Lucas sat on the bench, watching as his feet swung over the ground below. His little legs were still too short to even come near to touching the ground.
The little boy shifted uncomfortably in his jacket.
It was much too bright outside and the sun felt like it was breathing down his neck, his sweat making the fabric under his arms bunch and annoy him. He wanted to eat. He wanted to take a nap.
He wanted to leave this place where things were much too quiet and people looked at him with an expression in their eyes he couldn't understand. It was sadness, but it was also something more.
Something like fear or anger, maybe both. He hated it.
His uncle was speaking to the man who was dressed in what looked like a robe to Lucas. The man with the funny hat on his head looked like he was slowly melting to the earth, like ice cream.
His father had called the man a "rabbi", but Lucas thought it sounded much too similar to "rabbit" to not picture the man with large, floppy white ears.
It had been a silly thought before, but now it seemed stupid.
This man was not a man with floppy ears who would bring gifts and had a bright smile, but a man who stood over two large holes in the ground,
the two holes where Lucas knew his parents were going to be buried, where they would stay forever.
Lucas remembered being at a slumber party with his friend Michael when Michael's mother had opened the door. Lucas' uncle, a man he had seen twice in his young life, stood behind her.
Lucas saw that sad, angry, maybe pitying expression for the first time that night.
He couldn't understand why they wouldn't let him see his mother. He understood that people died, that they simply ceased to exist on the earth, but not his parents.
They were supposed to die with gray hair and wrinkles, like his grandfather had. For them to die so young was confusing and angering to Lucas.
Now, his uncle was speaking to the rabbi. Lucas had been told to wait on the bench until his uncle came over to take him home.
"Home", which was no longer home because it was not Lucas' house, but his uncle's house. Lucas hadn't even been able to gather any of his belongings from his room.
His stuffed rabbit and bag full of crayons, his favorite shirt with the dinosaurs on it, all left behind. He didn't know why they wouldn't let him go into his house.
Lucas heard a crunching noise behind him. When he turned, he saw the peculiar outline of a person darting behind a tree. He heard a soft laugh.
Lucas turned back and saw that his uncle was still in deep conversation with the rabbi. When his uncle laughed, Lucas wanted to vomit.
He wanted to scream at his uncle for laughing when all Lucas felt was darkness. How dare his uncle laugh over the caskets of Lucas' mother and father?
Lucas pushed himself off of the bench and walked toward where he'd seen the person. He rounded the tree and saw a woman in a black dress sitting on a headstone.
He'd seen people dressed in black earlier, but this woman's dress was different, like she'd been plucked out of one of those romantic movies that took place long ago that his mother watched,
the movies he was not allowed to watch. The silver buttons on her bodice winked in the sun as Lucas stepped closer. When the woman heard Lucas arrive, she looked up from the thing in her lap.
Lucas stepped back when the thing moved and he saw feathers. A crow sat in the woman's lap and turned its head, focusing its black eyes on Lucas.
"Hello," the woman said. Her black colored lips turned up in a smile.
"I'm not supposed to talk to strangers," Lucas said, shaking his head.
"Oh, but we're not strangers, Lucas."
Lucas' eyes left the bird and moved to look at the woman. "You know my name?"
"Yes. It's a lovely name," the woman said. She stood and came toward Lucas. She took the crow onto her hand and placed it upon her shoulder.
The woman stood in front of Lucas and knelt before him. "A lovely name, for a lovely young man."