Chapter 1: New York City - September 22, 2017
The loud noises of Times Square travelled through the air and into the open window of my tenth-floor office. Glancing outside, I watched as yellow taxis zoomed in and out of the busiest place in the world. Double decker buses did the same thing, horns honking as impatient people tried to force their way through. The lights of the signs were beginning to brighten as the sun was setting between the tall buildings. It casted an orange glow on the streets, making everything seem to shimmer. It was very beautiful, a sight I loved seeing each night. Even though it had been five years since I moved to the city, the sight still took my breath away each time I saw it. It was one of my most favorite things about living here and I would be enjoying it more though if my husband wasn’t two hours late picking me up from work.
Looking around my office, I took in the modesty of it. It was an average size room, large enough for my desk, a couch and a bookshelf by the door. The part of the walls that weren’t made of glass were painted a light grey, the rest were floor to ceiling windows. Wooden blinds hung from them, blocking the rest of our staff from seeing inside unless I wanted them to. The carpet under my feet was a dark grey color, matching the fabric of the couch that was across from my desk. It was mainly for clients, making them feel at home as they browsed our loan and house options. I had designed this office when our firm first opened. I remember being so proud of it then. I still am today. It was something I worked hard for and finally achieved. It was amazing coming to work every day to the machine I had made from pretty much the ground up. I had never envisioned being a real estate agent when I was younger. It was just something that happened to fall in my lap after high school and I soared with it. My business partner, Sarah Reids, asked me to be her partner after three years working for a huge firm uptown. I agreed, pooling our money together and here we are today five years later.
Sighing, I stood up from the ledge of the window and walked over to my desk. Punching redial on my desk phone, I listened as it rang five times before going to his voicemail. “Hey. It’s Michael. Leave a message at the beep.” His voice said over the speakerphone. I slammed the button, cutting off the call. It had been like this for the last hour, his voicemail picking up instead of him. Scooping up my coat, I slid it on and stormed out of my office. My secretary, Anne Martins, was sitting at her desk. She had offered to stick around until I left. I felt terrible because she had a family waiting for her at home. The blonde looked up at me as I locked my door.
“Are you leaving, Mrs. Winters?” Anne asked. I nodded, turning to face her.
“Yes. Head home, Anne. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Yes, ma’am.” She replied, reaching over and turning off her desk lamp. Behind her, the black lettering of our real estate agency stared at me. White light shined behind it, making WINTERS & REIDS stand out more. Shaking my head, I headed up the hall towards the elevator. Annoyance was setting in deep inside of me as I jammed the down button with my thumb. The doors opened and I stepped on. The silver doors shut behind me and the carriage started down toward the lobby.
“Good evening, Mrs. Winters!” George the doorman called as I stepped out of the elevator in the lobby. The dark skinned older gentleman smiled at me as he pulled up the glass doors. I gave him a forced small smile. He was the sweetest man I had ever met, making sure to give each person he met with a warm smile and a greeting. He’s been here for about twenty years now, seeing multiple businesses come and go from here. He was here when our office opened five years ago, giving me the same greeting every day since. He’s almost the face of the building and one of the best things about my days sometimes.
“Thanks, George. Have a good night.” He nodded as I stepped through. Glancing up and down the street, I looked for any sign of my husband’s SUV. It was nowhere to be seen, adding to the anger building in my chest. Horns honked and sirens wailed as fire trucks and police cars zoomed through the streets like bats out of hell. Waving my hand, I hailed a cab. A small yellow Honda Civic zipped over and parked in front of the curb long enough for me to climb in. There was an Indian man in the front seat, his dark eyes flashing on me for a second before darting back into traffic. He was a driver I’ve had many times before so he knew where he was going as he started heading towards Central Park. Traffic was backed up, making our journey longer the usual. Pulling my phone from my coat pocket, I dialed Michael’s number. It went to voicemail again, causing me to swear under my breath. I shoved it into the front pocket of my bag, preparing to my speech to him when I arrived home in my brain.
