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Happy Mourning

"Dad is taking us to his best friend's funeral." I think and finish tying my shoes while sitting on my bed. "Naim, we leave in five minutes." Mom lets me know from downstairs, concisely. I want to answer her, but when I walk throw my room, I stop in front of my mirror. I notice my hair looks a little messy, so I proceed with fixing it.

"I have heard my dad talking about him, mentioning only good stuff." The comb scratches every thread on my head. Then, I check if my glasses are dirty. They are perfect. Not a single particle of dust on them. "I don't know why they weren't friends any longer, but dad looks distraught. He cried a lot yesterday after getting a call after lunch." I go downstairs, holding with extreme precaution the ladder grab. "Mom took me inside my room, but I sneaked out and paid close attention to every single detail."

Mom looks outside from the window in the kitchen. "It has been raining all this month in the afternoons. Do you think it's a good idea to drive like that when coming back home?" Dad just takes the keys, turning a deaf ear to Mom. She looks frustrated, so I will try not to bother her, just in case. She is no-effort irritable in the mornings. I walk toward the car, get in, and put on the fastened seat belt.

On the road, I remember their conversation. Dad just mentioned Mr. Alvar and him used to be close, and that he died from a shot in his neck.

Once we arrive, Mom puts on her hat and gets off the vehicle, looking at her reflection in the car's side mirror to adjust her rubies necklace. Here are not a lot of people, so Dad notices someone no sweat and walks toward her. Mom and I catch up and greet a woman wearing an astonishing long black dress and red gloves.

"It's good to see you, Ylva." Dad introduces Mom, and then Mom presents me. She tells the woman I am a little quiet, and that I get anxious around people I do not know. The woman softly laughs, kindly... caresses my neck, and says I am tiny: A tiny version of Dad. I have heard people saying dad looks luscious. In fact, we were walking on the street last Wednesday, and a look-like-twenty-two-year-old woman passing by murmured something with the word "succulent" in it. My tension becomes noticeable, so Mom realizes my anxiety and grabs me by my elbows. "You can go play around, if you want to."

I have already been in this tall fallen-off-paint church before, and I need to pee, so I go in direction to the bathroom as if it were my house. I do not like the church's lavatory because it is located behind the building. Every time I turn to the left, I always see the church's graveyard in the opposite direction. I hate the lugubrious and obscure tombstones over empty buried coffins that remind me I will be dead sooner or later. Probably sooner. On top of that, the cloudy weather does not help my nonconformity with the place. Suddenly, the smell of my mom's favorite cigarette brand calls my attention at the same time as I find two men talking next to the bathroom's door.

I walk by, one of them looks me in the eye, and I get in the bathroom. They seem not to mind my presence at all and keep with their conversation. "So, her death drove him that crazy... Jesus. Man, that's brutal..." While I'm washing my hands for the second time, they also mention Mr. Alvar stopped answering calls for almost three weeks and then killed himself with a shotgun he acquired from the black market. I inhale with energy due to the surprise: "The consistency's grade lessens." I look up, and the red light from the mosaic window reflects in my glasses. Once I calm down, I go out of the bathroom. One of the men looks at me too much while I walk in the distance, and I see a quick white light's project my shadow over the floor. "Good legs," I understand from his murmurs.

I see Mom sitting on a bench with Ms. Ylva, so I decide to approach them as near as possible from behind to hear what an old woman is telling them. "But the worst part goes for his daughter." She says while adjusting her animal-made fur scarf. "I imagine, Ms. Lunde. Losing both parents so fast..." Mom replies, but Ms. Lunde interrupts her at full tilt, and, with a tone of correction, she adds: "Yes, that too, but Alvar was a lunatic by the way he treated her after that bitch died." I am shocked by the strong language, but curious about the gossip. The old woman explains that, when she got custody of her granddaughter, she confessed to the police he rudely forced her to cook. Her narration is so specific that I even feel as if I were there, inside the kitchen, listening to the plates, metallic utensils, and glasses hitting each other in the dish drainer.

"NO, NO, NO!!!" He hits the sink. "Again, thinner!" She tries cutting a vegetable, but the pieces result too thick. When she achieves slicing it as requested, the slim, tall man gets mad and slaps the girl on her face. "This is not perfect; you have to be perfect!" Mr. Alvar told her they wanted to teach their daughter how to cook when she became old enough. Ms. Lunde concludes that he wanted his daughter to cook as well as his dead wife because both of them had a small, well-known restaurant, and maybe that was why he became obsessed with it.

After a few more words, Ms. Ylva mentions Mr. Alvar killed himself by shooting at his own neck, to which the old woman replies: "How selfish! Killing himself just like that, as stealing a bone from a dog's snout." Unconsciously, I walk closer, and mom notices me but says nothing. She hates I am a sneaking-out expert. I guess my smartest course of action is to leave to avoid infuriating her.

I see a cigarette butt next to a two-meter car, and I step the tip of my shoe on it as Dad taught me. As a consequence, I detect two men lying back on the front part of the vehicle saying they found a handsome palatable specimen and proceeds to show his friend something from his phone. I am not able to distinguish the image, but my curiosity is wise, so I crouch and gain some distance until I get far enough.

I run into my father, who is standing and smoking under a tree with one of his best friends, and stand next to him. Dad says that Mr. Alvar's wife was the cause for them to get distant because she thought my father could influence Mr. Alvar to smoke and drink, and that could fry his brain. Dad has a master's degree in architecture, but that did not change her mind. So, she kept pushing his friends away.

"How did you feel when you were told his wife put a bullet inside their newborn's head?" My father's friend asks, and Dad replies: "Unsatisfied because she killed herself just after it." His friend helps re-lighting Dad's cigarette, and both of them get a hit from their own. The conversation goes on until the other man refers to the food after the funeral Mr. Alvar's family is offering for tomorrow. Dad says that it would be a lack of respect rejecting being part of the mourning period with his best friend's relatives. My excitement calls my father's attention, and he smiles.

"Naim, go inside the church and pray for the coffin." He pats my back, and I obey. When I enter the building, I stand in line as the last one, behind an old man who smells like old soap and old clothes. This village is extremely loyal to its Norwegian traditions. For that reason, only one person at a time might pray for the coffin. There are not many, but Mr. Alvar's relatives' cries extend to every single corner inside the building. The line moves, and the old man's turn arrives. I stay still, look at the orangish mosaics, and get distracted by thinking of Mr. Alvar's situation. I cannot believe all the stress he was under. That was not good for his health and muscles.

"Thanks, God, for keeping him practically intact." I hear the old man finishing praying, and then he abandons the spot. Now, I put my hands together because it is my turn to approach the coffin, see the body, and express my gratitude. "Even when missing the best part, God, thanks for the food." I head down and continue praying. "I love knowing where my next meal has been."

31 Mars 2024 19:11 0 Rapport Incorporer Suivre l’histoire
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A propos de l’auteur

Erick Valverde ¡Hola, es un placer tenerte por acá! ¿Pasando a ver? ¡Espero encuentres algo de tu agrado! Comparto mis escritos para no dejarlos en el olvido. Soy profesor de inglés y suelo traducir mis obras. Exembajador. ♥️

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