Chapter 16

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This wasn’t the stereotypical funeral. There was no rain to rhythmically patter against black umbrellas and a cobble path. There was not a sea of people wearing black dresses and large black hats. There was not a Catholic preacher wearing a black robe with a jeweled cross around his neck. However poetic that may be, that’s not how it was at all. In fact, the preacher wore a green button up shirt nicely tucked into white dress pants. I refused to wear black clothes. So did the few others that were gathered around the open casket: the five boys of One Direction, Danielle, Darcy, and a girl I didn’t recognize. She was definitely pretty. She had long blonde hair with loose natural curls on the ends that showered down her back. Her eyes were a light hazel that I could distinguish even from the large distance between us. Her fair skin was the perfect mix between tan and pale. The sun set her yellow dress and her golden hair ablaze. I looked down at my own yellow dress, wondering if she wore that color for the same reason as I. It was my dear neighbor Mrs. Muck’s favorite color. Did she know Mrs. Muck well? I’d never seen her before. Mrs. Muck had never mentioned anyone. She had to be the one paying for the funeral. No one else was here but us, and I know we weren’t paying. I don’t know why she intrigued me so much. But I felt this way when I met Mrs. Muck. And I had the same feeling I did when I first laid eyes on Zayn.

Zayn. I’m still getting used to him being his old self again. It’s no problem, really. But I’ve been so used to hiding our relationship that I jump in surprise whenever he talks in public. I can tell that the others are getting used to it too. Even now, I see their eyes shift ever so often to Zayn’s arm around me, as if wondering if it’s really happening. But by the feeling I get from his warmth, I know this isn’t a dream. The closest to reality a dream has ever gotten for me is the nightmare I used to have about Zayn’s son. It still visits me while I sleep every now and then. And each time, I wake up wondering how Zayn could move on, how Zayn could forget Lesley and his son, and how he could love me.

Now the preacher is done with the message. I didn’t pay attention to a single word except for the closing “Amen”. A few random men that were probably hired for the job and had no relation to Mrs. Muck whatsoever lowered the casket until it was six feet underground. I wonder if Mrs. Muck ever felt lonely. I once more looked around at the tiny audience. They say having a few close friends is better than knowing many strangers. She surely seemed to live by that philosophy. And she seemed sincerely happy. I know she believed in God. Whenever I went to her house, she’d always make sure to pray before we ate. And she had a Bible sitting on the end-table next to her couch. Was she looking down from heaven right now? How long did it take to get to heaven? Maybe she was still on the journey there. I silently wished her luck just in case she was.

They started to shovel dirt over the casket. By now, the others left except for me and the girl. And of course, Zayn stayed right by me. How long had I stood here silent? I didn’t know. But the more dirt that covered her body, the more the realization sunk in that Mrs. Muck was gone forever. I looked up at the sky for rain clouds, but there were none. Why must the sun shine so happily? This was not a day for euphoria. This was not a day for the birds to rejoice. The clouds should cry like I have begun to cry. I see now why in the stereotypical funeral, it rains. It just makes sense.

The other girl in the yellow dress began to cry. She had a yellow daisy clutched in her hand I hadn’t noticed before. She held it out and released it into the hole that the men continued to fill with dirt. Why would she do that? She’s ruining Mrs. Muck’s favorite flower! More tears freely cascaded down my cheek, just like they did when I found out she was dead, just like they did when Zayn said he loved me for the first time. Two very different things, but they shared the same aftereffect.

So many things weren’t making sense. I didn’t cast one more look to the yellow-dress-girl.  I pulled myself free from Zayn’s arm.

I ran.

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