Cold (Story by Risa Peris)

On a cold day, they stuck him in a cold coffin in the cold ground with the cold birds fluttering in the cold trees and singing songs so heavy with cold frost that my ears froze deep in the ear canal. My sister stood next to me. Impeccable in a black coat, black dress, black tights, and black boots. I was dressed in red. I glowed with heat and happiness.

“Fare thee well,” I screamed into the vastness of a cold planet careening through a cold universe.

“Stop it,” whispered my sister harshly. The priest tightened his spine. I don’t know if it was because of the cold or my crashing voice. In any case, the words were done. No more prayers. The only other person at the burial of our father was Nigel. He had a puff of white hair and the dandiest cane I had ever seen. It was purple with a silver lion perched on the top.

“So sorry girls.” He patted down the puff and then walked off in a halting manner. The priest stared at us, unmoving, and looking bored with the spirit of the Lord and the word.

“You can go.” There was no reason for the priest to remain. The caretakers came and began piling the dirt into the cavernous hole where my awful father lay. Swish. Plunk. Swish. Plunk. Soil over soil. Bury that hard man deep. Let his body never know light again.

I twirled, stumbled on the hard ground, and then laughed.

“You’re acting like a child.” Hyacinth was so rigid. Her voice lacked power.

“You should be happy, Hyacinth. The criminal, the molester, the rapist…he’s dead.”

She glared at me. “I gave myself to him to protect you. At least, show some respect for me.”

“But he tortured you, Hyacinth.”

“I’m gravely cold, gravely ill, and gravely damaged. Our father is dead. I feel only numbness. You know…I still can’t have sex. He did some damage to me. Physically. It hurts to have sex.”

I stopped smiling and moving about happily. I knew then the gravity of the situation. Hyacinth wasn’t attending our father’s funeral but her own.

“Oh, Hyacinth…”

My words froze in the cold air. Everything stilled. Even the cold cawing of the birds ceased.

“Hyacinth.” My protector. She kept our father from me. My body weakened and I laid on the frosty ground. Time for my funeral.