5. The Sadness

The funeral was on a Saturday morning. The sky was an iron grey, looking as if the earth itself had lost someone. There wasn’t a beam of sun or a speck of blue showing through the thick ominous clouds. The winds were soft yet cold and bit at my skin. People were gathered, as still as the statues themselves. Even the headstones looked more alive than the mourners. Amongst them was the mayor, who was a 6’8”, quite imposing looking gentlemen of Jamaican-Chinese descent, and a long time friend of my father.  I also saw Jonathan’s two friends, Susan and Tiffany, both devastated and sharing the loss of their close friend. I was surprised that they came, but understood why. The ground beneath was so soft and muddy I thought I would sink beneath it. But as if that wasn’t enough, the skies began to cry and tears rained down from the clouds. I put my hood on so they wouldn’t mingle with my own.

As the priest recited his little prayers and scripture, I began to wonder why all this was happening. Why was I having those dreams? Why was I changing? Why did I lose my little brother? Why? I didn’t know what to believe and what not to believe. I didn’t know if I should take this priest seriously as to what he was saying, or if I should ignore him and dismiss his parables as lies. I didn’t want to believe. I hated it. I hated faith and this whole religion thing. I wanted to go right up to that priest and tell him to shut the hell up and take that book and shove it. But as much as I didn’t want to believe, and despite all the anger that I had towards this so called God, something told me that all this had a purpose. There was a reason behind this, all part of some greater scheme. But that just made me angrier. Did this scheme had to take my brother, a mere child who had hardly begun to taste life, accomplish a goal let alone create one. I wanted to leave this place, this graveyard, this place of death and sadness.

At that thought, I stood up and walked away down a path to the limo. My father, who was sitting next to my aunt, noticed me leave but didn’t follow. Whether he understood my pain or just didn’t care, I‘ll never know. He remained seated and watched me leave. Chris and Al were also there and when they saw me take my leave they decided to come along. Although they didn’t realize it at the time, both of them had become closer friends to me. I remembered how Jonathan especially liked Al, mostly because Al could show him things on the ball court that were way out of my league. I was so glad that they came. They were the only family I had now.

I saw Monique there as well. At the time I didn’t understand why she had come, but the thought never really occurred to me. My mind was somewhere else. When she saw us depart she quickly but subtly said good buy to my dad and ran after us, holding her purse as her long, black dress flailed behind her heels. She caught us just as we were getting into the car. “You’re just gonna leave, just like that?” she said.

“Yeah. I can’t stand this place any longer,” I replied.

“But… what about your dad?” she insisted. I stared at her for a moment, both puzzled and amazed by her concern. And it was at that moment when I noticed that I could no longer see the aura around her, or around anyone for that matter. It was as if my vision had returned to normal, including my hearing, and those strange sensations.

“This place- it’s too depressing,” I finally said. “I don’t want to remember him this way.”

“Well, do you want me to come with you?” she asked.

“I would like that,” I said. “ But…  can I ask you to stay here, just to keep my brother company?” I didn’t know why I asked her to do that. Nevertheless, she didn’t seem to mind.

“Sure,” she said.

As a final insult, the sun came out when we left the cemetery. The clouds parted and vanished, the sky transformed into a crystalline blue. As ridiculous as it sounds, I hated the skies for having the audacity to heal before me, and literally shine its happiness in my face. I rolled the tinted windows all the way up.

As the car drove on, no one said a word. I could tell that they wanted to say something though, but they were both hesitant to speak. My thoughts dwelled on the incident of course. The incident that took my brother. No one knew exactly what happened that day. Of course rumours began circulating of a terrorist attack, while authorities commenced a prompt investigation. The death toll was estimated at about fifty-eight, with about forty other’s critically injured or wounded. Our car was at ground zero when the explosion hit. How I survived was a mystery. The doctors were perplexed at how I only sustained a few scrapes and bruises, which were almost gone by now. Simply being able to walk they saw as a miracle. I even caught a few people glaring at me during the funeral; staring at me as if I shouldn’t be alive. I didn’t blame them. And my dad hadn’t spoken to me since the devastation. But I didn’t care much for that. My thoughts were always with Jonathan.

Even my memory of the event was fragmented. All I could remember seeing was the large figure of a man, a blast of energy, and then the aftermath. I thought about that every day until the funeral. I especially thought of the large figure: that same entity who I saw in my dreams. I couldn‘t help but wonder what it was or if it was even real, and most importantly, what it all meant.

Finally, Chris spoke up. “Thanks for helpin’ me out that day with Justin, Anthony. Thanks a lot.”

“No problem,” I said solemnly, staring out the window. “What are friends for?”

“We’re not just friends, man,” continued Chris, “We’re brothers.” I looked at him in a poignant way. I didn’t expect him to say something like that. He was looking back at me, and his face was as stern as rock, yet in his eyes he was showing a completely different side of him. A side that seemed both wise and loving. I wanted to cry but I wouldn’t release my tears in front of them. I didn’t want to burden them with more heartache.

Later on, people came over for the reception. Even though the food was great, the despair made it seem bitter, so I had no appetite. I just sat on the couch in the living room as more family friends and relatives who I’ve never seen before came by to give their condolences. My father on the other hand was nowhere to be seen. He was locked away in his office.

The reception was short yet it seemed long. After my friends left, who stayed long after the reception, I went up to my room. Walking in, I tried to flick off the lights, only to realize that it was already off. The darkness seemed radiant to me, and this strange abnormality only intensified my despair, only making me feel even more detached from humanity. I collapsed onto my bed and allowed the sadness to take me as I remembered every day I spent with Jonathan. Then slowly my eyes became heavier and I dozed off.

As I opened my eyes, I was bewildered to see that I was riding in the Rolls through the Misty Canyon. I looked around, no one was in the car, not even in the drivers seat. Yet somehow, the car was moving. Outside I saw nothing, just shapes and shades of blue whizzing by. And suddenly a forewarning burned within me, and I looked out the window and saw the large dark figure again, standing in the mouth of the pipe, both glowing a vibrant red. But something else was there. Something that I couldn’t see or hear. But I felt it. And it was telling me to ignore the figure, and focus my attention to the pipe. The pipe. The pipe. The pipe.

THE PIPE!

The thought rang through my head like a church bell as I woke up. It was all a dream, and I was again in a pool of sweat, my bed soaking. “What the fuck?” I said to myself, not knowing what just happened or what I just dreamt. The pipe. What about the pipe? What about the large figure instead. I had no clue what was going on. I tried to ignore it, get it out of my head, but it just stuck there like a nail. I laid back and looked out the window. It was night, I had been asleep for hours, and the round yellow moon was so large in the window that it took up half the view. I stared at it for an hour before my eyes once again became heavy. And just before they sealed shut, the silhouette of a great horned owl flew into view, and landed on a branch in the moon light. My mind then plunged into darkness.

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