Part 1: A girl in silence
I remembered my best friend Lea once saying that life is the most valuable thing you have. She said you need to live it to the fullest because it’s the only one you have, and you never know when it’s gonna run out. That was the summer before she found out she was sick. The year before the most valuable thing she had was lost.
Sitting in that room was torture. Beige walls with dull, cream colored curtains on the windows. Pedastalls on each side of the double doors holding vases of flowers. Trying to make the room look a little nicer, happier, but we all knew nothing could make that experience better. How could you make a funeral better than bearable?
There was food on a table in the corner, but no one felt like eating. Everyone was either sitting and quietly talking to others, or standing an quietly talking to others. Or crying, like Lea’s family was doing. Like I should have been doing, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. My family talked with other people throughout the day, sometimes checking in on me, gesturing me to come join the conversation, but I always declined. I just sat and observed Mr. and Mrs. Clarke, Lea’s parents, and her brother, Josh in the corner talking with another couple who looked like they were about to leave. At the same moment, Josh looked my way. Our eyes met, and he flashed a small smile at me that I shyly returned.
I had known Josh for as long as I had known Lea, about ten years. The both shared the same light brown hair and soft green eyes. They looked so much alike, with only a year apart from them. Josh would be going into sophmore year, me into freshman year. My first year in highschool. Without Lea. The thought of that seems impossible.
I looked back down at my black dress, suddenly shy of our encounter. I remembered fifth grade, when I had told Lea about my two year crush on Josh, to which she immediantly ridiculed.
“Eww, that’s so gross, Nat! I can’t have my best friend and my brother dating!”
I immediantly realized how weird it was, liking my best friend’s brother. My feelings for him dissolved almost instantly after that. Throughout middle school he was just like a brother to me too. I saw him almost every time Lea and I hung out, and he sometimes hung out with us too. I was an only child, so it was nice to know what having a sibling felt like. I wondered if those good times would change after this.
I looked up again, not at the people but at the casket. This was the first time I had looked at it. I couldn’t do it when I came in, for fear I would just run back out and not have the strength to come back in. I hadn’t had the strength to look at it all day until now. I stared at the dark brown box containing years of memories and good times. Hundreds of ice cream cones licked on the front steps of her house, thousands of songs listened and danced to in either of our rooms, all the pictures we took on her polaroid camera. Some of them hung up over the casket, where she lay.
One of them was of us, one of them was of her and her family, the rest were nature shots she had taken herself. She wanted to be a photographer when she grew up, if she had grown up. She had always known what she wanted. She always knew exactly who she was; which was the complete opposite of me.
I felt someone take the chair next to me. I moved my eyes slightly up to see Josh next to me, his face covered in sadness.