March 05, 2013

Dress at a funeral

It was made of a heavy fabric; a clothe that fell between her fingers. Holding the dress up against her body, she turned to face the full length mirror. It ended appropriately, just below her knobby knees. She stared listlessly at the reflection of two, drainpipe calves. Of all her black dresses, it was the only one that might do. And, it had to be black. 

At the church, Clarence was wearing dark colours too. Briefly, she wondered if he wouldn't be more comfortable in his electric blue Superman tee-shirt. She'd seen it on him so often, the running joke was that he had lived in it. In death as in life, she thought, and so it would be fitting for him to be buried in it. And maybe along with his bass guitar too. In death, as in life.

Then she thought, perhaps his family may want these things as keepsake. It seemed only natural really. The biggest hoarders are those who have lost something, someone, equally big. These are the only people with enough space in their lives. 

Clarence's coffin was red. Some sort of cherry wood. His sleeping face serene in the cathedral's white light. He was half the boy he had been only a year ago. Body and life wasted by cancer. But, because it was Clarence, that was still a lot! His big personality was highlighted by every tear shed that afternoon. 

She stared at the box; trying so hard not to cry that her face became a blank slate. She wanted to watch the other people, but it didn't seem right. Even congregated as they all were, a person's pain is private. She stared at the body. Yes, it was now, just a body. Still Clarence, but now with the added description: Clarence's body, half-a-Clarence.

Uncharacteristically silent, and dignified- in death. 

Except for the wads of embalming cotton sticking out from his very still nostrils. From where she stood, aisle six from the front, the cotton looked like a giant booger. One that he'd never have the chance to pick out. Camera clicking could be heard from any corner with a decent light. Friends, who were also photographers. Poe-like in their dealings with pain. The instrument's snapping noise of capture seemed, all at once, more pronounced. He'd be buried forever with a cotton booger but she wondered if they  would take care of the image in post-production.

Just as the thought crossed her mind, Clarence's older brother quietly pushed the cotton higher up the body's nose, so it couldn't be seen anymore. He's brave, she thought, for he didn't cry.

A few hymns later, the gathered left the church. She found her younger brother, who had played drums with Clarence in a band, the remaining members of which were also present. They'd all been together since her brother was ten. Clarence must have been fifteen and she, seventeen, when they'd first met; a decade ago. Each of the young boys had red eyes but dry cheeks. The backs of their hands were wet and glistened; It wasn't a hot day and the cathedral almost chilly. They, too, were brave.

Everyone dissipated. She went home filled with memories of Superman tee-shirts, Slipknot and cotton wads. She took off the black dress, found her purple payjamas and crawled into them. She switched on the television and let the laughter track tell her how to react to the given situations. She found this lack of complication comforting.  It was a re-run she'd seen before, so she already knew when to laugh and when to cry.

How strange, she thought, that it was so natural for life to move on. 

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