The Lilies of the Valley

  • T
  • T

When you kill yourself, fewer people come to your funeral. They either resent you for sinning or they can’t endure the awkward social acknowledgment of the sin. The dizzying realization of death and mortality passed by and was again unnoticed as it was most days by the residents of the windy yet quiet town of Bern, Nebraska. The event of the day was like a quiet high school reunion, where enough time had passed that most of the alumni had either died or been lovingly deposited into nursing homes.

Julia stood in the back. Her still beautiful 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 angry 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 cold comfort in my last moments before I became unconscious that last late night.

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 glued to a bullshitting asshole’s face. And Mark was never evil. His eyes were red and wet and his head 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 forced ignorance, he didn’t know what that part was. Julia knew, and it was not enough for her.

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 parlor room floor in front of my parents’ friends and when I was eleven my mom caught me hiding dirty mags under my bed. My guitars that were never properly played sat still in their rarely opened cases in the corner of my room. And my mother hummed to herself a happy song that sounded sad as she ironed bedding in the kitchen. Her wrinkled and loose skin was tense now and her eyes darted up at the clock, hoping for it to be later. 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 towards my dad and asked him if he wanted anything. The sunlight was shining in with sharp edges overtop 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 nervous tune as the iron puffed short spurts of steam up towards 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, being blocked from the wind. Cary was my brother and he cared for me as much as 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 of the backs of my friends, and off of 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 overturned 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 texture shifting in the wind below, quickly moving behind us. And there on the lilies of the valley, that hung heavy on their stiff stems, the wind lay me down at the end of the impossible and infinitesimal moment when I was alive.