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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Family · #2293251
She saw full chairs where I saw empty ones and spoke to those who couldn't be seen.
My daughter hid her little face against my hip. I rubbed her shoulders, attempting to guide her to the front row of my mother’s funeral.

Allie wouldn’t budge and whimpered when I moved.

“Honey.” I crouched before her.

Her hands clamped over her face.

I said. “It’s okay. We’re saying goodbye to Nana. She loved you very much.”

Back and forth her head swung.

Time for another tactic. “What’s wrong?”

Glistening brown eyes peeked between her fingers. She whispered, “There are too many people here.”

My gaze wandered over the small handful already sitting in the white chairs. Exasperation filled me. “Baby-girl, there’s barely anyone here yet.”

“No, there’s too many.” She waved chubby fingers at the chairs. “They’re full. Even Papa’s here. He’s sad too.”

Studying the empty chairs, I said, “Papa’s gone, sweetie. He can’t be here.”

Allie nodded, pointing to a chair up front. “Yes, he is. He’s sitting right there. He’s crying.”

Confused, I said, “Well, we need to sit, too.”

“Where? There’s too many people. All the seats are taken.” She hid her face in her hands again.

Not sure I was handling this right, I reached over and moved her hands. “Maybe you can ask them to share.”

Her fingers tucked into mine. When we reached the front row, she asked the empty chairs, “Can we sit here, please?” After a few moments, she said, “They moved.”

We sat down in front of the coffin. It didn’t seem real.

Allie let out a gasp.

“What?” I asked.

“They left. Everyone. Nana left with Papa. He’s not sad anymore.”

I didn’t know what to make of her words but somehow, they made me feel better, like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I hugged her and we waited for the service to begin.
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