WIP: Unmasked (Working Title)

This is the prologue to one of the two pieces I’m working on at present. Because I’m feeling somewhat nerdish, I thought I would share. I hope you enjoy this snippet as much as I did writing it. 

Celeste

July 1978

            Funerals were always dark and somber occasions filled with useless chatter about how good a person was, all the good things they did and comforting words void of real depth or feeling.  Today Hillsborough’s one hundred and two year old church was again packed with a menagerie of visitors mourning the death of a beloved friend, colleague, and family member.

Sunlight streamed through the stained-glass windows and streaked the church with a multihued display of light. A bounty of floral sprays and bouquets lined the orchestra’s small section to the right of the altar. In the center, the dark, oak casket stood closed, draped in daffodils. Too bad the recipient couldn’t see how beautiful they rested against the dark, polished wood.

Brianna observed the proceedings from the front pew. If she moved forward, she could reach out and touch the polished surface of the coffin, but she didn’t. She sat hidden behind a veil of ebony tulle and a broad-brimmed hat. Her hands folded uncomfortably, yet properly, in her lap.  Her blue eyes betrayed nothing. No tears, nor fears, not even remorse.

“It’s a beautiful day for a funeral isn’t it?” A voice broke the silence.

“At least the Lord spared us rain,” said a plump blond woman bumping into a pew behind her. “We didn’t need any more rain. My poor begonias are plum drenched from all that we got last week. And the hail. Couldn’t believe any survived.”

“I know what you mean. Insurance company is probably going to go up on the premiums again. This makes a second new roof and a third windshield in my suburban in the past two years.”

It was enough. She turned and glared at the two women behind her. “Do you mind?” she hissed. “This is hardly the time or place to be carrying on about such matters,” she said in her best grown up voice.

The pair had the good sense to look apologetic. “Oh, I’m terribly sorry ma’am,” said the blonde. “Were you close?

Close? Yes, Brianna thought. Very close. But the women didn’t need to know that. She scarcely nodded and resumed staring at the daffodils. They looked especially jaunty today. Her father would have been pleased. There were forty four laid lengthwise across the casket and another bouquet of forty four in a large copper urn near the podium where people read things from the Book.

Slowly, people rose to their feet as a morose sounding pipe organ bid family members entrance. Great Uncle Douglas, Aunt Cheryl, Aunt Amanda and Mother slid in the pew next to Brianna. She chose not to be in the processional. She didn’t want to face a sea of faces. Turning her back to the pity was how she coped.

“Brianna? Are you okay?” her mother asked, pulling her close.

She nodded stiffly. “Yes ma’am. Just fine.”

But she didn’t feel fine. She felt worse after realizing she just lied to her mother in church. She looked around. Bolts of lightning didn’t thrust through the air at her nor did the ground open up and swallow her. Maybe God wasn’t listening. Maybe God wasn’t even there.

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