Life and death in the cold air

Funerals are hard at the best of times – this one was particularly cruel. The church, an over large concrete structure, was chilled and morgue-like. The extras to the drama filed in, blank faced or grim, dragging their limbs to the pews. All around the hastily assembled 50 shades of mourning, style was the last of considerations as we were called to witness, called to supply mute and numb support.

The service seemed coldly ritualistic, with no trace of human empathy, the words empty of connection to the girl at the altar, devoid of emotion. The actors took their cues woodenly, their timing was off by a beat so the ceremony dragged. And yet, beneath this frozen surface glistened anger…diffused by its lack of single direction. It was not visible, and yet it was there.

The parents walked like ghosts to the coffin and laid a bible to rest. The gulf between them and the gathered congregation at that moment as absolute as a child watching footage of the moon landings, visible to the eye but incomprehensible to the viewer in its enormity. Their faces wore the lines of nightmares that had embossed their daylight hours.

We walked out into the Wintry sunshine, sharp eye-watering brightness, with the smell of incense in our nostrils and the sound of unanswered questions in our ears. A beautiful girl, gone. And we turned and walked away because we could.

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