The Funeral (short story) by @JeanNicole19

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The Funeral

by JeanNicole Rivers

Twitter: @JeanNicole19
Website: HERE

For the first time in this house, the mood was somber after a funeral. In this family funerals were usually a bittersweet occasion. Beloved elders passed on and the family embraced the grieving process necessary to nurse the earthly loss, but celebrated the transcendence into something far more exquisite than anything in this realm. Aunts, cousins, uncles, nephews, sisters, brother and nieces would come together, coordinating trips to the airport to extract multiple family members in one journey. Despite the death, funerals were a time for family to come together and wash away the time and distance that individual endeavors had put between them. They laughed and ate and drank and poured over good memories. Happy to be together and sad to part ways, was the recurring theme of these reunions, but this funeral was different. Loud, jovial voices recounting childhood adventures and follies did not erupt from the living room. Hushed whispers of the emotionally battered were the only sporadic break in the smothering silence. Children sat still in their chairs and elders gathered around the kitchen table barely speaking over their cups of coffee that had grown cold with the slow passing of time. Mystified mourners arrived, mouths empty of words, hands filled with lasagnas, cakes and crock pots. Food was a great idea in the event of the death of a sickly patriarch because it allowed the family the luxury of not having to worry about filling a basic need. With the unsolved, gruesome murder of a child food was a terrible idea, for there is no room in any stomach for baked chicken with all of the space being occupied by nausea, helplessness, loneliness, misery, longing, rage and sheer hatred waiting for the undeterminable hair trigger that releases it all in a spewed vomit.

“You have to eat something.” Angela said wearily, taking a seat next to her younger sister.

Kimmy did not move a muscle as she continued to stare out of the window that gave her a clear view of the last path her child took from home. Her mind worked swiftly re-creating the dreaded moment, a vintage film playing on a projector in the mind that was now cursed with repetition.

“Can I go out and ride my bike for a while mom, please?” Ciana begged her mother. Ciana’s bright eyes were wild with adventure lust.

“No. It’s starting to get dark.” Kimmy heard herself say to the haunt that stood before her.

“Please mom. I will only go around the block once. I will be back before you know it.” Ciana prodded her mother hoping her innocent smile would soften her mother’s will.

Two moments in time collided, the past and the present and as Kimmy sat in her kitchen with her sister next to her, both of them cloaked in black she saw an opportunity to change everything. Ciana stood before her in the sweet dusk of the summer day, yet Kimmy remained in the unforgiving present a line between them vividly marking what was and what is. The haunted mother sat in the gray and tried to position her lips to confirm her first response, but in that moment the order of the universe commanded that its history not be changed. Against her present will, her mouth was forced to repeat the same death sentence that it had handed out before.

“One time around the block.” Kimmy felt complete deflation as the words toppled out of her resistant mouth. With that, the 8 year old girl departed, only to be seen alive again in the memories of her family and the love-sick dreams of her mother.

“WHY WEREN’T YOU WATCHING HER?” Kimmy’s husband burst into the kitchen apparently possessed with spontaneous fit, demolishing the haunting scene that had just played out before her.

“MATTHEW!” Angela gasped, grasping her sister’s shoulders in her protective instinct.

Panting in frustration and exhaustion Matthew stood before his wife. This was it, this was the question! Kimmy herself wanted to know why she was not watching her own child. No one in the neighborhood could recall any child ever being murdered, abducted or even chased by a dog under its cozy blanket of suburbia. Ciana had ridden her bike around the block unsupervised several times as many neighborhood children had. Frequently, Matthew allowed her to ride without watch, yet somehow this question still made sense, only because nothing else made any sense at all.

Every eye in the susurrus surroundings fell upon her and she gave him the truth because she had nothing left to give.

“I don’t know.” She responded in a choked whisper.

Night came.

Angela put away the food, finished up the dishes and tucked her sister into bed but not before bringing Kimmy the tall glass of orange juice that she had requested. Angela left the home minus the bottle of pills recently prescribed to Kimmy to tranquilize her in these times of extreme emotion. Secretly Kimmy had managed to remove the powerful medication from her sister’s purse at some point during the melancholy events of the day.

Without a word to her husband Kimmy sat up in the bed and swallowed each pill one after the other, washing them down with the glass of orange juice.

Carefully, she reviewed the damning thoughts that swirled in her head.

Investigations would continue on, but nothing would ever come of it, she knew. Soon the people would stop coming with their empty mouths and full casserole dishes. Police updates would dwindle until the little and insignificant evidence recovered would be put into a white box marked “Ciana Tatum” in black permanent marker and shoved on a shelf in the back of a cold room. Ciana’s name would go from being that of a fun loving neighborhood child to urban legend warning against of the dangers of not being in the house by the time the sun set on the day. Deafening quite would take root in the house at 413 Apple Pine Road and grow until it was so massive and loud that the words “I Love You” could never be heard between husband and wife ever again. There was nothing more to be said and nothing to be done.

Kimmy lay down, closed her eyes and prayed that her baby girl would come for her.