It takes a lot to take your mind off the death of a parent. A lot is what Jun got. Another redundant day at the factory. Tighten, tighten, tighten, the sight of the riveter burned in her mind. At this time, so deep into the motion of riveting, she was in a sort of trance, a blissful absence of thought for a short time. She wished it would last longer, even though every morning she had to drag her sore body out of bed before the sun had to even in the summer, even though it left her family to deal with their grief alone, and even though she was tearing herself apart.
One of Jun's favorite pass-times was looking at her personality and characteristics, finding what was good, what was bad, and rebuilding herself the way she wanted to be. It was hard to see much good in herself, which was hard on her morale, and the reconstruction process was difficult. Often, she ended up only tearing herself down, and dwelling on the bad things that made her up rather than the better.
What happened at her father's funeral, she did not know, nor would she recall later on more than a blur of what had taken place. It was not tears that blurred her vision and distorted her senses. It was merely her old routine of taking herself apart and putting herself back together. If she focused on what was the here and the now, she wouldn't have to worry about what came after. What her father had or had not had to meet, and what would be there for her. Was there any need to look ahead so far? Jun hoped not. Everything died. Nothing lasted forever.
As an atheist, Jun had to come to terms with dying. There was no evading the day it would come, no hope of continuum for her, only a blunt dead end. The way she looked at it, death was like being surrounded by a darkness you didn't know you were in or seeing. It was like a permanent sleep. She hoped she would be tired and ready to go to that final rest when her time came. She hoped her father had been ready. She envied those who had hope of moving past this painful world of emotions, the confusing universe of loss and dead ends. People who believed that two arms ready to embrace awaited them in their sleep were lucky to be reared that way. There was no way for her to go to that track of mind any more. It was hard for her to even think her dead loved one's could even exist anymore, the thought of a god or anything beyond death was hard to think of. Death was a dead end. If you imagine walking down a road, with a dead end sign some ways down, and the road ends, it'ss not that bad. It's not much different than what people do on their walks around the neighborhood. A stroke of adventurous spirit finds its way out, and gets ready to lead the way. The only thing apart from a walk in your favorite place is there is no turning back.
Whether there were arms waiting to embrace her when she died or not, Jun kept on living, whether it was easy or not. Factory work is notorious for tearing people apart. It distances them from their families by dragging them away for twelve hours at a time, then even more so by keeping them from talking about work. Jun couldn't count how many guns she was making in a day. It didn't make it any easier knowing they would be used to kill someone. If at all possible, she would get out of the factory and enlist herself.
One night when she finally got home, Jun entered the house quietly so she didn't wake her mother and brother. She dragged her feet across the floor, not even bothering to take off her boots at the door. Her foot caught on something soft, and her first thought was a blanket or. . .or her mother lay, sprawled, on the floor. "Mom!", the cry was inaudible but to herself. All her senses were suddenly awakened, she fell to her knees next to her mother, there was no pulse. But there was something wet soaking up her pant legs, and a knife in her mothers hand. She's dead, Jun thought, She's killed herself and left me behind. Then fear shot threw her like she had been splashed with cold water. Was her brother hurt?!
Jun raced down the hall, leaving her mother's corpse laying alone. "AFTON!", she yelled at the heap on the bed.
"Wha-?", muttered her brother sleepily. Relief momentarily replaced her fear, but was shoved aside at the job ahead. She had to deal with her mother. "It's nothing, Afton. Go back to sleep.", Jun whispered caressingly. She would have to tell him later.
A week passed before the police left the house, the investigation closed. But it was still longer until Jun could sleep again. Whether it was her absence, the need to enlist, or her father's death, Jun would never know. All she knew was her mother had killed herself, and it had to be partially her fault. Her mother put up such a strong front, and both of them worked twelve hours at different factories. . .there was no sense in tearing apart her past self, it would do her no good to try and figure out what had been so wrong with her that her mother killed herself, the only thing that mattered was that there was a hole in her chest.
Not much time passed before Jun figured out that she was going to need to work more hours. School was pretty much forgotten. It was hard, demanding work that didn't finish until the hours after the sun set.