George stood against the wall at the funeral home that sleepy afternoon. It was the day of Linda’s funeral. He wasn’t prepare for this. As he looked down the empty, silent hall towards the casket that held his sister-in-law he felt nothing. He watched as his daughter and wife made their way through the crowd, hugging the sobbing family members gathered around the deceased woman. George was never any good at funerals.
He was reminded of the first funeral he had to attend. His best friend from grade school was killed in a freak accident at the age of twelve. The sight of that young boy dressed up in his Sunday best never to wake again stuck with George.
The room began to shrink; he stood there wondering how his own daughter was dealing with the tragedy. That moment was the first time he could remember ever having any interest in the young girls feelings. He started to contemplate his entire relationship with the poor child.
“How are you holding up sweaty?”
It was the voice of his mother. George looked up from his silent trance only to realize he hadn’t budged from the wall. All he could muster was a half shrug. He wasn’t crying that much he was sure of. He was just sort of in a daze. He stared blankly at his mother, the woman who gave him life. The same woman that dictated how his life was to play out. The same woman who arranged his own marriage had arranged the union between his brother Drake and the now dead Linda.
He couldn’t help but wonder if Drake felt the same way about Linda as George felt about his own wife. He never even considered for a single moment that this person who slept in his bed, living in his house might actually be someone worth sharing his life with. He didn’t even know how much time had passed before he realized his mom was still talking to him as somehow he continued to tune her out entirely. Finally after God knows how long, he managed to mumbled.
“I don’t know…”
It was all he could muster. He gently brushed his mother out of the way, ignoring every word she spoke. It was time to begin his slow trek down the aisle towards his now gone sister-in-law. The woman who left his beloved brother a widower.
It took something like forever to get down the aisle. There he was laying in his casket, dressed in his nicest Sunday clothes, pants perfectly pressed, hair combed back and his tiny tie folded gently down his chest. It was not fair, how could Brandon be in that box? It was just a few days ago they were running around at the park as Jennifer Hambly was chasing them around spreading her cooties.
“How you holding up kiddo?” his dad asked him, hand on his shoulder. George wasn’t sure how to respond. All he could do was place his hand on his friends casket.
Suddenly cooties didn’t seem so bad. George would have traded all the cooties in the world if his friend would just wake up and get out of that box. It was the Fourth of July when his friend met his demise. It had been the hottest summer in decades. The grass was dry from the summer heat. Brandon had been playing near a box of fireworks that were to be used in the town display.
George’s dad had been the deputy mayor so it made sense he would befriend the son of the fire chief. Brandon should have known better and somehow he didn’t see it coming, the explosive that would have lit up the sky would be the object if his demise.
As George made his way down the aisle to say good bye to his best and only friend in this world he realized right then and there life was going to devolve into a nightmare from here on out. He learned that you can’t count on anyone, not even the son of a fire chief. He felt like all he could count on was loss.
George looked up at the final bed his sister-in-law would ever sleep in.
“It hardly seems right wouldn’t you say?” a voice said to George.
He looked over and saw one of his aunts.
“She was so young, so beautiful. What a waste, so sad,” she said.
“I hardly knew her,” George said.
“How can you say that, George, this was your sister how could you say such a thing?” the woman asked.
He shook his head.
“I don’t know. We never talked much. I guess I missed out on my chance to get to know her,” he said.
“All the more tragic if you ask me. I don’t know how your poor brother is ever going to recover. Even if he gets out of that hospital there’s little chance he’s going to put his life back together so soon. Such a tragedy,” she said.
Here he was saying goodbye to a loved one yet his mind began to wonder elsewhere. He glanced over at his own wife, why couldn’t it be you? he thought to himself. He couldn’t even remember why he hated her so, just that he did.
He knew he did not only hate his wife for not being dead, he was blaming God for being so ironic. Suddenly a smile began to appear on his face. He nearly let it get the better of him before he realized where he was.. He knelt down beside the woman in the box and said a soft prayer.
“I’ll fix this you just wait and see.”
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