Last Time in Bangkok

by Grace Loh Prasad

The immediate family members were invited into the small, doorless room, covered floor-to-ceiling in bright blue tiles. The only decoration was a high, small alcove displaying a crucifix and a simple bouquet. This was not how I expected to see my brother, lying on a platform covered up to his chest in a white sheet, wearing a dark blue suit. His arms were straight by his side and his hands looked dark and unnaturally big. Makeup disguised his yellowed skin, and he was clean-shaven. He was still wearing his glasses, and his eyes were shut in peaceful repose. His face had been gaunt in the photos my uncle took in the hospital the previous week, and my husband had commented on how handsome Ted looked with more chiseled features. But today his cheeks were plumped up again, and I wondered if that was the embalmer’s craft, trying to make the deceased look as much as possible like his portrait, like the stocky, muscular man everyone remembered.

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