Family, Fiction, Relationship and marriage, Writing

Barry’s Funeral

He’s no longer in pain.

It’s better this way.

He fought a great fight.

It was inevitable.

These are all phrases that Sylvia hears as she makes her way to the front of the chapel. They grind against her grief like crunching gears. Oh, she knows they mean well, but people have no idea how to handle someone else’s loss. They murmur sympathetic platitudes to fill the void.

She sits alone. They had no children. Her own family long dead. Oddly, the space around her is a bubble, one where she can pretend this is not happening to her. Sylvia closes her eyes; her mind travels to their early courtship days.

A tap on her shoulder interrupts her reverie. Turning, Sylvia looks directly into the eyes of her neighbour, Henry Burke.

‘Dear Sylvia,’ he says. ‘I’m terribly sorry for your loss. Our perfect street won’t be the same without Barry.’ He pats her hand while she grits her teeth. Waits for it. ‘How will you keep his garden as pristine? He was the gardener. I’ve never once seen you pruning or weeding.’

Sylvia contemplates many varied responses to Henry’s questions, most of them would be considered rude in any company. Certainly Barry would be ashamed if he were here, if he could read her mind. Instead, she smiles and says, ‘Oh Henry, I’ll manage just fine. But thank you for your concern.’

Henry takes a seat in the pew directly behind her. She can feel his breath on his neck. A tight knot forms in her stomach; it’s heavy, burdensome. Coupled with her grief as the funeral takes place, it’s too much for her. The desire to run overwhelms.

But she was raised to face whatever life throws her, so she remains seated; her spine ramrod straight, her hands rest in her lap. Her skin is an uncomfortable coat that she’s desperate to shake off—it’s prickling with all her emotions.

When it’s over, mourners rush to her. Offer a cup of tea, slice of cake. She wants none of that. Just Barry. Only Barry. Instead, she’s a lone bird, existing in the crowd, without her life mate.

Photo by Luciani K. on Unsplash

4 thoughts on “Barry’s Funeral”

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