“It never is.” Kevin got up, eyes still on his shoes, and left. His lessening shape moved into his room – a featureless, grey box – and the door silently slammed.
“It’s been five years, Kevin! Let it go!”
No answer. Janet fell into her chair – why was she bothering? She knew that she would get absolutely nothing out of her brother. Especially after all this time – five years. I mean, she told herself, I’ve moved on, moved past it, in this time. She paused, and added, Have I?
The picture of mum was still on the mantelpiece, grinning from one end of the marble to the other. It had only occurred to them after this time that it was as false, like the little gold statues clustered on the other end of the surface.
The presence of the photo seemed to put the idea in the back of Janet’s mind that her mother was someone who still lived there. She was just at work, a little voice told Janet. She’ll be back soon.
She’d avoided going to the funeral, and hadn’t even cried.
Janet left without telling Kevin, who wouldn’t have acknowledged the goodbye, anyway. It was about an hour to the cemetery, and she wasn’t even sure if this was the right one – all that she knew was it was the closest. Mum didn’t like going too far from the house, she remembered.
As far out as it was, it wasn’t the largest. The tiny cluster of headstones could have easily been enshrouded at once, if the sun hit the modest chapel from a certain direction. White flowers grew to form a square border, thickening the boundaries of the cemetery and making it look even smaller.
A grey wind threw Janet’s hair forwards.
“Can I help you, miss?”
A young priest emerged from the shade, robe flowing in the strengthening gusts, ginger curls bouncing.
“Yes,” replied Janet. “I’m looking for my mother. Well, where she was buried.”
She stepped out into the garden, looking over every faded word to find her mother’s name. It didn’t take long until she was standing before a particularly white stone at the edge of the floral border, displaying her mother’s name. She stood staring at it, trying to comprehend that her mother was no longer with her, going through every possible explanation in a dazzling feat of mental gymnastics.
Her mother was not alive.
Her mother was in the ground.
Her mother was buried.
Her mother no longer is.
Her mother was gone.
Something in the back of her mind rejected the thought with a simple ‘no’. It was then when she realised that she, like Kevin, had not let go. She was simply ignoring it.
“Are you alright?” asked the priest.
“I don’t know.” Janet replied.
“It’s okay to not be sad.” He said. Janet turned around, shocked.
“How did you know?”
“I see the same thing often; people think that if they don’t cry, they haven’t moved on.” He paused. “I honestly have nothing else to do but watch people come and go.”
“But I just… I don’t know, I can’t comprehend that she’s dead.”
“No pressure,” was all he mumbled, and went back into the chapel.
She saved the grief for another time.