"Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there; I do not sleep."
Hearing the trembling voice, Blaze suddenly looked up from the patch of ground that had been the target of his sole concentration since the start of the funeral and felt his heart break as he took in the young girl. She had always been extremely brave. For as long as he could remember, she had been a Firehouse regular and telling every single Fire Fighter that one day she would be joining them as soon as she was old enough. Today was a day for bravery to truly show.
Tears were not an option, not today.
Today they were burying the young girl's father. He was one of the town's eldest Fire Fighters and it meant that he was loved, and was going to be missed, by many. This statement was proven by one glance around the small graveyard that was filled to its capacity and the crowds were still gathered outside the gates. Family, friends and the neighbourhood had come to mourn the life of a true hero – many of whom could state they knew someone who had been saved by him.
This, however, was not what anyone noticed today.
Everyone's was enamoured by Little Lenny; the nickname the Fire Fighters had affectionately dubbed her after her first trip to the Firehouse; and her bravery.
At twelve years old, the young girl looked almost adult standing at the podium in a knee length pencil skirt, a white shirt that was tucked into the high waist and a black and white polka dot cardigan as they had been predicted rain. Her unusual shade of ginger hair; not quite blonde but not quite auburn either; usually tumbled down to her waist in natural waves but today it was pulled back tightly into a bun, revealing her pretty face that was tear stained.
Playing with her fringe had Blaze noticing her intriguing grey eyes were pooled with unshed tears. She was rapidly blinking as if trying to make them disappear so that she could see but it did not prevent her from reading the poem out to the crowd.
Listening to each syllable in her trembling voice, he could not help but wonder whether or not she really believed in what she was saying. He knew that she had not written the poem herself but he could not help but muse. Did she really believe that, despite his death, her father was now somewhere better?
As she read the last line, the tears finally broke free of their barrier and fell down her face causing his heart to break.
How many times had the other Fire Fighters and he, despite his young age, held this small girl in their arms after she had fallen over thanks to one of her many misadventures in the firehouse?
How many times had they kissed away the tears and promised her that everything was going to be alright?
Now, as she stood there trembling and her tears falling fast and heavy, all he wanted to do was reach out and pull her into his arms. His promise of it being okay would now be empty but he knew that she would believe him, just like she had done the many times beforehand.
Every Fire Fighter; including her Father; had often teased Blaze about the unbreakable bond that had formed between he and the little girl. Often, he would sit and wonder why did they have this bond? At twenty two, he was ten years her senior and he could hear the others joke that she obviously did not have a favourite teacher but a favourite Fire Fighter. Most girls believe they are in love with someone older at one point in their life, right? Well it seemed that thanks to her upbringing, she had picked a Fire Fighter to love. It was understandable really. Her biggest hero was a Fire Fighter, so why would she not fall in love with one?
"Baby," he heard the new found widow whisper, her steps tiny and gentle as she moved towards the podium to take hold of her daughter. Running her fingertips along the girl's cheekbones, she removed the tears with the pads of her thumbs before pressing a tiny kiss against her cheek. The action did not hinder the tears, if anything it increased them. Wrapping her arms around her Mother's waist, she buried her face into her chest and just allowed her sobs to carry out.
Despite trying to be quiet, Blaze knew that he would have been able to comprehend her following sentence even if a brass band was playing. "Why couldn't they rescue him too, Mummy?" The words were not meant to be malicious but Blaze felt each one as if she had stabbed him in the heart.
It was their job to save men, women and children from fires. How many townsfolk had Old Lenny rescued during his time as a Fire Fighter?
It had been saving someone that had caused them to lose Old Lenny in the first place.
They had been called to a fire and as soon as Old Lenny had heard that a young girl was trapped on the top floor, he had raced in without a moment of hesitation or thought about his own safety. They all knew why and understood. If it had been his precious daughter stuck on that floor he would have wanted them to have all made the same rash decision as he did, and they would have. If you were willing to save his little girl then this little girl was just as important, if not more so. Sadly, the young girl had died on route to the hospital while Old Lenny had never made it out of the building.
Little Lenny was hushed by her Mother, her hand stroking the girl's hair before whispering that she missed him too but it was nobody's fault, especially not his fellow Fire Fighters.
The crowd watched in silence as the Union Jack flag was taken from the coffin and neatly folded into a triangle before being handed over to the widow over Little Lenny's head by Captain O' Leary. As he saluted her, she allowed her own tears to fall as she leant in and pressed a kiss against his cheek. She thanked him for being there, for everyone having been there for her and Little Lenny today. Even if Old Lenny had not received a funeral fit for a hero, everyone would have shown up anyway to send him off. He was a hero; no matter what situation he died in; and deserved recognition for that, especially today.
The shrill cry of bagpipes began and eventually they started playing the beautiful sound of Amazing Grace. Blaze watched as the young girl slipped her hand into that one of her Mother's as they started walking out of the graveyard, leaving everyone behind him. The tears had tried up, her head being held high as she remembered that she had to remain strong for her Mother.
With one last look over her shoulder at the coffin, she turned to look forward and her eyes caught Blaze's for a quick moment, lingering for longer than intended, before she eventually turned back to the front. Even in that brief moment, Blaze could hear her silent accusation: Why could you not save him too?
Well I know I usually wait until I've completely finished a NaNo story before I upload it but impatience seems to have swept through my friends so I decided to join in. Sadly, I'm not a NaNo winner this year but this is my attempt! I hope you all had better luck than I did!