Funeral - Short Story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
A funeral in a small town.
You're the one in the coffin.

Submitted: December 19, 2009

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Submitted: December 19, 2009



A tear rolls into itself in the mother’s eye, overflows and drips down her damp cheek, falls to the ground, blends in with the rain. The look in her exhausted eyes could break anyone’s heart. She cries silently, her eyes puffy and red. It’s the kind of cry only seen at funerals, only felt at funerals. The kind where the tears aren’t alive, but lifeless, and the death of the loved one seems surreal. The kind where the crier pushes away the grief, the overwhelming sadness of the loss.
Her husband’s arm is wrapped around her tight, holding her close in the rain. His other hand holds the black umbrella over their heads, keeping them dry. His worn eyes watch the grave in front of them, a look in his eyes saying “You could have done better,” and “Look what trouble you caused,” the disapproval of his deceased child harsh. Sorrow creeps at the corners of his mouth, dragging them down, jerking the tears. But he holds them back. There’s no tears. He cannot lose his dignity. If he cries, his wife will lose it. He holds it. For her.
They wear black. A long black dress hangs at the mother’s ankles and a suit on the husband. In his mind, it’s sad. Nothing more, nothing less. It wasn’t his kid. It was his step kid. Nobody lives forever. All there is that’s left is his wife and two other step kids. This one died. That’s it. That’s all.
Surrounding the grave in a semi-circle, guests hang their heads and few sob. Teachers and parents, family and friends all wear black. Some carry flowers, and place them gently in front of the headstone. The only sound is the pastor chime of a church bell somewhere in the distance, echoing across the graveyard to tell them its six o’clock. Its melancholy tune only depresses the situation.
There aren’t many guests. The small town is always busy, not many people came. Everyone knew the child.
And, with flowers in front of the headstone and the words said, the funeral ends. They walk away in the rain, slowly, despite the chill wind and water. They walk through the other graves, treating them as if they were meaningless, just another dead body six feet under. The mother and husband give one last goodbye, from her a sad weep, from him a bitter farewell. The child’s teachers don’t cry. The neighbors bury their faces in their hands. The child’s friends still don’t believe their eyes.
Soon the only person remaining is a boy. He wears a dark shirt and tie, creased pants, everything is too big for him, like it was borrowed from an older brother. He holds no umbrella, his wet ash hair clings to his head. In his hand he grips a single white rose, droopy with rain. Its petals are almost wilted. He lifts it to his eyes, looks at it, and takes the steps to the grave.
He places the rose softly on the headstone, kneels down, ignoring the wet grass. A true look of sadness crosses his eyes, but no tears come. His lips move, just above a whisper.
“I’m sorry,” He says to the grave. “I’m sorry about what happened, I didn’t expect…” he pauses, as if awaiting an answer. “Your mom is crying her eyes out over you, kid. If only you could see this.” As he talks, hysteria builds in his voice. “We miss you. We cared about you, and now you’re dead. If only you could feel this.” He places his hand on the headstone’s face, traces the words with his finger. He sighs. “It hurts. What happened was wrong. You need to live.”
He shakes his head, holding back the tears. He’s talking to a grave. He’s lost it. Looking down at the ground, he says, “You shouldn’t be here. I should be,” And stands. The rose hangs over the edge.
The boy walks backward, still watching the grave. “I’m sorry.” He says. “If only we could rewind time. I’ll see you soon.” He adds, almost unsure, words tasting strange in his mouth. “As a matter of fact, see you up there.” He nods upwards, referring to the special place.
And he leaves, the words looming over the grave. I can’t tell him to stop. I can’t do anything. He just leaves, trudging his feet in the grass, turns the corner, disappears. I should do something.
But I don’t.
Because I’m the one in the coffin.

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