Slowly the coffin was lowered deep into the hands of the unknown. With every inch of its descent her heart shattered into tiny fragments of despair until it was no more than the spoken word of dust. The sweet melody of Celine Dion’s voice masked the sound of Flic’s cry. A breath caught in her throat, as she gulped back yet another sob.
“…ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”
The finality of the celebrant’s words ripped through her. Of course, she’d heard them spoken at other funerals, but never had they affected her as they did that day.
A gentle tug at her hand indicated the time to move. Clinging to her mother, Sally, and clutching a delicate white rose, Flic made her way to the edge of the dark host now encumbering the white box. Her vision blurred as tears overflowed, slid down her face, and fell to meet freshly dug earth. The smell of the soil invaded her senses. A wave of nausea washed over her, as she struggled to remain standing.
Why? She wanted to scream, knowing no sound would emerge as her body failed to cooperate with her mind. Instead, the silent cry of anguish left her scathed from the inside out.
The flower fell. Flic wished for unicity with its destination, but life was not so kind to grant it. The promise of misery was her future and no begging or pleading could change that. Flic closed her eyes willing them never to open, but knew when they did the purpose of her being would remain void.
“Come Flic,” Sally coaxed.
Flic moved far enough from the graves edge to wait as others paid their last respects before approaching her to offer condolences. The process was a blur, one face blended with the next, as did the sincerity of their grief.
“The family would like to invite you back to their home for refreshments,” the celebrant announced.
Panic took hold and she shook her head as her legs gave way. Sinking to the ground Flic welcomed the cool of the grass on her bare skin and through the thin fabric of her dress. She wasn’t ready to leave. She would never be ready to leave.
“Flic, we have to go now love.” Sally offered her hand. “Flic.”
“I can’t, please let me stay with her. Please.”
When the last person left, and Flic was alone, the events of the past few days played like a show reel, equipped with audio, in her mind.
Ellie’s perfect little face smiled up at her as she applied the finishing touches to her makeup.
“You look so pretty Mummy.”
“Not as pretty as you my angel.”
The pain of the memory sliced deep. Flic sunk into the grass until she lay curled up in the foetal position.
She had no one to blame but herself. Jason admitted to having a few bourbons, but promised he wouldn’t drink anymore whilst she was out.
Was it too much to want a night off, to go out with the girls? Her selfishness had cost her everything she held dear. Ellie was gone and never coming back.
Flic knew the cemetery workers would return soon. She didn’t have the strength to witness her baby being buried, but couldn’t leave her alone either. Dragging her weary body to a sitting position she looked around hoping to find somewhere, not too far away, to sit and wait out the inevitable. Spotting a weeping willow she invested the remainder of her energy to stand and walk toward it. Exhausted she leaned against its trunk and slid the distance to the ground. The canopy provided a thick enough layer to obscure her view, but not to conceal her presence entirely.
With head resting back and her eyes closed, she pictured Ellie cupping her cheeks between soft, tiny hands, head tilted forward, touching her nose to Flic’s.
How she longed to hold Ellie in her arms, to savour her touch, the smell of her hair, and warmth of her soft skin. She would do anything—give anything—if only it were possible. What would she do without her? Ellie was her life.
The thought of going home without her was unbearable. The home she’d loved now just a house, the shell of a family that once was. Never would she spend another night there, haunted by the memories of a life lived.
The cemetery grew cold and darker as each minute passed. There was nothing Ellie feared more than the dark. Flic had vowed to protect her, but how was she to keep her promise now?
Everything she cherished was lost to her in a few short hours. Jason, the man she’d trusted above all others, betrayed her, and robbed her of the most precious gift he’d ever given, their daughter. He was as good as dead to her. The man she thought he’d become was a figment of her imagination and one who would no longer play a part in her reality.
* * *
It wasn’t until he shook her shoulder that Flic realised Jason was beside her. She hadn’t intended to doze off. The setting of the sun saw the night approaching too quickly and Ellie’s fear of the dark was taken as her own.
“Flic honey. Come, I’ll take you home.” He gave her another shake. “Felicity.”
“Get away from me.” The thought of his hands upon her made her shudder. She’d never forgive him for what he’d done. If Ellie had been in her car seat she’d still be alive. If I’d stayed home she’d still be alive too, her conscience screamed. Oh, how she’d forever blame herself just as much if not more than she did Jason. Guilt tore through her, crippling her ability to completely pass the blame.
“Flic, please don’t shut me out.”
Rage, fury, repulsion, few of the feelings other than grief and guilt she’d experienced over the past four days, threatened to surface like molten rock. “Shut you out,” she spat. “You’re lucky that’s all I’m doing you murderous bastard. I’ll never forgive you for what you’ve done. You want me to come home with you and leave her here in the cold—in the dark—you of all people know she’s afraid of the dark.” She shook her head. “I won’t leave her.”
“Please. I don’t want to lose you too.”
He had some nerve. “You lost me the moment you decided to drive drunk with my baby in your car. You should be locked up for what you did.”
“You think I don’t wish it were me?”
Glaring up at him, she watched as his face crumpled around a fresh stream of tears.
“I wish more than anything it were me.”
“So do I.”
Jason’s tears turned to sobs.
“You don’t deserve to die, that’d be too kind.”
Jason didn’t respond. With his head hung forward, tears spilled. Flic didn’t care. She hoped he hurt. She loathed him. Bitter resentment filled every inch of her body and if it weren’t for the ever-increasing fatigue, she’d give in to her desire to stand up and inflict as much physical pain on him as she felt emotionally.
“Flic be rational, you can’t stay here.” His voice cut through her thoughts.
“Rational. You want me to be rational. I buried my little girl today. The little girl I carried for nine months and gave birth to. The little girl who brought more happiness to my life in the four short years I shared with her than anyone—and now she’s gone.” A sob caught in her throat. She inhaled. The tears continued to flow. “I will never hold her in my arms, or hear her voice, or giggle, or watch her grow up. You did this Jason, you killed her—and you expect me to be rational.”
“I know. I’m sorry.” He groaned, as if each word caused the pain to cut deeper. “Please will you forgive me?”
“Never,” she snarled. “We’re over. I will never be with you again.” She wanted to hurt him as much as he’d hurt her, but nothing would ever come close.
Through with talking, she stood and turned her back on him. Nothing he could say or do would change her mind. There was no picking up the pieces now they were shattered beyond repair.
Each step an effort, as though wading through thick sludge, Flic walked over to Ellie’s grave. The groundsmen had completed their work. Mercifully she’d slept through. Lowering herself to the moist grass she curled up alongside the mound of dirt caging her daughter’s body.
“Mummy is here, Angel,” she whispered. “I love you so much, my beautiful Ellie.”
The memory of Ellie’s voice chimed like silver bells in her mind, “I love you too, Mummy.”
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❤ Renee x