Today was our fifth wedding anniversary. He had come up with the idea of going out to dinner to celebrate. Our marriage has seen better days of late, tension and stress building between the two of us causing down right screaming matches on almost a daily basis. I had been hesitant to agree to dinner in the middle of the week. His accounting firm was in the middle of it’s slow season, causing him to stay later on Wednesdays to complete some back filing and meeting with new clients. He swore that he would pick me up though, promising to show me a good time like when we were newlyweds. I agreed, hopeful that this was something we needed to jump start us back on the right track to fixing our marriage. I’ve been with him since I was sixteen years old, making our entire ten-year relationship the longest one I’ve ever had. I’ve built a life with this man and divorce seemed to loom above us. As scary as it was, I knew that it was something that was going to happen if something didn’t change. This was a last attempt to fix what was broken. Apparently, he had changed his mind though.
The cab driver pulled up in front of my apartment building. I slid my credit card through the machine hanging off the seat in front of me, giving him a 5% tip. He thanked me quickly as I climbed out. I watched his taillights fade as he booked it up the street. Tossing my brown hair over my shoulder, I walked towards the front door. My heels clicked as the automatic sliding doors opened. The Lyrics Complex was an upscale apartment complex that we moved into about a year ago. It’s a secure building, something Michael really wanted with my business growing. Since our firm has been using commercials to spread our advertising circle, more and more people have been seeing my face. He was worried that someone may do something crazy like stalk me or try to hurt me. So, we found a new place here and moved in to easy his worries.
I rode the elevator up to the fifth floor and exited. Each floor here has four apartments on them, in each of the corners of the building. Ours is located in the south corner, facing the park. I unlocked my door and tossed my keys into the bowl on the end table next to the door. I kicked the door shut behind me, it locking as I did. I kicked off my black heels and headed up the hallway towards the kitchen. Flicking on the light, my pure white and grey kitchen lit up with the soft glow above my head. Setting my bag on the marble island in the middle, I walked over to the phone on the counter next to the fridge. I was hoping he had called and left a message on the home phone but there was none. Glaring at it, I opened the fridge door and grabbed a bottle of wine from the wine cooler drawer. Turning, I opened the cabinet door over the sink and gently picked up a stemmed wineglass. I set it down on the counter, pulling the cork from the bottle. Pouring the wine into the glass, I watched as it fogged over with cold condensation.
Picking up my glass of wine, I headed towards the living room. I groaned when I saw Michael’s stuff all over the place. His clothes from yesterday were on the floor, a bowl he had ice cream in was on the table and his sneakers were on the couch. Walking over, I slapped them off. I kicked his clothes to one corner before sitting on the cushions. I flipped the television on, going through the channels. I wasn’t really looking for anything to watch. My anger was bubbling inside of me now and I just wanted to find something to take my mind off of it. The wine was helping to take the edge off, allowing me to slip into a comfy state of mind.
I awoke a few hours later, curled into a ball on the couch. Rubbing my eyes, I glanced at the clock. It was nearly four in the morning. Climbing off the couch, I walked through the apartment looking for Michael. He wasn’t in our room when I stepped in. Pulling my phone from the pocket of my pants, I saw there were no missed calls or messages from anyone. I tried his cell again, it went straight to his voicemail this time. Groaning, I hung up the phone and tossed it on my bedside table. Changing into a pair of sweats and a tank top, I slipped into bed and under the covers. A tear slid down my cheek as I rolled over, facing his side of the bed.
I should have known this was coming. Everything had been tense between us for the last year now. Work and just daily living were growing thin, causing us to fight pretty much every day. It was getting to the point where we were barely speaking now unless we needed to. I had placed a call to a divorce attorney about a month ago, certain that was the only option. He drew up the papers for me and offered to hold on to them for me until I was ready to serve Michael. Now with this little stunt of staying out all night, I knew I was ready. It killed me that this was how things were going to end between us. I had always thought we would have a family together, raising a few kids and buy a house on the outskirts of the city. It was what we always talked about when we were crazy kids growing up in North Carolina. Of course, he was going to be a famous rock star at that point and I was going to be a world renown author. It’s funny how things change as you get older and see what life makes you do. I’d give anything to have those warm Carolina nights back.
I got very little sleep after heading to bed so I was in rare form when I arrived at the office the next morning. I barely acknowledge George as I passed him for the elevator, hopping on with a number of other business men and women who were going to other offices in the building. I stormed off on my floor, passing a number of my employees who stepped back in fear when they saw me. Anne was at her desk, going through files when I approached. She smiled at me, it quickly fading when she saw my expression of what I would assume was aggression. “Anne, get Mr. Hixson on the phone for me please. And cancel my morning showings. I want to be alone.”
