A modern take on the classic Cinderella
My heart hammered so loudly in my chest I was sure everyone could hear its shrill ostinato rhythm. My eyes glazed over so I wasn’t really looking at the scene as they lowered the coffin into the grave. My ears blocked out all the sounds of serious voices and quiet weeping. I tried for the fifteenth time to swallow the stubborn lump in my throat, with no avail. I’d never been to a funeral before, but I was positive I never wanted to go to another ever again.
My dad put his arm around my shoulder and kissed my forehead, he rubbed my arms and forced a smile; I looked away from him as the tears spilt over again. I was pleased I’d opted for waterproof mascara; I wiped my cheeks with my sleeve and took a deep breath as an influx of people came to offer their condolences. I just nodded and tried to pretend I was acting in a play - it was somehow easier that way…
As the crowd disappeared, I was left standing at a bench outside the church; I gazed out in the direction of my mother’s grave.
“I love you, Mum,” I whispered, choked.
Dad was waving cars off a short distance away. I wondered if, like me, he had pretended he was an actor too. I wondered how he was coping.
I sat down heavily and let my mind wander for a while. Images of Mum flicked through my mind, like a slideshow of photographs left on automatic. I felt a little detached from them - perhaps an effect of the pretending this wasn’t reality? When I started to long for familiar arms around me, I tore myself away from the memories and stood up. I decided to go for a long walk in the church’s beautiful gardens.
Dad and I returned home that evening in silence, today had been a trialling day but I was pleased it was over. Dad switched on the TV and flicked through the endless channels as I fetched some crisps and a glass of wine for Dad. I snuggled into his embrace and tried to turn my attention to the 10 o’clock news; he hadn’t said anything since we’d been home.
“Do you miss her?” I asked him quietly; I felt him take a sharp intake of breath.
“Every minute of every day,” he whispered, “But we can’t live in the past, my Belle.”
“I just can’t believe she’s gone,” I said as another tear slid down my cheek; I didn’t wipe it away this time.
“We knew the time was coming, she told us to be strong…remember?”
“It’s justsohard!” I cried; he kissed my forehead again.
“We can be strong together,” he told me. I looked back towards the TV and tried to immerse myself in the outer world, a world where no one knew my mum had died - a world still normal. The newsreader arranged her papers whilst looking directly into the camera; she began to read from the script:
“And yet again our mischievous Prince James has been photographed in a nightclub in Chelsea; how long will the King tolerate his behaviour for? We have a press statement from him now…” The screen cut to King William speaking, “As a King I cannot condole this behaviour, it is disrespectful and erroneous, but as a Father I cannot stop my son from behaving like a normal teenager, boys will be boys…” he smiled and the camera flicked back to the newsreader; she smiled at the King’s comment. “Well, better to be a teenager now than act immaturely during a crisis,” she said, to wrap up that particular story.
“I’m going to bed,” I said, getting up slowly.
“You’re not interested in the royal gossip?” my father attempted a joke.
“Not one bit, but Wills is right, he should let his son be normal,” I added.
“Princes are far from normal,” my father muttered.
“Anyway,” I said loudly, “night.” I climbed the stairs slowly and fell into my bed, it hadn’t been made since mum died and it didn’t smell right. I buried my head into the pillow and tried to find sleep, instead my mind swirled around in a sea of emptiness.