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JULIET'S FUNERAL WAS something of an occasion.

            Juliet's family—the Yancys—were royalty in my eyes. They were rich, they lived in the old heart of town, they had a worker for every chore imaginable, they had a mansion and most of all, they had Juliet. She was a pearl, I think. She was a glittering and perfect thing caught in between the hard shell of her miserable life and it was me that found her, it was me that pried open the trap she was born in.

            Her parents were nothing I imagined them to be. I thought they'd be grand or extravagant, but they weren't. They were sleek. Their faces were as white as Juliet's, as solid and smooth as ivory. Their eyes were as hard as stone when they saw me. Mr. Yancy looked just like Mrs. Yancy. Both of them had an ascetic quality to them, something about them suggested a lack of humanity.

            Her funeral was tasteful. I might even go so far as to say stylish. There was no hysteric sobbing, no weeping, no overly sentimental eulogies. It was like a business meeting—professional in its efficiency. It was a closed casket funeral. They had no pictures. Was it because they believed it was suicide and it was somehow shameful to show off a body Juliet had wanted dead? I want to say that it snowed, or rained, that the day was overcast, but the worst of the winter had already passed by the time Juliet's body was ready for her funeral.

            My parents and I were invited, though the Yancys hardly knew us. My parents and Juliet's parents had nothing in common, not even ethnicity. The Yancys were white, through and through, not a single drop of colored blood in their lily white veins. Their friends, their associates—all of them were white. I was the brownest person at Juliet's funeral. No one spared a glance for me. I didn't really mind. I wore Juliet's polo t-shirt under my black jacket, the one she left at my house a few weeks before she'd died.

            I saw Rachel and Olivia and Wilhelmina, gathered round in a tight little corner and solemnly staring at each other. They nodded at me, acknowledged me, for what, I don't know. A few others from school showed up too, but none of them were the person I was looking for.

            Before I'd arrived, I'd called Hyun and asked him if he wanted to come with me to Juliet's funeral, but he'd declined.

            "I'd rather die than hang out with a sea of white people," he'd said. "Sorry. Bad joke to make, considering the circumstances."

            "Olivia will be there," I'd said, trying to use whatever dredges of his crush on Olivia were left.

            "Who gives a shit about Olivia? I've moved onto better things. Greener pastures and shit." After a pause, he added, "I'm sorry about what happened to Jules, I really am. But I don't think she'd want you to go to a funeral full of people she hated."

            "I don't have a choice. I have to see it."

            "You do have a choice. Come over. We can watch some movies. Listen to music."

            "I can't."

            Hyun sighed, his breath crackling through on my end of the phone. "Suit yourself. Tell Jules I said hi."

            And he hung up. And now I was here, in a funeral, awkwardly fiddling with my buttons as Juliet's father delivered a eulogy so dry I thought it was more of a statement rather than a speech.

            "We will miss Juliet," he read out, from a sheet of paper, "because she brought color to our lives. Words cannot convey to you the grief I feel, knowing that my youngest daughter, whom I hoped would outlive my wife, my children and I, would be buried before us all." He looked at us, the audience, and looked at his paper again. "She used to go out with her friends a lot—" here, I coughed into my hand because I knew full well Juliet had few friends— "and to think that I won't find her sitting in her room after I come back from work—" I coughed again and Rachel glared at me— "is a painful fact I am reminded of, as I stand here. I will miss her, more than I can bear."         

            He said this all in a voice that betrayed no hint of grief, not even a smidgen of sadness. He didn't mention suicide. His tone was bland, the voice of lawyers and bankers everywhere.

            "I am sure that the people gathered here," he said, "will miss her too."

            I excused myself and locked myself in the church bathroom and I wanted to stay inside till I was sure the funeral was over. I wanted to drink the champagne, but it looked too much like fizzy piss in a flute of glass and I wasn't sure if it was worth it if I got caught by my parents.

            What a funeral.

            I couldn't stand it. I couldn't stand another second of it. Hyun was right. Juliet wouldn't have wanted me to go there. I called my parents from inside the bathroom stall of the church, and I asked them if I could walk home. They said yes.

            On the way home, I didn't think of Juliet at all. I didn't think of her family who I'd thought of as some distant beings somehow being worse than what I'd imagined. I didn't think of how my body odor was going to get rid of whatever traces of Juliet I had left. I refused to think. I walked, stared at the frost between the fissures in the sidewalk and I took one step after the other till I reached my house, my room.

            I peeled off my jacket. I took off my shirt. Was it mine, now? Was it still Juliet's? The dead have no possessions. They only possess, like ghosts.

            I wanted Juliet to possess me.

            She was here and then she was gone. Pearl made pearl dust made dust made soil. In a few years, the girl who knew me better than I knew myself would be nothing more than skin stretched over bone, six feet under the ground. I didn't need champagne to get drunk; I could get drunk off of grief.

            I'd almost deluded myself into believing that Juliet had killed herself. But she didn't. She would never.

            I should know. I saw it.








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a/n: ya just take this

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