Condolences
Condolences short story stories
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zarah
zarah Community member
Autoplay OFF   •   10 months ago
'There was a young girl sat alone, trembling in the corner of the room. '

This ones a long one! I wanted to try something a little different :D Please read it through and tell me what you think!

Condolences

There was a young girl sat alone, trembling in the corner of the room.

She perching uncomfortably on the edge of a faded cushion. Her eyes puffy and red as tears slid down her face leaving a slight trail behind them.

In her hands, she clutched a string of wooden prayer beads. Clicking her way through each bead, she recited a prayer under her breath as her hands shook with grief.

She looked to be in her early 20's and yet here she was in her own world of sadness, surrounded by women who were much older than her.

Pale and gaunt, she stood out amongst the sea of chattering older women though she did everything she could to seem inconspicuous.

They didn't know her and she didn't know them, but I knew her.

She sat hunched over with her knees pulled in close to her chest. Wearing a simple white shalwar kameez and a light grey dupatta, she tried hard to make herself insignificant.

It had almost worked. Almost.

An ashy brown strand of hair had slipped from underneath her dupatta and now rested lightly on the outer edge of her eye.

Her eyes were downcast, staring hard at the floor but occasionally she would look up.

At the room, at the other women but never at me. She avoided my eyes at all cost. But I had seen her eyes, they were hazel with flecks of olive green scattered in them and I knew them well.

After a while an older woman crossed the room and sat down next to her friend, blocking my view. At that moment I noticed where I was again.

I was sat in the large funeral hall of the local mosque, surrounded by women of all ages.

Women who had come together to mourn the loss of my husband. Some were reciting prayers whilst others read the Quran.

Others had given up all pretense and were simply gossiping with each other in hushed tones.

Occasionally women would enter the hall and immediately make their way over to me as they erupted in a swirl of anguished crying.

Crushing me to their chest, they would wail about how difficult it all was for me, how my children were all alone and what a good man my husband was.

Their distress disappearing the moment they sat down next to their friends, joining them in their conversations.

As for me, I felt nothing.

Just a void where I thought I would feel pain. I suppose people would call it shock. I called it mercy.

I dove headfirst into that numbness and used it to support my daughters and to organize the funeral.

Now I used it to keep my composure as I listened to the women around me. That was until I'd noticed the young girl in the corner of the room.

She still hadn't reappeared from behind the older woman. So instead, my eyes searched for my two daughters. They walked around the hall, speaking to the mourners, thanking them for coming.

They listened patiently as women spoke about their father and I could see that they had also disappeared into the numbness.

Like me, they had found a way to make it work for them.

My youngest daughter, now only 26, cut through the middle of the hall to hand out more prayer beads to the women on the other side.

She kept her composure so well now but I remember when she was younger.

Only 5 years old she had cried almost constantly when her father would leave home for months at a time for work. During a difficult year in our marriage, those trips became his escape.

As a result, our marriage began to break down. It fell apart day by day, week by week.

There was no mercy that year.

I did everything I could to keep it together. For my daughters, for our relationship, for the naive young girl, I was who still believed in a happy ending.

I tried everything I could to keep our family together. I scraped and clawed at the broken pieces of our marriage dragging them back together.

It was painful and it was slow but eventually, it began to work. It took time but our marriage healed. With it, a life and future for our children.

Now here I was at the end of my marriage staring at what remained. My daughters, a hall full of people and the young girl who sat hiding in the corner of the hall.

The older woman finally moved and my daughter knelt down in her place. My eyes darted between her and the young girl. The same brown hair, the same hazel eyes.

The resemblance was so uncanny that I couldn't believe no one else had noticed. Eventually, the young girl looked up and we both locked eyes with each other.

After a moment, her face crumpled as she saw the understanding in my gaze.

It's been over 20 years since my marriage had almost fallen apart. At that moment, I wished I hadn't tried so hard to keep it together.

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