“Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.” -Shakespeare, William (1599). Julius Caesar. (Act II, Scene ii).
The affiche was a beautiful charcoal image of Noelani along with the words “Exequies for Noelani Volkov”.
The attached shoddy and bulky black arrow pointing from the hallway into the room, Nadia found herself in, only served to escalate her tension to aggravation.
Nadia drew her eyes back up to the charcoal image of Noelani, her sister, her twin, the one person in the world she thought would always be there.
Devastated she soaked in the features of the image, as if they were alien to her.
She saw that face every morning in the mirror but it was not Noelani and she unlike so many others knew that without a second to consider.
It was fitting that the last image of her sister was in black and white. Nadia thought to herself. Today was a very clear day, everything was black and white.
No middle ground or gray areas for her today.
“Guess there never are…” Nadia accidentally mumbled, catching herself and snapping her mind back to focus.
She could hear it again. The horrible sound of pain and anguish. The sound that has torn her soul apart since they found out.
“Mother, it’s going to be ok. I am here. We have to be strong for Noe.” She tried to comfort her mother as she turned and adjusted her sitting so she could
place an arm around the sobbing woman.
“My baby… I just don’t understand… How…” Georgiyena attempted to speak and cry at the same time. Many thoughts and emotions consumed her. Unlike her daughter
Nadia today was not clear. She had so many unanswered questions. The mother’s fury boiled her blood and fueled a rage in her spirit that forced an uncontrollable
fit of barely comprehensible speech while radiating the dispiritedness of her situation.
To anyone who has not been through the loss of someone dear, or close, it is hard to describe the bizarre since of time dilation that occurs during this formal functions.
The stress and anxiety of working with the details of providing for the last wishes of a loved one combined with things like the Kappa effect create the illusion of a long and tortuous time;
that one has to push through and survive before they can even begin to truly grieve for the loss they have suffered.
“Nadia..” Georgiyena said in a eire moment of calm and steadiness. ” how did we get here?”
Nadia taken aback and with a shiver of cold icy emotion reacted just as calmly “Mother, we flew in last night and I drove you here. Are you ok? Do you kno…”
“No!” Georgiyena sharply cut Nadia off, then reverted back to a calm and collective speech ” How did we get right here? I got the phone call just on Sunday that she was gone. We found out Tuesday her Will
had been changed a month ago to all of this…” she motioned in a exasperated and defeated manner ” Then, we find out that she has been cremated, no autopsy…” her composure evaporated and the pain consumed her again.
The sobbing returned and the rest of her words became unintelligible.
Nadia, stunned, realised today was not the day she had thought. It wasn’t as easy as, show up, be strong for mother, say goodbye. Mother was right. So much was wrong here and her own grief had been forcing her to not face it.
Nadia grabbed her mother, held her tight, and with her lips close to her left ear “I have no clue mother what the hell has happened here. I cannot for the life of me fathom why. I do know this though, God choose our family to bare this burden.
As you always taught us, he doesn’t give us more than we can handle. So, I promise you answers mother. I will find answers. You are right not one piece of this makes any damn sense.” With that they both cried as if the water flowing from their eyes
was holy water sent to wash the pain away.
A few minutes later a loud knock a the door echoed into the room followed by a curt and emotionless voice “Ladies, there is a bunch of people out here waiting on you two. If you are ready, we need to get this thing going.”
Nadia glanced up at the door, while holding her mother even tighter as if telling her not to react. The man she saw standing in the door was medium height, extremely heavy for his build and balding. Everything about this man
including the way he just addressed her mother and herself; instantly pissed Nadia off.
Nadia stood, straightened her black veil and dress. Then quickly turned to her mother and gave her a quick straighten and more tissues. Finally she approached the man in the door and extended her right hand. “Noelani’s sister, Nadia.” she greeted.
The man started to turn back to the crowd of friend and family ignoring Nadia’s gesture. “I am Noelani’s boss, Mr. Everett Corporal. She was a good employee.” now facing the crowd “Come on in ladies and gentlemen, I think the family is finally ready.” heavily emphasizing the word finally.
Nadia turned to walk back to her mother “Verpa!”
The ceremony went off with out any other major incidents. Nadia was able to support her mother through the long line of friends and family the entire time distracting her from obsessing over the plain white urn they had stored Noelani’s ashes in. Nadia though by the end of the night was blinded by her own rage, curiosity, and more emotion than she had felt in her entire life. Her mother had broken through to her like only Noelani had previously with that outburst earlier. It bothered her that she hadn’t felt that connection with her mother until now. It was troublesome that she no longer could share the connection with her sister or share the break through with her either. Noelani had always been closer to mother, only because she could relate and understand her better. Now they shared something, a loss. Now they could relate.
Nadia had just checked on her mother in the car and saw she was sound asleep, worn out, exhausted, and drained in every imaginable context, her mother had simple given up to the desire for sleep. Nadia balled a coat up and placed between the window and her head as a pillow. She then continued to as quietly as possible to pack flowers, cards, and finally Noelani into the rental. She wondered how she herself was still moving at this point and concluded that it was pure adrenaline.
Nadia missed her life back home. How things were before she called her mother back. She pondered as she entered the funeral home for the last trip to grab Noelani. Here in this small town in the mountains everything seemed backwards. Their hotel still had a TV with a cable box on top and the TV was a small screen but heavy cathode ray tube one. The roads looked like that hadn’t been paved in decades. She swore she saw a gas station that didn’t even take credit cards at the pump. By far the worse first world problem she suffered was the lack of cell phone signal. With out a connection to the internet she could not communicate with Pythia. That alone made her feel naked and vulnerable.
By now she had reached Noelani. The ‘nice’ older lady who ran the funeral home sat her on a small table in front of a large mirror in the halway. Since it was closing time and they needed to ‘secure’ all their rooms.
“Sorry, sis, I just can’t stand the out-of-towner treatment.” Nadia spoke softly as she picked Noelani up. For a spare second she felt like she was hugging her sister again, though she knew that was far from the truth.
Her eyes turned back to the mirror to see a tall, short haired, handsome, african-american man standing behind her about thirty to forty feet away. He had a somber sympathetic but friendly half grin on his face. He began to turn and so did she.
“Excus…” Nadia couldn’t finish her two words before he walked into where she presumed should be a locked polar.
Nadia carried Noelani with her down to the exact door she figured he would have had to go into.
It was locked.
She couldn’t remember hearing any sound like a door opening or closing.
The small window into the polar clearly showed the lights were off.
At this point her hairs on the back of her upper neck were raised and her gut told her it was best to leave. She quickly turned and walked back out to her car.
After buckling Noelani into one of the back seats, she sat in the drivers seat and out of habit plugged her cell phone in to charge.
“one hundred percent” she chuckled. Of course it was still full, no signal to burn up battery with. Then she noticed something. She had one new message.
Curiosity, long stressful day, and a what else can happen attitude drew her finger to opening the message.
The message simply read:
aka Soulbound Heart