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Safe Now

Amy Laine

The procession walked down the aisle, carrying the tiny box, bringing what remained of him out into the open air. Katlyn followed her shaking mother, not taking in what was happening around her and watching the quick breaths leave her mother’s chest and form again in the space of a heartbeat.

Katlyn did not see his casket dropped into the ground and she did not register the hundreds of people come to say the empty words that in the end meant nothing. “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Before she knew it, she was walking across the bitter ground, the yellow grass and twigs grabbing at her black silk tights. Not a tear fell onto her rosy cheeks for she had cried them all during the countless nights before when the news was fresh and the pain even more so. Now she felt nothing.

They still didn’t know what had caused him to close his eyes and never wake up. Katlyn had been downstairs in her room when she heard her mother scream and the pounding of her father’s feet across the top floor echoed hers as she had sprinted upstairs. She saw his frail not-yet-four-year-old body in her mother’s arms that hadn’t even reached four years old. And all she remembered is the hardness of the floor as her knees gave way.

In the future she would wonder how they got home alive that night with tears coursing down her father’s face, how he had seen the road was impossible to know. She had never before seen her father cry.

When the engine died and the doors opened over the familiar driveway, her mother shut herself in the bathroom and Katlyn thought she heard the rattling of pills as her mother tried to make the pain go away. For awhile, Katlyn had nothing to do, nowhere to go. She stood in the middle of the kitchen, waiting for someone to give her a task to send her away or to simply hold her and tell her it was okay to cry again. It seemed like time would never end. 

Without even removing the itchy dress that her mother had pulled roughly over her head that morning, Katlyn moved silently into the quiet of his bedroom. There was a layer of dust over everything and Katlyn found the ridiculous idea that maybe the dust too had come to mourn his death. She stood on the threshold, staring at the empty space, listening to the echoes of his laugh and his life. They soon faded because his time on Earth hadn’t lasted very long. The click of the bathroom light made her turn around and the door creaked as her mother came out, her eyes red, her face now dry. Katlyn wanted to run into her arms but her mother did not even look up as her mother went into the bedroom and closed the door again.

Katlyn turned back to the cold room and slowly stepped in. The wave of old happiness and good times washed over her and for the first time in days, her eyes became wet with sorrow. She took another step and slowly made her way toward his small bed. She sat down with a loud thump, letting herself drop and raising the mourning dust particles. She looked upon his kingdom, his world, his trucks and books and Transformers. Then she laid her head down on his pillow and pulled the hand-stitched construction covers over her shivering body. With great difficulty she closed her eyes and after more than an hour, after she heard her father leave the couch. It wasn’t until she heard the first of the birds wake up that her breathing slowed and became even as her mind eased and she feel into a deep sleep.

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