Copyright 2009 by Carina Allison
The day was colder than I thought it would be. The overcast was a silver-gray, and the wind blew just enough to bite cruelly through the long black trench coat I wore. I didn't want to be here. The building seemed more macabre than it had ever appeared before, and the doorway was a dark void that invited me with a numbing comfort, but I knew the darkness had teeth that were waiting to devour me. The windows stared through my very being as I stood outside in front of it. I knew it wanted to eat the very essence of me. I kept my eye contact with the people that stood outside in clusters very limited. The tears kept burning my eyes as they tried to show themselves, but I forced myself to keep them held in. I was dressed as well for the occasion as one could be: black shirt, black pants, black Converse, black trench coat, and a blood red tie. I gnawed at my lip ring, and kept my hands shoved in my pockets.
I was unwavering with the appearance that I was calm and collected. If only they could see inside me that was shredding every ounce of who I was and what I thought I knew apart. The emotions tried to consume me. I did not have time to grieve. I had to put on the strong soldier face that I'm infamous for. Stay Strong. Stay Calm. I awkwardly made my rounds to see the family members and mutual friends. My lips were badly chapped and I couldn’t stop chewing at my lip ring. I was still sick, but I fought that off as well. I am just fine. I have to be fine. If I break then everyone else will fall apart even worse than they already have. I'm the rock. I'm the foundation. I'm the stone. Keep my head up. I hesitantly made my way into that goddamn black mouth of a door, and stopped dead in the hallway. The walls seemed to shift and alter. The door I knew I had to enter, but at the same time, knew I couldn't enter, stared at me with its dead vacant mouth.
The walls were closing in on me and I smelled the death: the rotting stench of fresh flowers mixed with formaldehyde; the overbearing perfume of some of the trendier mourners; the fresh scent of small children that appeared here and there with only a care-free ability that children possess. My jaws hurt from the pressure of being clenched so tightly together since I decided to take a break from trying to rip my lip ring out with my teeth. My hands went into my pockets and I dug my fingernails into the palms of my hands to keep myself in this reality. I sought for the blackout mechanism the body does when it's incapable of dealing with the environment it currently faced.
My body was so sore and my lungs hurt from the horrible sickness I managed to get two days before. I held in the coughs and sneezes. The pain helped keep me attached to the reality. I couldn't run away. I felt hands gently grab my arm, and I felt myself being escorted up the long aisle. That damned aisle where the end was exactly where I didn't want to be. My peripheral vision could make out the pews; all lined up and perfect. Those pews made me angry. I felt my soul screaming and trying to stop my body from the forward motion towards the front of the evil room. I knew my life would be completely different from this point on if I made it to the front. I tried to bite back the panic, fear, pain, and tears that were trying to rip through my masks and come out. I had to maintain control. I clenched my jaws even tighter together and dug my fingernails more deeply into the palms as I came up to the casket. It was surrounded with flowers that smelled so deathly delicious that I almost vomited.
I've never seen a corpse up close before and the fact it happened to be one of my best friends that was viciously ripped out of the world, made me wish I had been able to keep up the trend of ignorance as far as corpses go. The dead never just look asleep. I refuse to buy that bullshit. They look fake. Their skin is this contagious pale color, and their features are somehow changed. Peace? Maybe. I don't know. It was foreign, and the body that was lying in that box was not my friend. It was an alien that had replaced her the moment the last breath escaped her lips. I knew this was fake. It was wrong, so therefore it couldn't be real. I heard the sobs from her parents and some of our closer friends. I felt the bottom of my heart drop out, and the vomit rising in the back of my throat. I swallowed hard and limply held whomever was closest in an effort to comfort. Her dad clung to me, and his almost famine-induced skeleton covered with scarce bits of skin dug into me. I had no comfort in me, but I held firm. The pain in my jaws as excruciating, and so was the nails digging into my palms. I wondered absently if I was bleeding yet. It really didn't matter. The pain kept me from going away. It was all I could hold on too.
I drifted in and out this way until the sermon started and everyone took their appropriate seats. I think I was rocking back and forth. The preacher kept talking, and made me so angry. I didn't realize I almost stood up to punch him, scream, or something until I felt the pressure of my mom's hand grabbing my arm and I eased back into my seat. I started gnawing on my lip ring again. The pain had to make me come back to reality, the reality where I wasn't at this funeral. The reality where I could go over to her house at any given time and she'd be there and we'd laugh, the reality where my friends weren't murdered. The reality where all was well in my life and the people I cared about went on living full and healthy lives. I couldn't be in the reality I was being forced to face where close friends die young because of bad choices. In some ways, I was angry at her. She knew what the man she loved was capable of, he threatened her with it regularly. How could she just stay until he finally made good on it? I tried to let go of that thought. She just didn’t know better, and it was with that thought that the fear overwhelmed me: it could have been me. It couldn't be this way for me, and it shouldn’t have been this way for her. Finally, the sermon was over after what seemed like an eternity. I walked briskly outside and started coughing. I thought angrily to myself “This damn cold or flu or whatever the hell it is,” anything to break the thoughts that were trying to leak into my consciousness. I have to go home. I can't watch the box with the alien that used to be my friend thrown into the ground and covered with dirt. I go home and decide that vodka will make this reality go away to the real reality that is much better than this one. It doesn't do any such thing of course. I decide I need to be distracted. I put on a black skirt instead of my black pants and wrap up tightly in my trench coat. I drive to where I work and start looking for the one person that, at the time, made my life makes a bit more sense. He helped tie me down to the reality that I didn't want because I wanted him so that made this reality somehow easier to swallow. There he was; dressed beautiful as ever and the moment I saw him, I just wanted to break down in his arms and cry. I still couldn't do that. I know he wouldn't know what to do. I held firm and he slipped his arms around me as I stood in front of him. My heart screamed to be heard, and I muffled it without thinking twice. I made some small talk, possibly even a joke, I don't really remember. He tightened his grip and kissed me softly on my chapped and somewhat sore (at least as far as my lip ring was concerned) lips. I managed a smile and I saw the shadows pass behind his eyes. I knew this part of reality was soon to pass as well. I said goodbye and we said we would talk later. As I walked back out to my car, I felt everything in me crumbling. I unlocked the door with an unsteady hand, and as I slid into my car, the tears ripped out of me. The mask had fallen, and I knew that nothing would ever be the same again.
My name is Carina Allison and I'm 24 years old. I've lived in Georgia most of my life, but I've traveled around a bit. I write because I have too. I have an internal beast that has to be satisfied by writing so I do it to tame the beast and please the muse.
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