Sunday, January 15, 2017

Early Departure (Flash Fiction)

The January sun beat down on me, descending through the slim gap between my reflective sunglasses and my burnt forehead, making them redundant despite the fact they allowed me to hide my newly reddened eyes.

The small coffin was now in the rear of the champagne coloured hearse, the funeral parlour attendants laying the flowers from deep within the chapel around the sun drenched casket, bruising the already dying petals of magnificent purple blooms.

The rendered wall behind me, now warmed by the hot sun, felt as rough and unrelenting as how I felt; the child that lay in the hearse born only eight years prior. Her father's gravelly voice had described his love for her, and her love of reading. She had loved books, yet now the stack of Billie B. Brown books would sit beside her bed, forever to remain unread by her.

My heart tenses and a woman audibly gasps as someone mentions the young girl was a talented violinist. She had won awards. A television at the front of the chapel buzzes to life, glowing with visions of the young girl facing away from the bleak crowd at her funeral holding a violin with maturity beyond her meagre calendar years. Perfect tempo. Poise. Patience as she she oscillates the the squeaking bow.

Now outside, the notes of her melody hung in the light-filled air. I couldn't help but feel a profound sense of dysphoria, as if the few shrill notes from the violin, paired with the wilting floral sprays and mahogany coffin were part of some eerie, macabre operatic scene.

I was struck by a sense of importance, sweat running down my sides as I stood aside to let people past, to stand together in mournful silence. Crushed African daisies in the garden bed below, faces upturned, looked with metaphorical consequence; a small leafed camellia brushing against my left shoulder.

Parent everywhere clutched their children, as if they could stave off the long arm of death that had taken the young person just meters away if they held on tight enough.

And yet again, a thought struck me - these sunglass, car key clutching parents had once been children too. Time, like money, meant nothing really; just an idea, a concept used in a very human attempt to add value and measure infinite nothingness. Life and death, energy and matter cycling for time eternal.

The noisy exhaust of the hearse erupts and the scene closes with no applause.

- Nathan van der Monde

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