We Say Goodbye
The turn out for Anna’s funeral is overwhelming, a stark contrast to the handful of people who showed up for Mike’s a few days ago. What made me attend I do not know, some part of me did it for Anna. Joey, Pearse and I were the only three people outside of his own family who were there. I felt no compassion for him neither pity nor sadness just anger. A burning hatred for the pain he caused Anna and ultimately being the cause of her death; however, indirect his part in it may have been.
“We’re sorry for your loss.” It’s always awkward knowing what to say when you have to walk past the line up of family members at a funeral, even after attending countless funerals, it never gets any easier.
“Thank you for coming.” Shake hand; my go-to response for almost every person who has walked past, going to have carpal tunnel by the end of today.
“Anna was such a lovely young woman.” An elderly woman I vaguely recognise says to Richard, my oldest brother, who is standing beside me. Staring at her for a moment, I try to place her face, where have I seen it before? She smiles and says, “Sorry for your loss.” Smiling back, I nod my head, shake her hand and say the usual.
“Who is that woman?” I whisper to Richard once she has moved far enough down the line not to hear.
“Mrs Clarke.” He replies, Mrs Clarke, Mrs Clarke, I know that name why does it send shivers down my spine. Watching her move up the line I get a flashback to boarding school, inspection day, we’re all lined up full uniform on, the boys lined up behind the girls, Joey standing directly behind her, he blows in my ear which makes me giggle, in the complete silence of the assembly hall it rings out like the bells of Notre Dame. Mrs Clarke spins around on the spot cane outstretched pointing at me “de Winter 2 weeks detention and see me in my office after inspection.” I received an additional month of exclusion from after school clubs; I shiver again.
“You alright, Olivia, you look a bit pale?” Richard asks in a whisper.
Nodding my head, I reply, “I’m fine.” She’s the last person I would have expected to see today, thought she would have popped her clogs years ago, hoped more like.
“It’ll be over soon.” Richard says reassuringly. Thankfully, funerals are draining mentally and physically.
“Such a lovely service.” One woman says to another.
“Reverend Mitchell always conducts a lovely funeral.” Joey has to hold me back from hitting one of them, stupid women as if a funeral can be lovely. Why are they even here? I doubt they were friends of Anna’s so why even show up, for the free food no doubt.
“Livi not today.” Joey says, grabbing my hand, sighing I nod my head, he’s right this is not the time or place to let my temper get the better of me.
“Here shove some of those in your mouth before you say something stupid.” Pearse says as he hands me a plate of sandwiches.
“Thanks.” Taking a bite, I say, “Mmm egg and cress my favourite. Anyone fancy a nip of whiskey?” I ask producing my silver hip flask from my jackets pocket.
“No, put that away,” Joey says brow furrowed, head shaking disapprovingly. “On second thoughts hand it over, I’ll hang on to it for the rest of the day.” His hand out waiting for me to give it to him.
“What are you the booze police?” Handing it over I know it’s the right thing to do but god I need a bracer to get through the rest of this day. “Just one sip, please.”
“No, one sip becomes two and then three leads to four, and in no time you’ll have consumed the entire flask.”
“Red, you know I can’t drink a lot of whiskey.”
“Yes I do know, but today you will be drinking none at all.”
“He’s right Oli.” Pearse chimes in as he scoffs yet another sandwich.
“Et tu Brute?” I say, Pearse shrugs his shoulders.
“It’s for your own good; you’ll thank me tomorrow.”
“Doubtful.” Shoving the remains of my egg and cress sandwich into my mouth, I contemplate the rest of today without any liquid encouragement. The outlook is bleak, several more hours of this awkward socialising lie stretched out in front of me and I’m to go into battle without any armour, how cruel.
Sitting down on the now damp grass beside Anna’s grave, I say, “We never did get to see inside one of those apartments at the old mill. Not that it matters anymore.” Warm tears trickle down my face, the knot that has been in my stomach for days tightens even more. “I need you, Anna, I don’t know what I’m going to do without you. Who else can I talk to about everything and nothing all at the same time? I’m going to miss you so much; nothing will be the same without you. I’m not even sure I want to keep going with the new club. It’s been nothing but heartache from the start, and now you won’t be there to run it with me. What’s the point? What’s the point of anything? You weren’t supposed to leave me. So many people here, I have no idea who most of them are, not even sure most of them know whose funeral it is they are attending. You’ll never guess who is here.” Pausing, even though I know, I will receive no answer.
"Mrs Clarke, yeah our old principal from boarding school, that woman still sends shivers up my spine. She hasn’t changed much in all these years her hair is greyer, and she has more wrinkles, but she still has that domineering air about her. I went to Mike’s funeral, well Joey, Pearse and I did his mum and dad are nice people, how on earth did they end up having a son like him. Whatever my opinion of Mike is, he’s still their son, and they loved him. Tabitha has been lying on your bed for days, just getting up to eat and use the litter tray. We’re never going to be the same without you, Anna. Thank you for being my sister and for always believing in me. You will never know how much you mean to me, and how much of a hole you're leaving us has left in my heart.” Biting my lip, tears blinding me, I say, “I love you Anna Elizabeth de Winter, be happy and fly free.”