Funerals are for those with regrets or unsaid words. I have neither and yet my eyes still graze over Leilani Emerson’s still, empty coffin. The hand sewn garments dribble over the sides, blessed with luxurious lace and embroidery. There’s a pillow at the far end where no one’s head will ever lie. Mum says I have to cry at funerals, it’s a sign of respect and yet my cheeks are dry. My fingers trail along the length of the coffin before I make my way to Pax so the long line of mourners behind me can get a chance at viewing empty air.
Pax stands with his back pressed against the granite wall and the buttons to his suit jacket undone. He stares off into space, watching the crowd that gathered around the food table with a blank look till I rest my hand on his shoulder. “We can go now.”
Concern swirls around my brother’s brown eyes before he nods and murmurs, “You’sure?”
My gaze flickers over to the food table where people greedily devour small sandwiches and other dishes. Their mouths are twisted upwards into a cruel, satisfied grin. Some snatch the ornaments that adorn the rows of tables and stick them in the pockets of their cloaks. Others laugh musically without a hint of remorse in their faces. How many of them really knew Lei?
We leave the funeral procession behind in silence, the weight of the entire event resting on both of our shoulders. Above us, the anthem of The Underground hums softly, echoing off the cool, polished tunnel walls. I keep my gaze focused on the ground in front of us, willing myself not to cry. Shedding a tear for Lei would do nothing to benefit her, she’s already gone. The idea of death sends sharp, icy chills down my spine. When we were younger, the Elders told us that before the Plague, bodies were buried underground. That can only mean that we’re all one step closer to death.
“Do you think she’s happy?” Pax blurts, a sheepish blush spreading across his cheeks. “I-I mean, where ever we go after this-do you think she’s okay?”
He shoves his hands in the pockets of his dark slacks and sighs as if his question has lifted an unspeakable weight from his chest. Several stray strands of light brown hair tumble onto his forehead and he bats the away angrily. His hazel eyes glitter with moisture.
“Of course she is.” I lace my arm through his and press my face against his shoulder, inhaling the comforting scent of peppermint. The uncertainty in my previous statement burns in my chest and I bury myself into my brother’s jacket as warm tears begin to leak from my eyes. Fragmented memories scurry through my head, all of them featuring the same blond girl with the widest grin and twinkling blue eyes. In some, she’s clutching her precious books to her chest and in others she re-telling stories of knights and dragons and what life used to be like on The Surface.
I should have listened to my best friend. I should have listened to her so that I could have stopped her. Regrets pile up in my throat and the picture of her empty coffin resurfaces in my brain. There weren't even ashes, she was just gone.
The guilt finally grabs a hold of me and keeps me in its tight grip as I pry myself away from Pax and attempt to piece together my composure. The sound of the laughter at the funeral and Lei’s soft spoken words fill my ears like a tortuous, haunting serenade. Pax peers down at me with concern and wraps his arm comfortingly around my shoulders as we approach the gates to the Outlands. Guards stand on either side of the large grey structure, their faces wiped clean of emotion. As we approach the gate, one of them sticks his arm out and barks, “Origins?”
“We were attending a friend’s funeral in the Neverlands,” Pax states smoothly. “Leilani Emerson, perhaps you’ve heard-“
The guard cuts Pax’s sentence in half with a flick of his wrist. “Passes, please.”
He removes a gun from its holster as the both of us reluctantly roll the cuffs of our sleeves up. The guard aims his gun at my left forearm and pulls the trigger. A bright red light bursts from the end of the gun and greedily begins to scan my skin ‘til it finds the nearly invisible barcode by my wrist. Loud beeping noises erupt from the device and the barcode tattooed on my arm glows green. My profile is projected from the barcode and the guard quickly skims over my information.
|Ginnifer Goodwin||as Isis Crowe|
|James Gaisford||as Pax Crowe|
|Kit Harington||as Absolom Fay|