I twirled the stem of a freshly-picked white daisy between my thumb and forefinger.
White daisies have always been my favorite flower. As an avid lover of all things simple, a flower with pure white petals as soft as velvet and a delicate splash of yellow in the middle was perfect in my eyes. The simplicity of the plant—that was often overlooked by those who appreciated more complex beauty—was the exact thing that drew me near it. When richer hues decorate those thin petals, that's when my love for daisies halts abruptly.
A breeze passed and ruffled the hem of my black skirt. The soft fabric caressed my bare legs and I was reminded of the self-consciousness my chosen outfit induced. I allowed myself to dwell on how uncomfortable, how awkward I felt wearing a skirt because I didn't want to linger on why exactly I had to wear it.
I watched the whirling blur of white and yellow as my fingers rolled over the flower stem.
A man was talking but to say I heard a word he uttered would be a lie. I have been to these sort of things before—each one was the same. At this point of time, I didn't see the necessity of listening, especially when this particular occasion had hit close to home. It would only remind me of why I was there and I was content with feigning blissful ignorance.
The one thing I was unable to tune out was the crying. It seemed to have broken through my eardrums and plant itself deep within my brain so trying to force the sound from reaching my ears was impossible. The cries echoed in the darkness of my cranium and with each heaved sob and strangled wail, I was reminded of why I was here.
Reluctantly I lifted my gaze to lay it on the casket before me—only a little. I could still see the grass curling from the ground and the unoccupied grave waiting for the body to be lowered into its darkness. I didn't want to look higher—I wasn't sure if I could before the tears blocked my vision. The back of my eyeballs were already prickling, I knew they would come. My throat began to tighten but I swallowed and inhaled deeply through my nostrils to calm myself. The smell of dirt did little to help.
I redirected my gaze to the contrasting white flower in my hand.
I heard the closing of a book and lifted my head. People were beginning to leave, black clad bodies were departing and yet, I remained where I stood. It was over—it was time to leave. I watched them go.
The casket sat behind me, hauntingly. My spine tingled at the thought and I turned my head towards where it was being lowered into the ground. I allowed myself to think the unthinkable—to remind myself of why I was there.
Benjamin was nestled in there, with dark rich cushions cradling his stiff, cold body. His curious brown eyes were closed shut forever and I would never see them twinkle mischievously like they would each time he would suggest we do something we weren't supposed to do. He was gone and he had left me here to rot in this world alone.
Without him, that was exactly what I was doing.
My eyes began to burn and I blinked them savagely. He wouldn't want to see me cry. He had always told me how much he hated it, how it made him want to cry. Unshed tears wet my lashes and I willed them not to spill. Please—just dry, not upon my cheeks but where you came from, I pleaded.
I wanted my last moment with Benjamin to be like the others, with me acting as though I hadn't a care in the world and Benjamin knowing exactly what was bothering me, even if I didn't tell him. He had always known, even to this day I do not know how but Benjamin seemed to be aware of what was bothering me before I could put a name to it.
He never let me wallow in its despair long enough for me to know what was wrong.
Someone spoke from behind me. "Are you ready to leave, dear?" they said.
I answered them in my mind and when I opened my mouth to speak the words, my voice failed me. Instead, I only shook my head in the negative.
The casket had begun the descent into its new home and I watched. Soon, the dirt was being piled onto it and still, I watched. If it had been me being deposited into the earth, Benjamin would have stayed the entire time as well but the difference between me and him, he would have allowed himself to cry. Even if he knew I didn't like it as much as he didn't me. But if what my mother always said were true, if the dead were watching over us, I didn't want Benjamin to see a shattered girl who desperately wanted to jump into that grave and embrace his lifeless body, one last time. I wanted him to see the young girl who always had a witty line in tow, who never liked to show that she was vulnerable, even if he saw right through the façade.
At that moment, I knew my attempt at appearing strong was in vain. Even dead, Benjamin would be able to see through it.
I twirled the flower stem between my fingers and wondered if the dead truly did push daisies.