The bright sun hangs in the sky, hitting their backs. But Alice does not feel warm. She isn’t sweating despite her dark attire. She learned that black absorbs heat a while ago in some science class she was forced to take. But right now it feels like the long sleeved shirt she’s wearing is doing anything but absorbing the sun’s rays. As if her black tee and dark jeans and low heeled boots cast a forcefield around her. No warmth penetrates through her clothes and stabs her skin.
Alice tilts her head up and glances towards the sky. She challenges herself to stare straight at the sun for as long as she can. Her mother has told her on countless occasions how bad that is for your eyes. But Alice isn’t thinking about her eyes or her health for that matter.
On a normal day, she would bring a hand up to shield her eyes.
But this is not a normal day.
A semi-circle of people gather around her. They wear shades of black. The girls have thinner, transparent tops, making the colour look lighter than the thick, dark suits some of the guys are wearing.
She expected and prepared for this day. Even though Alice was told about the funeral two weeks in advance, she wishes now that she had more time.
Too bad time is a fickle thing.
Unlike her brother, Simon.
When he was alive, he had hair even Alice was jealous of. Jet black like pen ink. He made a point to touch it up throughout the day. Sometimes when Simon grew out his hair, the front would hang just above his eyebrows. He had been blessed with long lashes that covered his dark brown eyes. Unlike Alice who got the bad genes of someone in her family with poor eyesight, he could see perfectly fine in broad daylight. Even at night his eyesight was sharper than hers in the day. She had surgery to fix the alignment of her brown eyes, which were slightly lighter than his. But for as long as she can remember, Alice had to wear glasses. For a while she switched to wearing contacts. But when one particular contact irritated her left eye so much it turned red, she went back to wearing her thick framed glasses with rounded lenses.
But now that Simon’s dead, she realizes with a start that he’ll never see again.
And she still will.
There’s nothing left to see. Alice has seen enough.
She saw the way her brother’s eyes lit up when he got a toy he’s wanted for a long time. At first, the toy was usually a superhero figure. Then he fell in love with cars. Alice didn’t understand her younger brother’s obsession. They were just cars, vehicles of transport. But his eyes told a different story. They gleamed when he talked about cars. And every time he did, Alice tuned him out. Now she’d do anything, trade everything to hear him go on about an engine or a special feature or the latest design.
The silence unnerves her. It’s not completely silent. She hears the soft and low rumble of cars from behind her.
Alice’s mother holds a tissue in one hand, in the other she’s gripping onto her husband. Alice’s dad is whispering in her mom’s ear. He drops his voice to a whisper so that only she can hear him. Even Alice, standing on the other side of her dad can’t hear what he’s saying.
Wind roars in her ears. The spring afternoon smells of flowers and dirt. And dead people.
Time passes. People leave.
Eventually the only people left standing are her parents and Alice. Everyone else has gone home.
She casts a glance at her mom and dad. Mom seems to have composed herself. Her shoulders back and higher. She stands up a little bit straighter, still clutching the tissue in her hand but at least her eyes are dry.
Her dad continues to hold onto his wife’s hand, whispering occasionally now. He is wearing a black suit with a matching tie. His graying hair sits on top of his head, being blown around by the warm wind.
She doesn’t think about what she’s about to do next. She just does it.
Alice starts running despite the fact that she’s wearing boots with a low heel.
Her long curly hair trails behind her like a cape.
Someone calls her name, but she doesn’t look back.