Funeral: Viewpoint of the Deceased
Funeral: Viewpoint of the Deceased
Sophie is finally being laid to rest, and as she watches over her funeral, she can't decide whether she's quite sad or relieved to be free. Thankful to be away from troublesome family, but still longing for a few others, Sophie is faced with whatever eternity follows in the great beyond.2
Paranormal fiction / Magic realism
Kayla Thornton (United States)
Jackson came up next. He stood over my body, stoic and calm in his mourning. No one saw him brush my hand with his. He had loved me once.
Next was Mr. and Mrs. Hatfield. They had known me since I was a little girl, had babysat for my ill attentive mother on several occasions. Mr. Hatfield’s grey brow was wrinkled with sadness, tears rolling down his big, red nose as Mrs. Hatfield looked down at me with something like relief in her eyes.
“She’s not suffering anymore, Charlie. She’s alright,” my surrogate family gave me one last glance before returning to their hard metal seats in the graveyard. My Aunt Nikki and Uncle Thomas made a big show of crying in front of me. Uncle Thomas dragged his acting wife away from the coffin, screaming “She’s gone too soon!” ‘You never wanted me here’ I thought to myself. Then She came up.
I swear to you, whoever you are, I have never seen this girl in my whole life, ever ever ever. She was short, with thick brown hair and grey eyes. She wore a black dress that stopped above her ankles, with Dr. Martens and a wide brimmed hat like the ones women wear to church. I could tell something was up because she was the only person smiling. No one seemed to notice her, they simply thought she was a friend from school. Thing is I didn’t have any friends. Besides Jackson. Sort of. Anyway.
“What an awful thing to be buried in,” she mumbled as she approached me. Her lace gloved hand ghosted over the fabric of my dress, her eyes moving from my folded hands to my breasts to my blank face. She leaned in too close, her brown curls brushing my cold cheek. She kissed my cheek, this stranger who had sat two rows behind everyone else and hummed during my funeral. “You know I can see you.”
For the first time since I’d left my body I felt afraid. She was still facing the coffin, and I wondered if she was actually speaking to me. I hovered just a few inches above the dewy ground behind her, my bare feet still slightly numb. I pressed closer, tentatively.
“Well, hello there,” she spun gracefully on her heel to face me, eyes gleaming. The funeral was ending and people were oblivious to the two of us. She tilted her head slightly to the right, squinting at me. “You’re Sophie.”
“Are.” I frowned. The girl in front of me smirked; it made her face seem somewhat deceitful. “Being dead doesn’t mean you aren’t yourself. Loss of life is not loss of identity.” She paused for a moment. “Elle. People call me Elle. Follow me,” she walked opposite of everyone else; talking to her, I hadn’t noticed that the funeral had ended. My mother hadn’t even bothered to speak.
She led me off of the funeral grounds, into the trees that lined them to the far left. Funny, graveyards always had woods to match. The evening was starting to set in around us, the rain turning cold and they atmosphere soaking up the growing darkness. It seemed like a good thirty minutes of just trees and cold and rain. Then finally, we came to a rundown house that was as muck brown as the surrounding trees. I stopped in the yard, hoping she’d give some sort of explanation. But she trotted up the rotting porch steps, swung open the front door, and stepped inside.
‘Maybe you should leave….this is strange….you don’t even know her.’ I weighed my options in my head. I could just wander back to the graveyard, mope, wander some more. Elle popped her head out of the door.
“Well, don’t just stand there! Come on!” I let my feet touched the ground, and walked steadily up the porch and into the house.
It wasn’t nearly as run-down inside as you’d think. I followed Elle up the stairs, watching her pick things up, toss them down, tuck a few things under her arm. ‘This must be where she lives.’
“Take a seat at the mirror and we’ll get you all done up.” She pushed open the door to what must’ve been her bedroom and started tossing clothes around and grabbing bottles and jars from the dresser. I sat in front of a massive mirror with sculpted metal bordering the dusty glass. My skin looked like a washed out version of its former self, but my cheeks were not hollowed out and my eyes were still where they used to be.
“A little of this and a bit of that and you’ll be good,” she lifted my chin and started to smear lipstick on my lips. I wasn’t a fan of lipstick, but I think I was too fluster with all this to really object. When she was finished with my face, I still looked dead, but a little warmer than before. Elle emerged from the closet with a mass of violet fabric with a billowing skirt.
“What is that?” Rather than answering, she tossed the dress at me and disappeared into the closet once again.
“If you’ll just play along, I’ll explain.”
‘Why not?’ I unzipped the dreadful pink chiffon. Good riddance.
“So are you going to explain now?” Elle fluffed her bushy brown curls in the mirror. She wore an equally beautiful low-sleeved black dress. She sauntered over to the door and spun to face me.
“I am your guardian, guardian angel, you could say. And this,” She swung open the door, revealing a throng of elegantly dressed people, all waving and smiling widely at me; they were all dead,” is your party. Welcome, dear Sophie, to the Afterlife.” The crowd in the hall began to cheer and clap, and it sounded as though there were others down stairs.
“Welcome, Sophie, darling!” And for the first time in so many long years, I smiled. I actually, truly, genuinely smiled. I felt something in me give way; suddenly this wasn’t so bad anymore. This was not at all an end to being ‘Sophie’. My identity, my being, would endure in this life. An Afterlife.
Competition: June 2015 Pen Factor, Round 1
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