Marlin M. Jenkins was born and raised in Detroit and graduated from Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. His writings have been given homes by Midwestern Gothic, Oyez Review, Split Lip Magazine, Old Northwest Review, and Again I Wait For This To Pull Apart (FreezeRay Press, 2015), among others. You can find him online at marlinmjenkins.tumblr.com and @Marlin_Poet.
Stan had never seen a funeral parlor before, let alone a dead body. As his parents whispered to a line of sniffling visitors, he wandered over to the coffin. It wasn’t a coffin, as the funeral director had corrected him earlier but a casket. The funeral director was tall and slender and had a mustache that tapered into points like sharpened pencils.
Stan ran his hands along the side of the casket. He studied its wood grain, glossy varnish, and shining brass handles. He then used the step stool the funeral director had set out so that, whenever Stan is ready, he could look into the casket, to see what lay upon the satin-pearl interior. It was a dusty-looking version of Grandfather, lips drawn unnaturally tight, speckled hands folded upon his chest like sleeping toads. Stan understood that Grandfather had died, that his soul had gone on. Still, it troubled him to see him lying there, unmoving. Stan wanted Grandfather to sit up and smile, to say that this was all some sort of trick. Grandfather loved tricks.
The lower half of the casket was closed, and this made Stan think of the time Grandfather had taken him to a magic show, to see the famous