Grandmother’s funeral was last week.
It happened so inconveniently. Dave lost his job, Katherine had just gotten a citation for her third speeding ticket. When the call came, waterlogged news from a second or third cousin, Katherine and Dave sat on the couch together, syncopated by sobs and wet cheeks, side by side, but never touching.
I couldn’t bring myself to shed a single tear. I’m like that, I feel the urge to cry, but never do. People die, and my body just doesn’t care.
They make me wear a maroon velvet dress to the will-reading, sweaty and sticky and a few sizes too small. Its collar feels like ants crawling along my neckline.
We sit in the basement of a church in the next town over, in broken folding chairs with linty seat covers. I'm surrounded by family I had never gotten to know, curvy women in cabled sweaters, toothpick men in droopy fedoras, puffy eyed and sniffling. The lawyer, in his oversized pinstripe suit with glinting cufflinks, looks like he doesn't belong, because he is sad.
But maybe that means that I don’t belong either.
The will pours out like static, woven with legal jargon I don’t understand, accentuated by the lawyer’s crackly voice, gravel in his throat. Katherine keeps awkwardly placing her hand on my knee, displaying her chipped brown polish, something she had called stylish when she painted it on, but now looks like she dipped her fingers in mud. “It’s going to be alright, Aurora. It’s going to be okay.” she had whispered.
It never is, after she says those words. But she believes it, so I force a slight curve onto my lips.
As we exit the church, the clouds sheets of dark fabric rolled over the sky, no one bothers to talk to each other, to engage in conversation, to fill the gaps of years. They are stuck in their own bubbles of grief, isolated.
Maybe that’s why I don’t cry. It makes sadness a reality, something concrete and tangible. And when you are sad, you live in the past, oblivious to the world around you slowly dying.
In the car, which is like a refrigerator, curiosity creeps in and refuses to leave. “What even happened?”
Katherine in the driver’s seat, Dave in the passenger’s. Rigid against the faux leather seats, wisps of steam circling their heads.
Dave turns around. “We got what we expected, what we were planning for.”
“Aurora, we got her house.”
The phantom, made of brick and stone. But this wasn’t it, there had to be another fold, another reveal.
“We’re going to be moving there, as soon as possible.”
The typical reaction to this would have been anger, fear, not wanting to leave. But I don't feel that way. I had expected it, with all the turmoil and chaos that had been occurring. And, there wasn’t anything for me to miss, nothing at all. My friends were all fake and the lack of my existence would be a relief to them. Our house was run down, cracks lacing the bathroom ceiling, cupboards falling off their hinges, mold crawling through any place with no light.
The trees here were beautiful though. Each autumn, they dissolved into flames, flickers of reds and oranges that fluttered to the ground, like dead moths.
But trees are like that everywhere in New Hampshire, there’s nothing special about them.
There isn’t much to pack, my entire life fits in two boxes. My clothes fit in one, and everything else in the other. A few books, a journal that I haven’t written in in a couple of months. An old watercolor painting I had done, that was supposed to be a field of flowers, but had turned out looking more like rainbow candy, puked up.
Little things, insignificant parts that are somehow sentimental.
When all the boxes have been shoved in the back of the car, stacked precariously on top of each other, I fasten my seatbelt.
A fleeting idea passes through my mind. I press the glaring release button, open the car door and dash to the porch.
It's concrete, uneven slabs smashed together. I fish a purple pen out of my pocket, one of the four I keep in there. I toss it onto the grey flatness, raise my foot, and smash it, the thin plastic shattering like glass.
The ink bleeds, staining the concrete.
I give the house a small, halfhearted wave, then run back to the car, back to my escape.
At least one part of me will be here forever.