Sunday, April 16, 2017

Tauy Creek Digest #35: Say Goodbye

Caleb and Jason walked into the funeral home. There was a decent crowd in the main entry room and where the casket was. Caleb was nervous and his leg was starting to shake and he slowed down as they went into the room with the casket with her body in it. "Are you okay? What's wrong?" Jason asked, noticing that Caleb has slowed his pace and looked like he was going to faint.

"You have no idea how much this woman scares me, Jason," Caleb breathed heavily.

"If she scares you so much then why are you here? At her funeral?"

"To make sure she's really dead," Caleb said.

Jason stood taller to see into the casket. "She's looks pretty dead."

"Good," Caleb's breathing calmed a little and he made it the rest of the way to the casket. "She looks exactly the same."

He looked at her, her dark hair lying perfectly against the silk behind her head, neck and back. Her eyes were closed so he couldn't see if they were the same bright green eyes that he loved looking into when they weren't fighting. The same eyes he saw as she pushed him down the stairs. The same eyes that looked down on him when he was in the ambulance with a broken arm, twisted knee, and three broken ribs. They had said they loved each other. He wasn't sure that was true. It may have been at some time but after the stairs, he made sure he never said it again. He finally moved out and away from her a couple months later when his ribs healed.

She was in a wispy white sundress with blue flowers on it. That was something he never saw her in. Usually she was in t-shirts and jeans with a sweatshirt over her. She was always a beautiful young woman but she could never take a compliment for it and usually covered herself up. He wondered if this dress was something she wore or if her parents chose something for her.

"I bought her that bracelet," Caleb pointed to a silver chain around her right wrist. "I'm shocked she still has it. She acted like she loved it when I first gave it to her but after we broke up, I didn't think she'd want it around anymore."

"Maybe her parents just found it and had the funeral home put it on. Maybe they didn't know who it was from."

"Maybe." Caleb looked at the end of the casket and saw a photo album placed on a table with flowers. He went over, sliding his hand along the casket, and looked through a few pages of the album. He flipped back and forth through the pages but stopped when he saw one of himself with her. It was a picture shot from below, from a nephew of hers or something like that. They both had big smiles on their faces as they looked at each other. You could see her much better than him. They were in each other's arms and actually looked in love.

"A picture of you and her?" Jason came up behind Caleb.

"Yeah. She must have liked this photo. This album is full of pictures of her that I know she liked. It is a good picture of her. We were laughing together and this kid came running in and just took the picture. It's a very candid shot. I had a copy, too. It was the only picture I had of us," Caleb revealed. "Later that night, she punched me and broke my tooth." He showed Jason the tooth, now fixed, she had broken.

"How long did you date?"

"Three years."

"I can't believe you lasted that long," Jason shook his head.

"The beatings didn't start until just after a year. I don't know what changed. Maybe she was going through some things. I don't know if she beat any of her other boyfriends," Caleb said. "Maybe it was something I did."

"I doubt that. I can't imagine you doing anything that warrants that type of abuse," Jason said. "I can't imagine anyone doing anything that warrants that kind of abuse."

Caleb went back over to the open casket and looked down at his deceased ex. "I think we can go. This is getting kind of weird now."

Caleb and Jason began leaving the viewing area. There was still a pretty good crowd throughout the funeral home. Caleb stopped at the entrance of the viewing area and turned back to the casket. "Goodbye, Nicole," he said softly, and he and Jason left the funeral home.