Tonight, it struck me that the novel might be filmed in the manner of David Lynch, with an emphasis on the weirdness and horror lurking at the edges of things.
Open on a close shot of Samantha’s deformed face: “The neuroblastoma had pushed one eye out and around the nosebridge so that Samantha looked like a two-eyed Picasso profile.” Her eyes are closed, but it’s only when the camera starts to swing around and pull back that we realize she is in a casket.
The camera completes its swing and comes to rest on Dr. Tom More, who is kneeling at the casket and looking down at his daughter. His expression contains all the complicated emotions of the following passage:
I wonder: did it break my heart when Samantha died? Yes. There was even the knowledge and foreknowledge of it while she still lived, knowledge that while she lived, life still had its same peculiar tentativeness, people living as usual by fits and starts, aiming and missing, while present time went humming, and foreknowledge that the second she died, remorse would come and give past time its bitter specious wholeness. If only— If only we hadn’t been defeated by humdrum humming present time and missed it, missed ourselves, missed everything. I had the foreknowledge while she lived. Still, present, time went humming. Then she died and here came the sweet remorse like a blade between the ribs.
But is there not also a compensation, a secret satisfaction to be taken in her death, a delectation of tragedy, a license for drink, a taste of both for taste’s sake?
It may be true. At least Doris said it was. Doris was a dumbbell but she could read my faults! She said that when I refused to take Samantha to Lourdes. Doris wanted to! Because of the writings of Alexis Carrel and certain experiments by the London Psychical Society, etcetera etcetera. The truth was that Samantha didn’t want to go to Lourdes and I didn’t want to take her. Why not? I don’t know Samantha’s reasons, but I was afraid she might be cured. What then? Suppose you ask God for a miracle and God says yes, very well. How do you live the rest of your life?
Samantha, forgive me. I am sorry you suffered and died, my heart broke, but there have been times when I was not above enjoying it.
Is it possible to live without feasting on death?
More crosses himself, rises, and the camera follows him as he walks down the aisle between the rows of chairs in the funeral parlor. Doris is in the front row. More pauses when he reaches her, his eyes pleading: Why did you insist on the open casket?
Doris senses the unasked question, and retorts, “I want everyone to see what a loving God you’ve got there.”
Defeated, More continues down the aisle and out into the vestibule, where he takes out a flask and knocks back a hefty snort. He closes his eyes. The camera continues out the door to the immaculate exterior of the funeral home. But as it heads for the ground, we see a crack running the concrete walkway — and pushing up through the crack, an ominous sprouting vine.