“Yes, ma’am.” She called as I shut the door of my office behind me. I tossed my things on the floor next to my desk and plopped into my chair. Outside, the sky above Times Square was gray and dark. The late September air was chilly but still muggy, making everything feel wet and sticky. It didn’t nothing for my hair as it hung limply around my head, stray pieces frizzing up in various places. The phone on my desk beeped. “I have Mr. Hixton for you online one.” Anne’s voice said on the intercom.
“Thank you.” I pressed the button for the call waiting and brought the receiver to my ear. “Hello, Mr. Hixson.”
“Abby! How are you? How was the anniversary?” The older gentleman asked. I heard papers shuffling on his end, telling me he was looking for something.
“I didn’t.” I said, flatly. “I’ve had enough. I’d like you to deliver those papers to Michael. Today.”
“You sure about this? I don’t want you to make this decision and change your mind again.” He replied. I closed my eyes, leaning back in my chair.
“Yes. I’m sure. I can’t take the bullshit anymore.” Sighing, I opened my eyes and glanced at the wedding picture on my desk. The wooden frame held a picture of him holding me, my long white dress flowing in the breeze behind me. We looked so happy, young and in love then. “Can you get it done?”
“Yep. I have his work address in the file. I’ll have him served before lunch. Once he gets them, I’ll contact the judge to set up a court date. If you’d like, you can try to work things out with him about your living situation. I know it can be awkward living with someone you are divorcing. Maybe one of you can stay with family until this is all settled?”
“My family is down in North Carolina. He has a sister that lives here in the city. He can figure it out. Thank you, Mr. Hixton.”
“You’re welcome. We’ll be in touch, dear.” I hung up the phone as a hard knock rattled my door. Glancing up, I saw Anne standing in the window. I waved her in. Nervously, she opened the door wide enough to stick her head in.
“Mrs. Winters, there’s someone here to see you. They say it’s very important. I told them you didn’t want to be disturbed but they said they were with the police.” I looked at her confused.
“Let them in, Anne.” I said, standing. Anne moved aside and a shorter woman with red hair and a round face entered, a tall gentleman with gray hair behind her. Both wore dark jackets and flashed their shields when they stepped in. Anne shut the door behind them, scurrying away towards her desk again. I could see her pick up the receiver of her phone, probably calling Sarah to let her know something was going on. I stepped around my desk, gazing at them with some worry.
“Mrs. Winters, I’m Detective Janet Bernard. This is my partner, Detective Gary Thurston. Do you have a moment to speak with us?” The woman said. I nodded.
“Yes. What is this about?” I asked. They glanced at each other before Detective Bernard turn to me again.
“There was a motor vehicle accident last night involving your husband, Michael Winters.” I gasped.
“Oh my god! Is he alright? I’ve been looking for him all night. I figured he was out late somewhere with someone he shouldn’t have been. Which hospital is he at?” I asked, reaching down for my purse. I pulled my phone from the front pouch, ready to call for a car.
“I’m sorry to tell you this, Mrs. Winters, but him and his passenger were killed after striking another vehicle. We believe that speed and alcohol played a factor into it.” She continued to speak but I heard nothing but mumbling. Killed? My husband was killed? How could that be? Yesterday morning, I had just sat across from him at the breakfast table, talking about where we would go for dinner that night. He had smiled at me like he used to when I asked about whether we should get a taxi instead of driving so we could drink as much as we liked. How could he be dead? It wasn’t right. There had to be a mistake. I sank to my knees, barely feeling the rug underneath me as I clutched my phone to my chest. I couldn’t breathe. Gasps of air were coming in and out of me but it didn’t feel like I was getting enough. The edges of my vision began to fade until I passed out.
A day later, it still doesn’t feel real. After I had fainted, the police officers had woken me up with smelling salts. I didn’t want to listen to them any more as they explained what happened. Michael had been driving under the influence of alcohol when he hit a truck head on. Him and the girl who was riding with him were killed instantly, seriously injuring the driver of the other car. The police told me the girl in the car with my husband who was named Tiffany, had been his long-term girlfriend he’d been having an affair with for the past six months. They were coming back from a day at Cooney Island together, hoping to get her home in time to pick me up for dinner. He had drunk more than he thought he had though, causing the accident that killed the both of them. Not only was my husband dead, so was the woman he had been cheating on me with.
