I was in a large hall, a place I didn’t recognize with a high ceiling and ornate wood detail covering every surface. The smell of flowers hung heavy and pungent in the air. The hall was mostly empty, except for a few people gathered in the front, where I could see most of the flowers overflowing from some sort of table. There was music floating dimly from hidden speakers in the ceiling, setting a somber mood.
My feet felt frozen to the floor, but when I looked down, past the long, black silk gown I was wearing, they looked ordinary, in black sandals. Hesitating only an instant, I forced myself to move forward, as though I was propelled by some unseen force to the front of the hall.
As I drew closer, I realized that there weren’t a few people standing in the front, there were only three. A dark haired boy and a blonde girl and boy. Even from behind I could tell they were all beautiful, though they hung their heads, and I couldn’t see their faces.
I drew closer, close enough to hear their hushed voices, and the hitch in the words of one of the boys. Was he crying? I wondered.
Finally, just feet from them, I recognized the dark haired boy. My breath caught in my throat, which constricted so tight that I couldn’t have forced words through it.
Everett! I wanted to cry. His eyes were red and raw, and his voice sounded ravaged, brimming with misery. The blonde girl—Kelsey, I realized, had her arm around his shoulders, in a show of Comfort. Chase stood next to them, head dipped, his lips moving silently as though he were praying.
Finally, I tore my eyes away from Everett, unable to speak, to offer him comfort, and unable to move though my insides were screaming for him. In front of them was a long table, which called to me like a light house in a storm. I couldn’t stop myself from moving towards it, even when just a second before, my feet had been rooted in place.
I moved through the group, but none of them looked up or acknowledged me. I was invisible— like I didn’t exist. I stopped just in front of the table; the smell of flowers overwhelmed me.
My eyes drifted downward, though I ordered them not to, because I knew I did not want to see whatever was on the long table in the giant hall. A feeling of dread stole into my stomach and crawled up my throat.
But, I looked anyway, taking in the person that lay in the coffin. Her skin was thin and papery, shriveled like a grape left in the sun. Her hair was long and white, pulled into a low pony tail. Her eyes were glued shut, as were her lips, which were turned upward, as though the smile lines that radiated from the corners of her mouth held them that way. I wanted to reach out and touch her, see if her skin felt as crinkly as it looked.
Who are you? I wondered, and why is Everett crying for you?
On top of the coffin was a picture of me and Everett, it looked so recent, like it could have been taken today. Our arms were around each other, and he had a triumphant grin on his face.
I ran my fingertips across the polished wood, stopping when they dipped into the sharp edges of an engraving.
‘Onnaleigh Gallo. Beloved.’ it read.
My chest constricted, as I now looked upon my face, withered and faded. Reaching out, I touched her—touched me, and fell inside.