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Rated: ASR · Fiction · Family · #274426
Finding strength after loss. Written to experiment with symbolism.
She bent to kiss her mother's forehead. Her mother's skin was cold, taut, lifeless beneath her lips, like the feet of the frozen Jesus beside the church's altar. She rushed away from the coffin, escaping the pull of finality. Her celerity across the carpeted floor of her childhood church made her feel as though she floated. She returned to the first pew, her cheeks soaked with tears, her shoulders bouncing as she wept. The hands reaching out to comfort her were icy feathers upon her. Meaningless touches. Nothing like the once warm, firm, gentle touch of her mother's hands.

She was alone, now.

Mourners' sobs and the priest's well-meaning words fell on her deaf ears. Her heartbeat clogged her ears as she watched the lid of her mother's casket shut, barricading what remained of her mother's light in eternal darkness.

She followed alongside her brother, behind the pallbearers, joining the processional to the cemetery. She felt the world's tendrils snaking around her already. The blackened, decayed arms threatened to burst through the church doors as soon as they were opened.

She stumbled on her own footstep and grabbed hold of a pew to regain her balance. Her brother zipped to her side as sighs of concern flowed through the church, mingling with the scent of burnt incense in the air and then dissipating with the heavy-scented smoke. She held onto her brother's arm as they approached the doors. She wanted to turn, run away, and cower behind Mary and Jesus. But their faces remained stolid, unfeeling, even as their outstretched arms beckoned her to the altar. She refused to go to them. They were there, but not for her anymore.

She released her brother as the thick, wooden doors were opened. She felt the eyes of the following mourners burning into the back of her. Light flooded the doorway and spilled into her eyes, clearing her vision and banishing the darkness that lingered at the rear of the church. She stopped to squint.

Her brother reached for her again. She swallowed hard, and refused his hand with an austere shake of her head.

She strode past him, lifting her chin, anticipating the light and warmth of the sun on her skin once again.

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