Knocking on my hotel room door broke me from my thoughts. Standing, I walked through the suite and pulled the white door open. On the other side stood a stocky built man with greying hair on his head. Brown eyes looked at me through wired glasses, his rose-colored cheeks flushed from the walk to my room. Andrew Green looked tired as he smiled down at me. My father opened his arms and engulfed me in a tight hug, the smell of his aftershave filling my senses. A sob escaped my lips as I buried my face into the flannel shirt on his chest. “Hey, darling. Sorry it took so long to get here. I got the first flight out of there I could though. How you holding up?”
“Like shit.” I said, pulling out of his arms. I wiped my face off on the sleeve of the sweatshirt I was wearing and walked into the room more. He followed, shutting the door behind him. “I haven’t slept. I feel like a zombie.”
“No offense but you kinda look like one too.” He replied, grinning at me. I shot him a look, semi appreciating his attempt at humor right now. It had been almost six months since I had seen my father. He had come up her for my birthday, spending the weekend here to catch a baseball game with Michael. The two got along well enough but they weren’t exactly best friends. They both tried their hardest though and sports always seemed to help ease the awkwardness between them.
“Thanks, Daddy. How’s Grams doing?” I asked, sitting on the bed. He shrugged, propping himself up on the arm of the chair in the corner of the room.
“She’s hanging in there. She wanted to come but I didn’t think I could take care of both of you in the Big Apple at the same time. She’s spending some quality time with Mrs. Nelson next door.” I nodded, biting my lip. “Talk to me, Abz.”
“I just can’t believe this is happening. I’m only 26. I’m not ready to be a widow.”
“Who is? I know I wasn’t ready to be when your momma died. It’s something that happens whether you’re ready or not. So, what happened? Was it just a car accident?” I hadn’t told my father all the details of Michael’s death. I was too ashamed to admit that he had died with his whore in an accident he caused. It would be like telling the world my husband didn’t think I was good enough for him. The notion of it made me nauseous. It was bad enough I was trying to serve him with divorce papers right before I learned of his death. This just made everything so much worse.
“Yeah. Someone hit him head on and he died.” I whispered, standing up. Running a hand through my hair, I felt it was dirty and greasy to the touch. “Did you get a room here, Daddy? If not, I can switch to a double suite.”
“Why can’t we just go back to your apartment?” He glanced at me.
“I just can’t be there right now. It’s too much for me to look at. You can stay there if you’d like. I’ll give you my key. The housekeeper should have been there today to clean.” Walking over to the dresser, I grabbed my keys off the top of it. I handed them to him.
“Honey, you’re gonna have to face it eventually. Unless you’re gonna move. Are you thinking about it?” Glancing up at the mirror behind the dresser, I saw my own reflection. I looked like a hollow shell of the person I usually am. My eyes were dark, my cheeks sunk in and my hair was everywhere, spilling out of the pony tail I had tossed it into last night.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do. I can’t afford it on my own. Our lease is up at the end of the month. There’s no way they will renew it with me now once they know Michael is gone.” The words echoed in my head as I spoke. Gone. My husband was gone and never coming back.
“Well, we can figure all that out after the funeral. It’s not important right now. What’s important is you getting some rest. Why don’t you take a shower and I’ll run and get some pizza? I know you probably haven’t been eating.” Stepping over to me, he gave me a quick peck on the forehead. “I’ll be back shortly.”
I watched as he walked out of the room, the door closing behind him. Sighing, I headed towards the bathroom. A shower did sound nice right now. Even though I felt numb, I could still feel the grime on me. Turning on the hot water, I shed my sweats and my sweat shirt before climbing in. The water felt amazing on my skin, almost convincing me the past day and a half were washing away. I knew it wasn’t though. I knew that after I get out of this shower, it was going to be the same thing. Michael would still be dead. A dead cheater. I didn’t even know why it bothered me so much. I was going to divorce him. Why did it hurt so much that he was suddenly gone? It’s what I wanted, right? Tears slipped out of my eyes as I washed my hair. I felt a million different emotions but the most overpowering one was confusion. I didn’t know what the hell was going on in my head or heart. I knew I should be sad that he was dead. And I was. But I also knew I should be upset about him cheating. And I was. There was also something else there that I didn’t recognize. Every time I tried to put my finger on it, I couldn’t really decide what it was. Just that it lingered there in the back of my mind, poking it’s head out every now and then.
