Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"Never Special," Ghoulish, pt. 6, 401 words

The event that stood out most clearly, a day or two after I last talked to him, was an explosion that destroyed a police precinct. I'd heard about it, but by that time there was nothing I could hope to do to help out, so I kind of glossed it over. Few survivors, all in bad shape. Most of the bodies unidentified, in some cases all but unidentifiable. I don't remember where he worked, if he told me – just someplace with a lab, but thanks to CSI everyone's pretty well aware that police departments have forensic labs...

I swallow past a sudden lump in my throat and realize why this all feels so wrong. It feels like the body in the casket, the pictures flanking it, should belong to Nefarious. I've been thinking of him as dead for a week and a half now. Waiting for his funeral to break out around me, though God only knows how I'd actually find the right one amongst all the others going on at the same time.

I'm sorry, Gram, I think, carefully, to the casket. As if she can hear me. I'm mourning someone else at your funeral. The thought makes me sick to my stomach. I feel horrible and ghoulish, like a voyeur, or some kind of scavenger. Picking at another corpse to silence some misplaced longing.

I grimace and swallow the melodramatic thoughts. The reverend is already wrapping up, the whole ceremony taking half an hour at the most. There's still the burial, but the long part is behind us.

Non-family and the pallbearers are asked to step out of the room, so that any family who wishes to can go up to the casket and have a final moment before Gram is borne away to the hearse and then to the cemetery. I hang back, reluctant to have any “final moment” surrounded by so many other people.

The night after I arrived at Gram and Gramp's, Mom was showing me photos of my cousin's newborn child. They focused on the baby, but I could see Gram half-caught in the pictures. As long as I'd known her, she'd been a heavyset woman, but she carried it in such a way that she would've seemed... diminished, in spirit as well as body, to have been anything but. She was always that perfect exemplar of the matronly figure, in my mind.

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