Such a Tragedy by Hodan Essa (Lucent Dreaming Issue 10)

I put on my black dress with slow, robotic movements and roll on the matching gloves that reach my elbows. Its delicate fabric scratches my over-exfoliated hands; they are taking longer than I wanted to heal, the damage evident in the way my skin has started to crack. I hate funerals. An entire day dedicated to a passing as though people needed the reminder that someone was dead.

My pearl necklace rests on the corner of my desk. I pick it up gently as though the slightest movement could shatter it. The gems are a kind of white that makes the snow falling silently outside seem faint in colour and I carefully hook it around my neck. The flakes sprinkle over the flowers in our- no… in my garden like iced sugar. The sight roots me in place as though I have become another one of its roses with blood-stained petals and painful, piercing, puncturing thorns. This used to be his and now it’s mine. Just mine. All mine.

The chatter of people paying their respects drifts up the stairs. It soon becomes background noise as someone calls my name and insists we should get going. I sigh.

We arrive and I want to leave. They bury themselves into one another’s shoulders for the one to be buried underground. They pat my arm and say their pieces. I think it’s intended to bring me comfort.

“I am so sorry for your loss.”

“He had so much life left in him, how could this happen?”

“You must be in so much pain, call me if you need anything.”

I don’t need their comfort. I just wish they’d leave me alone.

I place on my sunglasses to cover as much of my face as possible. I think I am expected to cry. They peer at me when they pull away from a strained hug, staring longer than comfortable for any signs. I mask a scoff for a sob. They must think they’re being discreet. I keep my head down as though I am overcome with grief, my lips refusing to be coaxed open by their words. Thankfully, this forces them to move on.

I enter a room and I don’t even have time to admire the place because my eyes have found what they have been searching for. I touch the pearls on my neck and bury my face in the handkerchief to satisfy those persistent, prying eyes. For the first time in my life, I hate the attention.

The coffin is placed on the table, open casket at my request. A spilt vial of ink forms around it as they say goodbye to a man who can no longer reply. Someone tries to steer me to my seat at the front while saying more boring and unoriginal phrases. I know they must think it’ll be too much for me, the sight too cruel, too painful, too traumatising but I pull my arm back. I don’t want to be moved. I want to see it for myself.

I am starting to get impatient. The people in front of me take too long and speak too much and I cannot keep this dry handkerchief over my face forever. I am about to push in front of the last person when they finally move, leaving in a weeping mess. I seize my opportunity, and now I can make out the body. There is only me and him as I turn my back on everyone else, basking in the sound of their cries because it reinforces what I am about to see. I am barely able to contain myself as I lower the handkerchief.
I look at the extraordinarily still body.

I blink. I blink again. I rip off my sunglasses. I rub my eyes until it hurts. I open my eyes.

My stomach turns and I cling to the edge of the coffin for support. Someone tries to offer me their hand, but I shove them away.

The body remains as still as it was, its face unmoving.

Only there is one grave problem. It isn’t the right face.

Buy issue 10 today.
Lucent Dreaming is an independent creative writing magazine publishing beautiful, imaginative and surreal short stories, poetry and artwork from emerging authors and artists worldwide. Subscribe to Lucent Dreaming now, support us on Patreon and follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

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