Climbing out of the shower, I wrapped myself in one of the fluffy white towels that hung over the toilet. I wiped the steam off the mirror and looked at myself. The shower had helped my hair but my eyes were still carrying dark bags under them. Turning away, I dried and changed into my clothes again. Dad knocked on the door as I emerged from the bathroom. I let him in, a pizza box and a six pack of beer in hand. He set up everything on the desk by the window, handing me a slice of pizza on a napkin. Hunger pains hit me as the smell of the pizza did. I hadn’t eaten anything since the day Michael stood me up. The thought of eating hadn’t even crossed my eyes until now. I didn’t realize how hungry I was until I took that first bite. I quickly scarfed down two slices while he worked on his first. Glancing over, I saw him grin at me. “What?” I asked, wiping my mouth with a napkin.
“Good to see you still eat pizza like a true Green.” He replied, taking a long sip off his long neck bottle of beer. I chuckled, popping the top off of mine.
“You can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl I suppose.”
“I was actually thinking on my way back here how to solve your apartment problem. I think I have a solution, too.”
“Yeah? What is it?”
“You should move back to Trenton.” I scuffed at the idea, rolling my eyes. “Now hold on. Just listen to me. You could move in with me and your grandma until you found your own place. Even if it’s just for a little bit until you get your head back on straight. You could take an extended vacation from work and just take a break from all of this.”
“Daddy, I love you but I’m not moving back there.”
“Why?” He asked.
“Because this is my where my life is now. My job is here.”
“You have no one here now though. Michael was the only family you had here. And we could always use a real estate agent in Trenton since Sandra Owens moved away.” I shook my head.
“I know you would love to have me back home but I can’t just pack up the life I’ve made here and run back. I worked too hard to get out of there to just go back now.”
“No one said it had to be forever.”
Michael’s funeral was two days later. What felt like hundreds of people showed up, filing into the church. I greeted them the best I could, growing tired of speaking to people I didn’t even know. They all wished me the same thing, telling me he loved me so much. Some brought flowers, others carrying cards that they left on the stand near the doorway. Most of the people were his co-workers and clients he had worked with since we arrived in New York. His boss had come, bringing with him the entire board of directors of the company. They lined one whole pew themselves, whispering to each other as people passed. Sometimes they laughed and smiled at each other, acting like it was a business meeting rather than a funeral.
Riley Winters showed up about an hour after the calling hours started. Michael’s younger sister was a free spirit. At least that’s what his family called her. In my mind, she was nothing but a party girl with a growing alcohol and drug addiction. I could smell the rum on her as the petite blonde wrapped her arms around me in a hug. Tears streamed down her face as she plopped in the seat next to me. “I can’t believe he’s gone!” She exclaimed loudly, people looking our way. I left her to her antics, excusing myself for the bathroom. I slipped through the crowd towards the back of the church, locking myself in the small lavatory.
This was all too much for me. It was like someone had propped me up there with a recorded message, expecting me to be the grieving wife of the wonderful business man who was gone too soon. While I stood there, I tried my best to avoid looking at his casket. It was closed, his face injured to the point of them not wanting to display it. The funeral director had asked me if I wished to see him before the funeral to say my goodbyes. I declined though, not wanting to see his face if I didn’t have to. I knew he was in there, dressed in his favorite black suit and grey tie. It was the one he wore to all his tough meetings that he wanted to look sharp for. I had had my father pick it up from my apartment yesterday and drop it off to the funeral home. Gripping the sink, I let out a haggard breath. I didn’t know how long I could put up with this charade. He was gone because of the choices he made. How was I supposed to act like this the rest of my life? The very thought alone left me feeling exhausted. Now I had to figure out the entire future ahead of me. The property manager had figured out that Michael was dead. They asked if I would be able to afford the apartment on my salary alone. I had a week to prove to them I could or else I would need to be out by October. Not only was my husband gone but I was also losing my home. I knew I would never be able to keep the place on my own and pay the rest of my bills. I’d be risking going into debt if I did, putting the business on the line as well. I would have to start looking for another place come Monday.
