"You guys are made for each other"
"I know right! How cute!", squealed another.
The cliche made me sigh. I gave a pretense of a grin, as my typical husband smirked and said no more. The aunts who had to gossip continued.
This arranged marriage was for benefits; that I kept telling myself.
My dad who stood a few meters away hadn't taken his eyes off my gaze, and was not enjoying this glorious engagement function as much as me.
I knew what to do.
This marriage was so made for each other.
Because I was made to kill him.
To love me.
"Because I don't want to!"
I screamed inside. My soul of silence filled the graveyard. It had only been a week, yet how difficult it seemed to tolerate this silence; without her, life seemed unreal. It felt a second before when she would be laughing whilst cooking her favorite turkey roast.
The scent rushed across my mind, like a heavy wind of memories.
The church bells rang.
I didn't get up, though it was time to leave. Creepy crawlies and bugs kept me company while I sat with my head on her tombstone, talking to her.
A moment of silence for those who thought I would be crying.
No, I hadn't been.
It had been an eerie shock when the news reached me. I had been at class, doing my survey on the new botany assignment, alongside Henry, when the assistant from the office came for me. Her eyes looked wide and nervous like a spider had bit her and that was no normal one.
Expecting her silly brain and those dumb stories, I thought it would be another cliche.
When I found our driver outside in the car.
He expressed a breakdown as he met my gaze.
And before I realized it, I had turned numb.
"Everything happened so fast, mom. It was your funeral one day, the sudden barging in of many relatives I hadn't seen for years. All in white and silence; expressing their depression, their shock rather than thinking of what we would be going through. Why, even Uncle Ben had a lot to say; not a word about all his loans, thank god. It had been you and him, during those childhood days."
I hadn't cried even then.
Until my mom's body was taken up for washing.
Being her only daughter, I was asked to do it.
"I couldn't control myself then. It had to be........the last time I would touch you. It's funny mom. How life takes us through this whirlwind when we least expect it"
It felt like a stone was squeezing its way through my heart.
Yes, this was it.
She is gone.
She was gone.
I couldn't believe the reality that my blood started to boil again. It lit in the adrenaline rush it had been having for the past whole week. Those pills beside my nightstand were what put me to sleep. I tried to grab them here, but they were weeds. All around her. All around me.
My clenched fists smacked the wetland.
I missed her.
When she had been there, it was worth every moment when I teased her and didn't leave her side.
But today, the worst had arrived.
And I still couldn't take it to heart.
"Come back, if it's possible", I held her tombstone softly and caressed the calcium carbonate, wet by the rain.
"I will be here always"
"Where were you?'
"At Emma's place"
I got inside, wet and dripping. He gave me a towel and started to dry my hair.
"Get a shower, Anna"
"Then eat the food I ordered."
'I am not hungry"
"It's your favorite cake"
"I don't like cake"
"Then the fried chicken?'
"I'm planning a diet"
"You got school tomorrow"
Drenched wet, a sneeze came along very naturally and my eyes met his. Dad became a poor dad. Nothing like who he had been. And I couldn't blame him.
He was the pompous fresh businessman who was known for being the husband of Margaret Thomas; the clerk and most paid assistant manager in the rich household of Aiden's; the famous golden and richest gossip of our city. How could I blame anyone else when my mom rushed from a simple cafe barista to an assistant in one day.
I knew she would make the headlines of very market and neighbour gossip, that I often faced it with pride like I wanted to.
So did my dad.
He loved her to the core of his heart.
His business flourished because of her fame and he even took her out on a date once!
It was a beautiful phase of our life.
Everything had come into place. Our loans were half gone, my education had been resumed, so did my mom and dad's working. All had taken the fresh pages of a new book, when someone unknowingly came with a cursed eye and tore away the chapter of mom.
My dad looked like a ghost now.
I; a numb soul.
My eyes were exhausted from lack of tears but his?
They were burst in dark circles, and pained in excessive breakdowns.
He was suffering.
And I shouldn't be a bad daughter and cling to more pain.
"I will eat"
"I will shower"
I made out those words like a speech memorized deep inside.
He lifted his lips slightly and took away the wet towel,
"If you wanna cry Anna, cry"
My heart was engulfing every emotion, carrying its weight in a sack. The minute the fabric gave way, I would be bawling day and night. Until then, not a tear, not a little did I mark a depression. It had stopped. My overflow of feelings had constructed a dam.
"Seeing you like this.....makes me..."
His voice broke. A tear fell from my dad's eyes.
"I'm fine..", I lied blatantly and took a chicken leg from the table, crushing it down.
It took me a few seconds to push it down my throat.
That lightened up my dad a little.
"Eat Anna-a-a-a....and get back on track-k-k...at least you should-d-d-d..", he was crying with every passing second, breaking his voice, his barriers and his thoughts.
Inside, he must have been dying.
I found mom's shawl wrapped around his neck.
"Dad, I'm fine...I will get back on-"
A bunch of green muck rushed out of my throat, dirtying the wet floor. I stood, still and shocked on finding the same liquid that had been inviting toilets for few days, now was on the floor, before my broken dad.
My legs gave way.
I fell on the floor and started wiping it with my sleeves.
Embarrassed, I wiped harder and made it all over my clothes.
'Dad, I'm fine"
I took the chicken box and ran to my room.
Then locked it behind me.
My eyes went to the chicken box.
And unlike when I would be gobbling down tons of it, on Fridays with mom and dad under a happy roof, I thought today.
What would the kids of this chicken think?
Their mom was fried off?
Just like that?
My appetite thrashed.
I rushed to the toilet to puke more.
It was another insomniac night.