Maggie’s Prank

Liam G. Martin
A Bit of Madness
Published in
4 min readFeb 19, 2021


Image by ddzphoto from Pixabay

‘Get back George, don’t let them see you,’ Maggie whispered.

The old man stepped back behind the curtain.

‘We don’t want to give away the surprise too early; we should at least let them get through a few eulogies first.’

Maggie peered through the crack.

She was surprised at how many people had turned up. The pews were nearly full. Old uncle Howard was there. Nephew Barney had managed to squeeze himself into his old suit. All the great-grandchildren had come. Even Doris, that doddery woman who lived down the lane sat in the back row. This is going to be some prank, she thought.

The opening song to The Rocky Horror Picture Show played in the background. It had been Maggie’s only request. It had been a difficult task to convince the devout clergy of St Patrick’s Methodist Church to forsake their usual hymns, but her daughter Janet had somehow managed to do it.

The vicar was a scrawny man with a ring of grey hair.

‘That’s quite enough of that,’ he said, cringing. He cleared his throat and began, ‘we are all here to celebrate the life of Margaret Whoosley.’ He opened the bible on his lectern and read out a passage.

George tapped Maggie on the shoulder. ‘Now Mags I need to tell — ’

‘Just look at her,’ she snapped.

‘Who am I looking at?’

‘Doris. Look at her sat there with that hat on. It isn’t even a nice hat. It looks like there’s a chocolate trifle on her head.’

‘Mags, can you just listen for a — ’

‘Shush, George, I want to hear this bit.’

Her best friend Sylvia was shuffling towards the altar using her rickety Zimmer frame.

She was wearing that black dress they had seen in the charity shop. Maggie had convinced her to buy it, you can’t be waiting for tomorrow at our age, she had said.

Sylvia’s eulogy was all about how Maggie had always been a good friend. About how she used to make her laugh, and always found the funny side of any situation, even in ones that shouldn’t really be funny.

Next up was Janet. Maggie was looking around the church, planning her big reveal and not listening. If she had been though, she would have heard Janet talk about all of the fond memories she had of her mum. How she loved to play practical jokes on people. But how, since George, her husband of sixty years had passed away a decade ago, her memory had slowly been deteriorating.

‘Here I go, George,’ Maggie said.

‘Just wait one second, Mags.’

It was too late. Maggie had stepped out from behind the curtain. ‘Surprise,’ she yelled.

But no one heard her. Nobody noticed her waving her arms and dancing around.

Janet passed by and took her place in the pews without even glancing at her. The vicar spoke of how Margaret was now with the angels, even though she stood right in front of him.

George stepped out from behind the curtain. ‘I’ve been trying to tell you all morning, but you never let me get a word in edgeways! You were always like that in life, and you’re still like it in death. You’re dead Mags. Dead.’ He pointed at the vicar who was reciting a poem, ‘they can’t see you, and playing silly buggers won’t change that.’

Maggie stopped and looked down. She took a hanky from her pocket and dabbed her eyes.

‘Sorry, love, I didn’t mean it like that,’ George said. ‘We’ve had a good run, haven’t we? Remember that time at Mablethorpe when you told the amusement park owner that the penny slot machine was rigged, and you kept on at him until he gave you your five pennies back? Or when we used to stop down at Brighton on the weekends?’

‘I suppose you’re right, love,’ Maggie conceded. ‘It’s just.’ She put her hanky back into her pocket. ‘It feels like I’ve still got things to do. It’s Lizzy’s first piano recital next Tuesday. I was meant to be meeting up with the girls this weekend too, and — and the other day I bought a lottery ticket, I’ll never see the draw now.’

‘You’ve been buying lottery tickets?’ George asked.

Maggie nodded solemnly.

‘How long have you been doing that?’

‘About a year now,’ she whimpered.

‘The lottery’s just a big waste of money, Mags. You’re never going to win. It’s like a million-to-one chance.’

‘I think I’ve got more things on my mind at the minute.’

George continued as if he had not heard her. ‘You’d have been better off flushing five pounds down the toilet every week.’

‘George, everyone’s leaving. I think we should go too,’ she said, taking his hand.

‘Bloody typical,’ George said. ‘You can talk for days and days but as soon as I get a chance to say anything you want to go.’

And as The Time Warp played on the speakers, and as the church slowly emptied, George and Maggie faded away.