Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Isabelle



Funerals are dreary events that mourning people subject other mourning people to. And the latter party has to go in order to show respect to the recently lifeless man, woman or child. Funerals are filled with the sounds of weeping, of half-hearted courage and unsteady breaths. Funerals are abundant with the scents of flowers and fresh clothes. Funerals consist of black and white people taking slow and steady steps as not to collapse from their own internal agony. Those men in black suits plaster on a stoic expression to temporary conceal their grief so they can console their other halves that are using up packets and packets of tissue. Funerals are saltwater pools. Each memory brought forth regarding the dead person is a small stone that is tossed lightly into the puddle and the ripples are the effects it has on the people. Funerals are unavoidable because everybody dies sometime and you're likely to know and care for a lot of people. I could come up with a million ways to describe this dismal scene, a trillion theories to explain it. And yet I knew for certain that if I opened my mouth, nothing but air would escape from it.

I felt a warm hand on mine. I looked over to see Nicole smiling ruefully. She was smiling the kind of smile that someone might wear to coax a smile out of someone else. There. Another thing funerals had. Fake smiles by real people experiencing real pain. Nicole squeezed my hand in encouragement. I eyed her for a second, forcing myself to take in her intelligent green eyes, blonde wavy hair and little black dress. I saw the pure innocence in those eyes and the sincere concern. Still, I couldn't bear it for long. I pulled my hand back and stuffed it into my pocket because I started to see what she wasn't. She didn't have endless black eyes. She didn't have brown hair.

She wasn't Isabelle.

"I'm so sorry. I know you cared about her," Nicole said quietly. I gave her a nearly imperceptible nod. I didn't bother whether she detected it or not. I felt the blood rushing up to give my face a little bit of color. It felt like it had been pale forever. Yes. I cared about Isabelle.

The minutes dragged and each passing second was harder. I tried to keep my emotions at bay but they were threatening to overflow, to pummel me, to leave me breathless and insignificant as rubble. Was this finally it?

"Spencer Chase?" A voice snapped me out of my abstraction. "Young man? Would you like to say a few words to honor Isabelle? I understand she was close to you." This was true. Everyone knew Isabelle and I were best friends. I rose unsteadily and trudged to the front. I stopped by her coffin and mustered the courage to peer inside. Most people would think that they prefer not to see their loved one still, lifeless and cold because they wouldn't want that to be their last memory of the person. But for me, I had to see her. I had to see her alabaster skin even paler; so pale it looked translucent. I had to see her eyes shut and never opening again. I had to see so I could tell myself that this was real. Because I could never imagine such an image. Having this image in my head kept me holding onto reality. I couldn't help thinking that she looked so kind and beautiful even in death.

"Spencer?" I barely heard it. The collective whispers of the crowd seemed to fade into something farther than the background as well. There was just Isabelle and me. Then there was just me and my agony.

The next thing I knew? I was running fast, pushing my lungs and limbs far beyond what they should be capable of executing. I ran several blocks without pausing to take a breather. I ran until my heart felt like it would burst through my chest and land on the pavement. I loosened the tie around my neck and undid the first button. I kept running as if I could outrun the tragedy. When I stopped I was in an alley. My inhalations were shallow and my vision, blurry. My brain was fogged, my memory numb. A different kind of pain shot through my body, originating from my heart. I pressed my back against the wall and slowly sank to the ground. Here is good, I thought. Nobody would see me break down in here. I felt the tears trickle calmly down my cheeks. There was one thing nobody there knew about Isabelle. She was my girlfriend. She loved me. I loved her.

And then there in that alley there was just my agony. Because it had swallowed every part of me.