Silver Roses

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Sweet, sweet, rotten flowers condemn the room. Scent rises to linger throughout the sorrow thickened air, descending upon me, forcing, ripping, cutting its way into my nasal cavity; down my throat. I choke. Sharpened silence cracks and shatters as I cough and cough and cough; my throat contracts and rejects air and the harsh cough transform into bitter sobs. My head hangs limp, allowing crystals of tears to slide down my cheeks and rain down upon my ghostly white hands clasped in my lap. The pew groans beneath the weight of my shifting father as he extends an arm around my shoulders and shields my naivety with the warmth of his after shave.

Shadowed faces shift in front our pew, twinkling eyes whisper sorry through tear stricken faces. Row by row I study the crystals falling on my limp hands to avoid eye contact. The turn of our pew rushes to greet me and a wall of people gather themselves to their feet, but the pew feels more welcoming to me than the alternative, so I stay. My eyes wonder to find a lonesome long stem rose resting in what was my sister's seat. Its petals gleam silver against the gentle blue sea of fabric beneath.

"Do you want to give that to her" his deep voice caresses softly. Fragrance smothers my speech still, so I nod my head with silent weakness. My hand sets a shaking course towards the silver rose; tiny fingers curl around its elegant stem. My father cranes forward to lift me in the crook of one arm, and together we march towards to front of the room. Pity traces out migration.

The casket stands in isolation on a pedestal at the head of the room. A steady stream of people pour over to peer inside and maybe drop a tear or two. Satin lined edges slopped gently inside towards the angel and where she lay. Without taking my eyes off of the angel I allow my mind to race over out migration. Maybe my rose could wake her up, like Prince Charming's kiss. Maybe my rose could undo the curse of that very Wicked Witch. Misplaced hope causes my fingers to tighten and tighten, and the thorns press and press into my innocent palm, and crimson ink trickles across my finger.

The angel slept in a flowing white gown with sparkling diamonds woven into the fabric; her fingers laced together over the smooth silken dress pulled taunt across her stomach. Nervous and hoping, I extended a ghostly pale arm and rest the rose in the center of the swell of her chest. Panic sinks in as I trace her eyes. Her lashes stood out against her delicate skin as ink upon a page. Just a flutter of a lash and she would wake up. Just a flutter. Angels aren't supposed to die. Dear God please, Angels aren't supposed to die. Icy fingers of panic trance my spine. Desperately I search for the rise and fall, rise and fall, of her chest, but could find none.

I push for my father to put my down; if only I could lie my head next to hers on the satin pillow, but my father just held me tighter, chaining me.

"It's like she just went to sleep," the voice is soothing, but the context, the context disturbs me.

I want to go to sleep. I want to go to sleep. I want to go to sleep.

We begin our migration again, but this time to the door; his arm still held me tightly; my hand throbbing. A wall of warm October evening air hit us, blowing whips of brown ringlets into across my eyes, blurring my vision.

The weather is perfect.





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