.
When the cleaning lady exited the restroom, she looked confused, spotted her cart, and pushed it away.
David stood slowly, stretched his limbs. He grabbed both backpacks and wandered over to the edge of the crowd. He resisted giving any obvious signal to Sarah. Piano man wound down his song, announced he was breaking for coffee. Sarah, sweating and panting, took her backpack as she walked off with David. He threw the cleaning lady’s cap in a nearby trash container.
“I didn’t know you could dance like that,” he said.
After a few moments David said, “Mom’s at rest now.”
Sarah drew her arm through David’s as they walked away. She turned back for a moment. “Love you, mom.”