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Silence hangs suspended in the air.
Dust particles dance to silent music in the spotlight from the window without a single care.
He puts his head in his hands, and she puts her hand on his shoulder.
The TV plays muffled in the background, while the Valentine’s Day flowers sit, still in its wrapper on the kitchen countertop, and the mood grows even colder.
She sits down next to him as he hunches over with an added invisible weight to the world which he holds upon his shoulders.
A heart-wrenching sob is all it takes for the rest of the family to scatter like leaves in the wind.
More sobs. Multiple rooms. The door shuts and the lock clicks with a heavy finality.
Words said repeat over and over in their heads. Cardiac Arrest. Coma. Life support. Pull the plug. Goodbye.
The tone of a phone sounds throughout the silent house. The leaves had wandered aimlessly in the wind and settled in spots around the house, awaiting any news, awaiting the goodbye.
The pounding of feet against the hardwood floor is the heartbeat of the house.
The silence has been broken as someone bolts up the stairs and grabs the phone.
“He’s gone” are the only words she sees. Everything else blurs with the sudden onslaught of tears.
She puts the phone in her mother’s hands and walks up to her room with a greater fear.
She walks into her room and closes her door, catching her own eyes in the mirror. Despair. Blank. Fear. Blank.
Sitting next to her grandparents, she holds her grandma's hand and dabs a tissue under her eyes, her grandma shaking like a leaf with grief. After too many seconds, too many minutes, too many hours, its time to put him to rest. It’s time to say goodbye.
She walks up to the dark coffin; to the man in the suit. An involuntary shiver runs through her causing goosebumps on her skin.
It’s almost like there is an imposter in that coffin. The waxy appearance, the pallor of his skin.
She wishes it was a wax figure from Madame Tussauds; any figure, anyone but him.
She hopes confetti will shoot from the ceiling and he will jump out behind the curtain his gold chains swinging and his cool uncle swagger, not the black suit so unlike him.
The pianist changes songs switching to a mellower, more somber tune.
The students at the back start sobbing again, and she lets a few more tears for the already flowing waterfall loose.
The pastor preached and prayed in a bilingual prayer to the promise of a better life. With numb legs and a lump in her throat heart, she helps her grandma stagger up to the coffin to say goodbye. With each step, her heart seems to constrict more and more. Her heart is tight, her footsteps light.
Her eyes track the finality of the closing coffin. Her eyes clamp shut to the dark.
Eyes clamp shut as the thump of the coffin closing fills the room with a weak click.
The Next Morning
As the flames engulf the dark wood of the coffin, a singular thought runs through the silent, somber occupants of the crematorium chamber like a shiver. He’s gone. As the dark door draws down to a close, his spirit swirls with the snow and up through the strato into the heavens. He’s gone. And the only one to blame is a faceless terror that takes too many. Cancer.