Lazy dark clouds floated above the funeral house like an apparition, while the chilly mountain wind whipped the clothes about the congregation below. The attendees stood around a particularly small coffin, unbelievably small almost. Cruelly small.
A group of eight stood on one side of the coffin, like how only a family could stand; closely, without discomfort. The youngest of them, a woman, barely, stood closest to the coffin. Tears streamed down devil red eyes, dragging her mascara down her slender, delicate face. Her abused eyes did not leave the coffin.
The women in the group were sniffing loudly, the men stood solemnly, with stern jaws and firm eyes. Eyes that would occasionally settle on the man on the other side of the coffin and harden.
He was young man, almost as young as the woman on the other side. But he seemed to grow older the longer one stared at him, as if time were speeding up for around him.
He did not cry. His face betrayed no emotion, his eyes were lowered but his gaze was distant, his shoulders slumped slightly. The wind whipped his long bangs, making them move about his head in fantastic ways. A leaf caught on his jacket zipper and stayed there before setting itself free.
The funeral master’s voice rose and fell with the wind, his monotonous discourse lost on those who were grieving.
“….and we lay this infant child down into the earth, into your care again lord,
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust….”
The older women wailed at a higher pitch now, one of them even blew her nose dryly into a kerchief. The men held their women, the children, two of them, fidgeted and waited impatiently for their elders to get a move on. Eventually the family hustled and floated away, towards the gate, to their parked cars, leaving the young woman and the man alone.
She lifted her eyes in a quick motion and fixed them on the man. He was looking at her. Their eyes met, like so many times before, but they both knew something had changed in it now, forever. From now on, every time they would look at each other, it would be a reminder, a reminder of the part them that was now lost forever. That piece of them that now was in the ground between them.
Her eyes now pleaded at him. As if begging him to do something. Anything. But he just looked back at her, with eyes that saw her as she was. It was impossible to see behind them. She suddenly gasped and cried out, her face crunching up, like how she must have cried when she was a child; overwhelmed by pain. She clutched at her heart and slowly came down on her knees. He was there before she hit down. He grabbed her around the waist and lifter her up. She leaned against him and clutched at his jacket.
They walked back together.
She looked up at him while they were walking, through a glass of tears and saw the same expression. His eyes faraway, his face blank. Neither of them said anything.
When they reached the parking lot he stopped near his dusty red hatchback while she walked back to her family. They were already in the car. She stopped midway and turned back, again, with the same begging eyes she looked at him. Searching for something, something she knew she’d find only in him. Her hand found her breast again as she held his eyes. His broken eyes. She took a few steps forward, as if to come hold him, but then she stopped, turned, ran to the car, got in, and then she was gone.
The man looked on till they turned around the corner. He then turned to the hill and found the dark patch in the ground, he made as if to go to the grave again, but he stopped and just stood there. The sun slowly went down behind the dark clouds,without showing face, and still he stood there. He stood there as the clouds finally broke and let down upon him. He stood there even as he got into the car, pulled out and drove away, his eyes, the same. And still he stood there.