Going back into the church, the pastor stood at the front of the room looking around. Pastor Anthony was a gentle old man who had reached out to me when he heard Michael has passed. Michael had done the accounting for the church for a few years now and Anthony wished to give back for his services. He smiled when his eyes landed on me, the wrinkles around his bright blue eyes creasing. “Abby, do you believe everyone is here now?” He asked, taking my hand in his. I peeked over at the pews, seeing them filled almost to the max. I nodded, turning back to him.
“I think so if you’d like to begin.”
“I believe that’d be okay.” He replied. I made my way back to my seat, sitting in between Riley and my father. Michael’s parents had both passed away between the time we had moved to New York till now. His mother had a short bout with breast cancer and his father had ended up succumbing to the depression that came after his wife’s death. He drank himself to death, causing Riley to speed out of control in the way she was now. It was really Michael who was holding everything together after his parents died. His siblings, six in total, were spread out all around the country. Riley was the only one who had showed today though, the rest claiming it just wasn’t a good time for them right now to make the trip. It bothered me that they weren’t here but not as much as the fact I was here.
Music began to play, signaling everyone to sit down and shut up. Pastor Anthony walked over to the podium that was next to the casket. My eyes finally landed on it, the dark brown wood shining under the sunlight that shone in through the stain glass windows above. Large floral arrangements were set up on either side of the casket, the smell filling in the space between the altar and the first pew. When the music was finished, Anthony cleared his throat and smiled out to the crowd. “Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to take a moment to thank you for being here with me today to celebrate the all too short life of Michael Winters.” He said. He continued to speak, talking about Michael’s love of sports, food and anything that had to do with video games.
I spaced out as he talked, my mind drifting to the last time I saw Michael. We had been sitting at our dining room table, eating cereal. He had asked me what I had planned for the day and if I’d be able to make it to our date. Looking back now, I see he was trying to gage how much time he would have with his girlfriend. He hadn’t gone to work that day like he said he was. Instead, he had picked her up and went to Cooney Island. At the hotel last night, I had looked for this Tiffany on social media. She had dozens of pictures of the two of them together. They had gone to baseball games, concerts and other things that he said his co-workers were going with him to. They had even gone away for a weekend to Niagara Falls during the time he had mentioned a business trip. I couldn’t believe he had hidden this for six months. How had I not seen this happening right in front of me? Was I that checked out of my marriage that he felt he had a free pass to get away with this?
The eulogy ended and more music played. Reaching over, Dad wrapped an arm around my shoulders and squeezed gently. The line of people began again, waiting to head outside to their cars. I thanked them for coming and said I’d see them at the cemetery, not paying any attention to them as I spoke. Once everyone was out, the pall bearers carried his casket out to the waiting hearse. I followed behind them, Riley on one side and my father on the other. I did my duty, tears slipping down my cheeks as I wore the black lace dress I had planned on wearing on our date the other night. They loaded him into the car, shutting the door. Dad’s rental car was behind it and he opened the door for Riley and me. She hopped in the back, still sobbing. I climbed into the passenger seat, trying to zone out the rest of the world. Slowly, the procession began moving, heading towards the cemetery.
I was placed in the middle of the front row of folding chairs as everyone made their way towards the hole in the ground. Michael’s coffin was carried over and placed on the platform that would lower him into the ground. Hushed voices carried on conversations around me as the seats began to fill. Most people stood though, creating a larger circle around the area we were in. Dad sat next to me like he did at the church but Riley was now gone. I knew she was here somewhere. I had lost her on the walk over here. Not that I cared much. Though I felt bad that she had lost her brother, she was drunkenly causing a dramatic scene with her grief. I understand being upset but she was doing this on purpose. I knew she was doing this because that’s the type of person she is.
Once everyone was here, Pastor Anthony began the other service. He spoke about life after death and how Michael’s impact here on Earth would surely mean an eternal time of happiness for him in Heaven. Well of course it would. He was there with his little girlfriend without any type of care now. I was the one left to deal with everything he caused. Not only did he get to have an affair, he didn’t have to pick up the pieces it caused after the fact. Resentment built in my chest as I stared at the casket in front of me. I wanted to jump out of my chair and shove it into the hole. To scream and kick it until I felt better. I didn’t though, staying in my seat as they lowered it into the ground. People tossed roses on top of it, biding their final farewells before walking off towards their cars. Their jobs were finished. Mine had only just begun.