I felt swollen, like the paunchy June flies that buzzed around us as if they were looking for the corpse. People would later describe it as a lovely service. They flowed around me like the thick air, whispering around me, as if I was the one who had died. Sweat dripped down my back, stuck to my stiff black dress. I tried again in vain to quell the feeling of suffocation as I waved the funeral pamphlet into my face, but to no avail.
One fly on my hand. I flicked my finger slowly. It crawled onto the nail and then took off, its fat body struggling to stay in the molten air. The priest was saying something about how eternity was longer than we could imagine. I stared at the earth that had been dug up for him. He lay peacefully in the coffin, forever. I thought briefly of how he should be in a hospital morgue. Somewhere as cold and as empty as he was. He should be anywhere but stuck in that nice warm box, with the company of overfriendly worms.
"Danae," someone said softly. "Tissue?" I turned, dazed, my eyes half open, lips parted in confusion, noticing the other people there for the first time. I was trying to locate who had offered the tissue.
Fat great-aunts, sitting cross legged with sweat clinging to their nylon stockings, gout-plagued feet squeezed into small heels. Their makeup was melting slowly off of their wrinkles. Thin men, clammy hands clasped, trying to think of something other than how unbearable it was to be standing in the heat.
My eyes finally fell on a person, dressed in black of course, apart from the clan. Standing in the shade. Smart of him. Light auburn hair, rippling across his head. I turned away from him. My breaths were measured as I finally located the kind benefactor that had offered the tissue. I attempted a smile. I failed.
Sweat ran down my temple and collected at the nape of my neck. I didn't fan myself. I stared straight ahead, brown hair matted, thick lips barely parted. Staring blankly. I felt as though my freckles might slip off of my face. My blood was hot, but it was running nowhere.
The charade was complete. Now what?