HELLO…

I just sat there and stared. Blankly. There was a constant ringing in my ears. I wasn’t sure whether it was from the drone of the fat nuns in the choir singing a dirge or from the sweet smell of the burning incense from the altar that reminded me of something I needed so badly right now – a cigarette.
I had endured the past week without being able to smoke as freely as I would if I were back in my flat. No one in the family knew I smoked. Anyway, It would have been hard to detect through the layers of expensive perfumes I wore. My signature ruby-red lips kept my charred lips well hidden. I was hardly seen without make-up.
My nicotine craving was quickly forgotten as the rustle of clothing and creaking of pews made me realise people were getting up. I stood up with the rest of the family. The clergymen files past first, followed by the bearers of the hearse. The immediate family members followed, and I took the rear, as usual.
The buzz in my ears continued as we made our way outside to the church cemetery. There, the smell of freshly dug earth mixed with the scent of the incense, was his scent.
No, it wasn’t a figment of my imagination. It was his scent. No one else smelled that way. I looked up, and around, calmly telling myself if was the grief (or maybe the nicotine craving) that was playing on my senses.
And then. I saw him.
Same white kaftan he wore the last time I had seen him…..
He and I had had a fight. He had driven off in anger. I heard from his friend two years later that there had been an accident. No survivors. I had been too angry to grieve for him. He had hurt me so bad I actually told myself he deserved to die.
And now he was here, by my father’s graveside. The dead mourning the dead.
But, his gap-toothed smile looked too real to be unearthly. I moved closer, the priest’s funeral prayers were became white noise, muffled by the rush of blood to my ears. I moved towards him like a moth drawn to a flame.
He held out his hand, ready to take mine as I approached him. In that outstretched palm I saw hope, and a chance to love again. I had gone six years failing at every attempt to find love and now, love had found me. Just when I needed it most.
I got to where he was and his smile widened and all I could think of was whether his lips would still taste the same after all these years.
“H..hey.” My voice was barely a whisper.
“Hello…from the other side.”
His raspy voice sounded faraway, like a half-wail, drowned out by shouts and screams from all around me.
“She’s falling!” I heard someone’s shout, just before my cheek connected with the red earth at the bottom of my father’s grave.

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