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      Sloane had never wanted to hear Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love" less than she did standing next to her aunt Rachel above a giant hole in the ground where her mother and father would be lowered into less than ten minutes from that moment.

      She wasn't sure who had picked the music. Most of it had been songs her parents hadn't even liked, but no one thought to ask Sloane to select songs that would play at her parents' funeral. No one had wanted to bother her. Unfortunately, hearing things like The Smiths or Bryan Adams, who her parents hadn't even liked, was bothering Sloane more than the fact that she hadn't been the one to pick out what music played in intervals between speakers. Still, even the crappy music that she assumed her father's friends had picked out was better than listening to the familiar smooth tune of one of Elvis's most popular songs.

      Because whoever had picked this song obviously knew her parents. "Can't Help Falling in Love" was their song. It was the song they had danced to at their wedding, the song that had been playing over the hospital radio when Sloane had been born, and the song that had been playing over the sound of chicken sizzling when a gas leak had engulfed their house in flames. This was the song that Sloane had grown up with her parents listening to. And while she had stayed dry-eyed throughout her aunt's speech, throughout her maternal grandmother's sobs, and throughout her pseudo-uncle's beautiful guitar solo meant for her late father, she felt the weight of it crashing into her when she heard the Elvis hit. She wasn't sure what "it" was, but she felt it closing her throat and she felt the tears forming in her eyes.

      Which was the only reasonable explanation for running out on her own parents' funeral.

      Halfway through the second verse she broke away from her aunt and rushed through the cemetery, ignoring the worried calls of various family members who had been asking her all day if she was okay. And when they had asked, she had been. She had been blissfully numb, unaware of what feeling was anymore. But the second that Elvis song had started playing, it was like this switch had been turned on and suddenly she felt everything tenfold. So, she ran until she couldn't hear the familiar tune anymore. She was on the other side of the cemetery, across the street and in front of a random florist shop that was strategically placed (because when you went to visit a grave, wouldn't the polite thing to do be bringing flowers?) and a building that looked like no one had touched it for years.

      That's where her aunt and uncle found her an hour later, sitting on the curb in front of the florist shop with a stony expression on her face. She was fairly certain the back of her dress would have dusty cement on it when she stood, but she didn't care. Sloane shifted slightly when her uncle sat next to her on the curb, throwing his arm around her. She accepted the embrace, leaning her head onto his shoulder.

Saudade ▸ Jasper HaleWhere stories live. Discover now