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After the Silence
By Jeremy DeVaughn
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Rated "PG" by the Author.
A man makes a deal with God at a funeral. Does it work?
THERE exists no solace in silence. That seems to be one of those universal constants that befalls the seconds preceding any major disaster. For this reason, I was terrified. Silence had devoured every noise that, otherwise, would have erupted within earshot. From my experience, I’ve determined that the greater the degree of silence, the greater the danger that ensues.
And in these moments, no sound could be heard, at all. I tried to breathe heavily, just to break the silence and hopefully damage the eerie environment. The only result of this vain attempt was an increase in tension, an increase in pain - not exactly what I was going for. My heart sank every time that I looked down into that open casket. Her face still maintained a radiant glow – no death in her pallid face.
A monster brewed in the pit of my stomach. I refused to regurgitate. I had to, by some token, tame the beast in my belly, but nothing seemed to suffice. I did, however, fight back the beast enough to prevent myself from vomiting. All these semi-familiar faces glared at me, accusing me. They all seemed to cry “This was your fault!” I couldn’t bear the implied accusations. I had to ignore all of the glaring eyes. Ignore them! Don't let them get to you.
My God, Audrey looked gorgeous. Whoever prepared the body did an amazing job. She held a beautiful smile perched perfectly on her face. I always loved that smile. Reminded me of “the good old days”. Audrey would play with Julie everyday, while I was gone to work. Julie was devastated when she found her mother lying lifeless on the kitchen floor. The child will be scarred for life. I despise the persistence of memory. In all retrospectives, it seems that negative memories are more enduring than the euphoric memories.
I told Julie that she couldn't come look at the casket. Julie was too sweet and innocent to be exposed to this death. Usually, a man teaches his child about death when a pet takes the dirt nap. I hadn't been quite so lucky. Still, Julie implored me to let her “see Mommy one more time.” I determined that I couldn't keep her from one last memory - albeit a haunting one. At length, I held little Julie up to her mother’s lifeless face. A smile grew on her innocent little mouth.
“She’s in heaven…isn’t she, daddy?” she asked, looking at me. That innocent face always left me breathless. The child needed hope. She needed it now more than ever.
“Yes, Sweetie,” I told her, “She’s in heaven.” I felt a cold tear roll down my cheek. Julie didn’t notice. She was too busy hovering over her mother’s corpse. “All right. Time for you to go sit in the other room. Okay?” Julie nodded, obediently. So sweet.
When Julie left the room, that cursed, eerie calm hovered about the room, yet again. The room had been so cold, but, suddenly, a peculiar warmth flooded the room. Warmth, in most cases, would be a cause for the alleviation of my fear. This warmth didn’t give me peace, though. The warmth coupled with the silence just terrified me, even more. At least the cold atmosphere had left implications of death. The warmth left a peculiar feeling of life. Not quite the apt atmosphere of a funeral home.
I drifted into another room. I couldn't stand the warmth of the room, anymore. Besides that, I needed time away from the cold, accusing faces. I sat down on a soft armchair and did something that I hadn't done in twelve years: I prayed. My prayer went something like this: God...If you can hear me...I implore you...Take me instead. Take me and give back Audrey. Please. I'll trade my soul for hers.
I closed out the prayer and wandered back into the room that housed my wife's casket. The warmth still hung about the room like a thick fog. Every fiber of my being desired for the return of life into the beautiful creature that lay lifeless in the box-bed in front of me.
I’d have given anything to break the silence, at that point. But the silence remained - oh, cruel fate! - unbroken. I noticed that Audrey’s face was not abnormally pale. Her face’s pallid quality was completely natural. It appeared, in fact, that her body had not been “touched up”, at all. Perhaps, it hadn’t even been prepared. I gazed, utterly confused, into Audrey’s face.
Suddenly, her eyes sprang open, and she gasped for air. “Jesus Christ!” I yelled. My heart nearly exploded in my chest. My God…Audrey was alive. Julie came running in with a huge smile on her face. Audrey sat up in the casket and began coughing – pun not intended. Rapturous tears streamed down Julie’s dimpled cheeks.
“Mommy’s back!” she cheered. Words escaped me. No thoughts could materialize except for the incessant HOW? Julie looked up at me with those lovely eyes. The innocence had rushed back into her face. I could see it. Then, she told me, “I prayed for mommy. I asked God to give her back to us. It worked, daddy!”
Hmm…God's a mysterious fellow. Maybe He admired Julie's innocence and sweet persuasion. I'd asked for God to take me and give Audrey back, but it seemed that God didn't reply until Julie asked...and she hadn't even offered anything in return.
I began to weep. I didn’t care how it’d happened or why it’d happened. My love was back within my reach, and I was not going to let her go, again. Half-dazed, I helped her out of the casket. I completely ignored all the shocked faces around the room – a couple of people even fainted, I think. “Oh my God, Audrey…I can’t believe you’re alive.” Audrey began to grin.
The three of us, a family, exited the funeral home. We were whole, again. We were perfect. Unbroken and invincible. Audrey seemed bothered, though. Perhaps she was just shaken up about the premature burial. I knew that I would’ve been pretty shaken up, had it been me. Still, Audrey looked like she wanted to tell me something. But what? I'd wait and ask her in the car.
I walked around to the driver’s side of our small car, parked on the side of the road. Suddenly, I heard the squeal of tires, and Audrey screamed, “Look out!”
Apparently, God took my offer...rather than merely answering my daughter's prayer.
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|Reviewed by Tabitha Carter
|Definitely a good writer, good with bigger words than I like, so thats great for you and others!!! I liked the shock. I liked the "End" as if there isnt more...but could be....if u wrote it.|
|Reviewed by Joshua Scribner
|This went a different way than I thought it would, which is something I like in a story. I was a little tense, thinking the little girl might be the one, that she might have also made an offer and not said so. Good job.|