It's not my kind of thing. I don't enjoy getting dressed up or watching large crowds mill around in the small foyers. I hate filing into the stuffy room to take a seat at the back. The preachers are the worst. They drone on for ages, always repeating the same verses. Then they turn the pulpit over to the speakers, and they go on even longer, trying their hardest to make you laugh or cry. It's all supposed to be about remembering the person you lost, but I can't do it. I avoid funerals at all costs. Usually, anyway.
I can't this time. I have to go. I have to dig out that black dress I keep around only for occasions like this. I put on my make-up, do my hair, get into my car, and drive to the church. I go inside and find a safe place along the wall where I wait while the other mourners mill around and chat. For something that's supposed to be so somber, everyone sure does talk a lot. One of my friends comes over to stand beside me. After the initial hello, we don't say anything. We just stand along the wall, waiting.
Eventually the preacher beckons us all inside. I take my seat in the back, as far from the casket as possible. There's a big picture of the deceased sitting on an easel in front of it. I hate those things. They never do the dead person justice. They always seem fake. My friend sits beside me, along with her boyfriend. I notice they're holding hands. I hate that, too. It's a funeral. They shouldn't be holding hands.
I suffer through the preacher's incessant droning. It's cold in here. I can't feel my toes anymore. My fingers are turning blue. I suppress a yawn by clenching my teeth. I pick at my nails, peeling off the black paint. When I hear a woman's voice, I look up. She's an older woman, aged far beyond her years by the death of her son. She gives a very moving eulogy, but I refuse to cry. I won't cry. I will never cry.
Next comes his father. They were divorced. I heard that he cheated on her and she kicked him out. This was only months before. He had his mistress with him at the church. She was a big boobed blond bimbo dressed in a very inappropriate black mini skirt. Of course she would be. I don't hear his speech because I'm too busy glaring at her.
Eventually, the stupid thing ends and the people file out past the open casket to pay their respects. My friend sits beside me for a bit, then gets up to leave. I'm the last one left, aside from the preacher. He watches me, wanting me to leave so he can lock up the room and go mingle. I outlast him and he gives up and goes to mingle anyway, leaving me alone with the body.
I stand up and move slowly toward the front of the church. I know what I will see, but I don't want to see it. I have to, though. I have to do this. I get to the casket and look in. He's there, cold, lifeless, his eyes are closed. He looks awful. But I've seen him look worse. The day he died. That day, my life ended, too. I slip the ring off my finger and take his stiff hand.
"I love you," I whisper one last time. I slip the ring on his finger and walk away, my heart forever buried along with his, my body simply a cold, hollow shell.
**Origin of the story: There are 15-minute writing dashes at Milk Wood in Second Life every day at 5amSLT and 6:30pmSLT. This story is from the 2-17-11 evening dash, using the prompt "Heartache."**