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The Chapel

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The rain pounded on the window, loud, and distracting as she watched them carry the

mahogany casket down the stairs outside. It had snowed a few days ago, light, sparkling mounds

lay scattered about the parking lot. Now the new rain slowly melted the piles into an intricate

pattern of swirling tendrils on the asphalt, shifting and swaying as they made their way to the

grave spattered lawn beyond. Pained sobs could still be heard from the chapel to her back, deep

and gasping as they fought for air enough to release the agony building in their chest. She hadn’t

cried. She felt no deep sadness of loss, no movement of her heart at the preacher’s words, just a

blank place in her head where those sorts of feelings normally reside. She turned her back on the

fogged window and the rain-blurred taillights of the retreating hearse to face the warm, cushy

entrance hall. People, all in black, stood slumped against walls or sat in red velvet chairs, staring

at the deep red carpet, or wiping their bright red eyes, or being uselessly comforted by one of

their black-clad companions. They were all clumped together, too afraid of the deep loneliness

pervading the air in those dark, empty, corners. Wide and intricate, the chapel doors stood open

to reveal more soft velvety surfaces and another, more profound group of mourners, those too

burdened by grief to lift themselves from their seats. A woman stood in a circle of her fellows, all

with sad, sympathetic eyes, and warm, comforting hands. She was bent, nearly double, clutching

her middle in her arms, as though trying to hold herself together, as though she were going to fall

apart. Her face was slick and tears cascaded down, leaving dark stains on her plain, black dress.

Someone, one of the circle, reached forward to whisper to her. She looked up, dazed, her eyes

shining as she struggled to focus on the phantom voice in her ear. She nodded, and slowly,

painfully, stood. The girl at the window watched them support the woman through the hall and

out the doors, where the rain still beat its frantic pulse against the earth. The people in the hall

looked up as she passed, a look of sympathy crossing their sorrowed faces before their eyes

returned the solid comfort of the floor beneath them. Slowly, they too began to stand, gather their

things, and leave, umbrellas up against the storm. She was the only one left now, alone with the

warm, velvety room before her, and the dismal chill of rain at her back. The silence of the room

pressed on her eardrums as she turned to face the glass. There was no more snow left. The rain

had washed it away, leaving nothing but glittering, black concrete. She parted with the window

and headed for the doors. She walked out letting the rain cleanse her, make her glitter too.





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