A slight young woman, probably not much past her mid-twenties slipped into the bathroom and shut the door behind her, without even bothering to turn on the light. Almost immediately, she burst into tears. How long did she stand there? Was it seconds? Minutes? Hours? The stuffy darkness of the room and the salty-bitter taste of makeup mixed with tears brought her back to reality.
Surely someone was looking for her by now. Then she remembered. No one could see her anyway. No one could hear her. She was lost to the nothingness- no more than a breeze moving the curtains.
She moved through the crowd and found an empty seat, towards the back of the room. The funeral parlor was fairly full. Several people were crying, but quite a few were just shifting about looking awkward, as if they were afraid to look too happy. One girl threw back her head and laughed, then immediately clasped a hand over her mouth and glanced around to see if anyone noticed. No one seemed to. The girl was one of her best friends. She wondered what she was laughing about and decided to move closer.
“…she wouldn’t want all this, you know. She told me once that she just wanted a simple wooden coffin and a celebration of her life. And that outfit they have her laid out in? You KNOW she hated it with a passion! You know what we should do? Tonight, let’s have a movie night in her honor. Everybody should have to wear something pink or turquoise. After all, you know those were her favorite colors. She stifled a giggle. “Remember when we went on that shopping trip and it took like half an hour to talk her out of buying that ridiculous turquoise top with the ruffles? She looked like a clown that got an 80s makeover when she tried it on. Oh- and remember the time we stayed up til like, 3 am eating candy and talking…”
The young woman slipped away, a small smile on her face and began eavesdropping on other conversations.
“…such a shame that she died so young! How’d they say it happened anyway? Young people just don’t make the most of the time they have anymore. I mean, really, what did she accomplish with her life…”
She drifted past the older women she recognised from her church and continued towards the front of the room.
Suddenly her eyes locked on her family. Her mother looked like she was about to fall to pieces any second. Her father kept trying to talk to people, but he kept stopping to bow his head and cry. Her sister looked totally lost. On the one hand, she started to cry every time she looked at the white casket and on the other, she kept sneaking looks at a rather cute boy towards the middle of the room. Last, her eyes fell on two other figures in the line. Her brother looked strangely angry, as if he wanted to beat her up for daring to die and leave him surrounded by all these relatives.Her husband stood at the very end of the line, tall and brave, but his eyes melted like pools of despair.
She rushed over and reached out to try and touch him, but her fingers just passed through like he was made of air.
Gasp. I sat up in bed in a cold sweat. Heart in my throat, I leaned over to my husband’s side of the bed and kissed his sleeping lips. They were real, firm and warm. I was real. I was alive!