The Lilies of the Valley

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When you kill yourself, fewer people come to your funeral. They either resent you for it or they don’t want to admit to themselves that it happened. Death and mortality were to pass by and once again be unnoticed as it was most days in the small town in the middle of nowhere. Today was like a high school reunion twenty years too late, where everyone had either died or become too old to make the trip.

Julia stood in the back. Her face showed the age of her early divorce and the life in her eyes had been drawn back – beaten down by the passionate boy she fell in love with, and the man he became. A dark veil that matched her eyes, hung from the black hat that sat on her short blonde hair. Her face was still and her eyes were dry. And her thoughts were full of regret. I had hoped for that and it brought me a sad kind of comfort in my last moments.

Mark stood in front of Julia. I never deserved Mark. When he looked at you, you were happy. The smile that spread across his face from his eyes to his chin was constant and real. There are few evils worse than an insincere smile. And Mark was never evil. But now, his eyes were red and wet and he was shaking, and he did not believe that his best friend did this to himself. He was always supportive of what he called the ‘artist in me’, but whether through convicted optimism or intentional ignorance, he didn’t really know what that part was or how far down it went.

My dad sat quietly two miles down the road in his big chair that outlived me, in the dusty and stale living room in the only house I ever knew as a home. When I was four I peed on the floor in front of my parents’ friends and when I was eleven my mom caught me hiding dirty mags under my bed. My guitars hung still on the walls with their dusty curves. And my mother hummed to herself a happy song that came out sad as she ironed bedding in the kitchen. Her wrinkled and loose skin was tense and her eyes darted up towards the clock. She stopped dying her hair a few years ago, and her greys were up in curlers. And if you close your eyes and imagine what an old lady’s nightgown looks like, she was wearing it. She called Dad and asked him if he wanted anything. The sunlight was shining in with sharp edges over the top of my dad’s bald head, lighting up the dense dust in the air. He was either asleep or his thoughts were a long way away. I could never tell and she didn’t bother to find out. She continued to hum her nerves as the iron puffed short spurts of steam up toward her tired moist face.

The wind came by my old home and flew down the road and up the hill to the backs of Julia and Mark. Cary felt the wind hit his face and it knocked the cheap urn down as he fumbled it out of the box. A bit of me spilled out and sat still, clumped on the rocks, blocked from the wind. Cary was my brother and he cared for me as much as he needed to prove how good he was. And today, as he stooped over scooping me back into the plastic urn, he felt very good about himself.

Off the backs of my friends, and off the box and the face of my brother, the wind continued on, leaving the memory of what slowed it briefly, behind. And out of the urn, it grabbed and held onto me and flew me down the hill and across the tall grass. We went up in the heat of the sun and there we flew, quiet and peaceful, looking down over the white-spotted green field shifting in the wind below. And there on the lilies of the valley, that hung heavy on their stems, the wind lay me down at the end of the impossible and infinitesimal moment when I was alive.