Standing there, in front of the polished antique coffin that held my uncle, I felt nothing. Strands of loose hair whipped and lashed around my face like lifeless snakes in the choking breeze, wiping away the few solitary tears that slid slowly down my cheeks. Those tears were meaningless.
It was a gloriously bright day; not a cloud in sight – perfect demonstration of what I felt at that moment. Family and friends stood, weeping and murmuring words of comfort to each other. I glanced momentarily at the priest: he was mouthing words I could not understand; I didn’t listen. Instead, I focused on a ladybird that scuttled busily over the rim of the coffin lid, disappearing into a crack.
It had no black spots.
There was shuffling, and I made eye contact with my innocent little sister, who was all in awe with her surroundings. She didn’t understand.
Just as she moved closer to me, grabbing at my fingers, my vision started to blur over as if some black stretch of tongue was licking at my senses, swallowing the scene in front of me, and instead I saw fragments, flashes, figures.
A strained voice. The shadows of darting feet. Blinding light as curtains were ripped off its hinges. A frightened, wrinkled face. And then, a blood-curdling scream, and the glint of a blade: clean one minute, dirtied the next. And, just as quickly as it had appeared, the vision started to fizzle away, and my ears seemed to unblock, as if I had been deep underwater for some time.
Looking up, I noticed a rotting autumn leaf perching precariously on my head. It still had some splash of colour left, but life had inevitably left its transparent veins. I left it to float to the ground, carried away by the wind. Looking down, my little sister was clutching at my hand still, but I didn’t feel her soft, small fingers – instead, I still felt the smooth curved handle of a kitchen knife.
That knife was lined with my uncle’s blood.
Yet I still felt no remorse.