We have all experienced the loss of a dearly-held work-this is in memory of all of the collaborative stories that have found no end. RIP.
"Dear brothers, sisters, and friends, we are gathered here today in remembrance."
The service leader's voice reaches you but the sensation ruling your mind is the feeling of the cold, blurring rain on your skin.
You open your eyes and look again at the gleaming black casket, the pattern engraved in its surface. It looks familiar, but in your state of grief you fail to recognize it.
So much opportunity. Lost, forever.
You had thought things would have ended differently. That the hours of contemplation and correspondence could have kept this from happening.
But you had been wrong.
You manage to look around once more as the man's speech draws to an end.
Some of your companions stand beside you. They seem to share your very thoughts.
"I'd like to speak." you manage to say, swallowing on a dry throat.
You walk up to the edge of the grave, where the soil starts crumbling at the edge of your toes and falls down towards the coffin. It takes all of the strength inside of you to pull your gaze away from the sight and to the eyes of the group.
"I...I knew the deceased party for quite some time," you begin, wiping at your tears, "Even before...even before I formally met them, a part of them existed in me. It-it's hard to describe."
You pause, taking a deep breath, before continuing.
"They weren't simply an individual story, a life from start to finish. They were something so much more than that...they were an idea. An entire world, a universe. Beautiful, raw, passionate. Every single day with them was a privilege, full of endless possibility and inspiration...and then...and then it all...stopped."
Many from the party seem disturbed but you press on, drawing on your feelings for strength.
"Something horrible happened. It was an accident....had to have been. The cascade of words and emotions and intensity died to a trickle, desperate and wanting, and I was...terrified. I spent sleepless nights at their bedside, holding their hand, urging them to survive. I tried my best, to bring them back. I tried my best!"
A deep bitterness spreads through you and you point blatantly at someone in the crowd, seething with anger.
"You, on the other hand, left them to die! As soon as things became even the least bit difficult you abandoned us! You quit!"
Multiple persons urge you gently away from the podium, trying to soothe you.
You brush their hands away and let your rose drop onto the casket six feet below the ground.
As you do the others, who had been silent for the ceremony, do so too with their own flowers.
You see among them some who had also tried in vain to save the deceased, and others who had provided unfailing support throughout.
When all but the engraving is covered with crimson, you are handed the silver shovel.
Your hands are steady when you take the first heap of freshly removed earth and let it drop onto the coffin.
The one you had accused of cowardice is missing, you notice.
You feel a hint of guilt. They had reasons for leaving, you already know that. They had lives to live.
Something comes into your mind and you procure a candle from your coat, lighting it with a match.
The flame burns through the rain.
In that moment you remember what the engraving on the casket reminded you of.
It was the faint, watermark grey stamp that marked the true end of a work. The stamp that your collaborative could never receive.
But the idea, the philosophy...it would live on, like the fluttering warmth of your candle.