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Agnes Braithwaite glared at her family, at her three small grandchildren sat around the Christmas tree amidst a sea of discarded wrapping-paper, at her son slouched across the sofa with a vaguely disinterested expression on his face, at her daughter-in-law hovering over her offspring with her camcorder.

 

“Hello!” she called out, knowing her words wouldn't be heard.  “Isn't it about time one of you noticed I've died?”

 

She gestured towards her corpse, still slumped in the armchair by the radiator as it had been for nearly an hour.  She saw her face, or rather the face of the body she'd once occupied, had become distinctly pale, its eyes closed, mouth open, a stream of drool dribbling down her chin.  She could understand how they might not have noticed for the first ten or fifteen minutes after her passing – it had, after all, been an oddly swift and silent demise – but after nearly sixty minutes the body appeared unmistakably lifeless.

 

“What have you got there, Louis?” her daughter-in-law cooed at her youngest child as he tore open the gift Agnes had so carefully wrapped for him.

 

“Choccies!” the three-year-old exclaimed gleefully as the box emerged from the packaging.

 

“Who's a lucky boy then?” Carol sang at her son.

 

“Drippy tart,” Agnes groaned, rolling her eyes.

 

“What do you say to Granny?”

 

“Thank you, Granny,” Louis gurgled without looking around, stuffing a piece of chocolate into his mouth as he spoke.

 

“Just don't choke on it, dear,” Agnes retorted.  “Around here it could be days before they notice you're dead.”

 

She could understand how her grandchildren might not have noticed she'd died.  Even if they hadn't been captivated by the mountain of presents in front of them, the oldest was only seven and none of them were particularly bright.  However, her son, sat just three feet away from her, had asked her three distinct questions since she'd died and seemed thoroughly unperturbed by her lack of response, while her daughter-in-law had glanced at her, grinning foolishly, more than a dozen times.  How neither of them realised that they were in the company of a corpse was beyond her.

 

“Do you think we should give Granny one of her presents?” Carol suggested to her children as Louis lunged for yet another neatly wrapped parcel.

 

The trio murmured something that sounded vaguely like agreement as their mother sifted through the remaining packages.  After a moment she retrieved a small box enclosed in sparkly pink paper, turning towards Agnes with a vacant smile plastered across her face.

 

“Here you go, Mum,” Carol grinned.

 

“Don't call me Mum, you daft cow,” Agnes muttered.  “I sure as shit didn't give birth to you.”

 

“Mum?” Carol frowned, shuffling towards the armchair, peering closely at the body.

 

“It's about bloody time,” Agnes sighed.

 

“Aww,” Carol grinned, glancing at her husband.  “Mum's fallen asleep.”

 

“You dumb bitch,” Agnes muttered.

 


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