Muted whispers filled the air like the chirping of birds. Cries rented the air at intervals: sharp, sad, true. Present too was the babble of speeding tongues rushing words out so fast a lot of it sounded like prayers at vigil grounds: gibberish, desperate, exhausted, and pregnant with unvoiced meanings.
The observer watched silently, seeing the clothed satellite dishes seated atop female heads, and noting the ones that weren’t quite so ‘satellite’. The jewelry on the crowd caught the rays of the sun, what little there was of it, and reflected it so bright they were probably why the sky’s gloom wasn’t so noticeable. A knock rapped on the door, then came a voice hushed by shed tears and strangled emotion: “It’s time”.
Up close, the crowd was a mass shroud in white, lending perfumed air and bejewelled lights to the graveside. The cries increased as the finality of death was forced on the gathering when the pall bearers lowered the Ebony casket 6 feet into damp dark nothingness.
The observer smiled as a gust of cold air hit her face, a twist of her lips that let her dimples twinkle in her cheeks. The gasp from beside her almost swallowed by the shuffling crowd was all the acknowledgment she needed. Her brother had just noticed her beaded nipple, caused and outlined by the wind. Head bowed, she muttered syllables and found her way through the crowd.
Back at the house, she unearthed the old mirror from the garage, mounted it on her dresser, and took her clothes off inch by slow inch, seeing her body for the first time since that summer many years ago when the assassins had violated her mother. With each look and every thrust into her mother’s thrashing body, they had buried her 6 feet into the screaming closet of hate.
She remembered now. The banging at their door that night nine years go while they ate spaghetti and shrimps. The trickle of urine down the maid’s legs as she half-walked, half-stumbled into the dinning, mumbling incoherent pleas in english and her native language, and looking back at the man who held a gun to her head, her frenzied gesticulations of plea desperate. Her mother had looked up sharply and quietly, her hands above the table commanding her silence and that of her brother.
Her eyes had locked with empty black orbs, she had opened her mouth in awe at the deadness of the eyes, but her brother, always instinctively knowing her thoughts, had covered her mouth before the gasp crossed her lips. The eyes had looked away from her to her mother at the same time he had pushed Mary out of his way. She had been obsessed with the eyes however, so she kept looking. She had seen the eyes come alive the way everyone’s did when they looked at her mother. Her mother had seen it too, because he had stilled, and his mouth had become curved in an O, though he had uttered no sound. Her mother had stayed frozen like the statue at the round about, and she had had the feeling that something really bad was happening. Mummy was just never still. Dad always said she would tap her fingers or wiggle her toes even in the grave. Then:
The bellow had come from somewhere in the kitchen and had jolted the man out of his reverie.
His voice was hushedand gruff like he didn’t want to despoil sacredness.
“A beau.. what? What the fuck has that got to…? Bastard!”
The man should not have been staring so intently at her mother, but he had. He hadn’t seen the red-eyed man pop out from behind and hold the gun. She had seen, and she had been unable to talk because her brother’s hand had increased his clamp-like grip over her mouth. He must have felt something though, because the next second his hand was on the red patch on his stomach, his eyes wide in shock as he fell to the floor. He never uttered a sound, just that open-mouthed wordless O of before. Her mother must have been shocked. She had jumped out of the chair with a scream, backing away from the red-eyed man, her hands blocking their view just before her hands pushed their heads downwards, commanding them under the table. Everything had gone fast from there and yet very slow.
“What do you people want? What do you want?”
Her mother’s voice, scared, shaking. She had seen the man’s legs halt short of the table’s edge. Then silence.
“You really are…”
She had wondered what he wanted to say. He seemed really unable to complete his sentences. Then suddenly, she saw his legs leap. A thump on the floor at the head of the table. She turned her neck, watched her mother’s bare feet run. Then his feet followed fast in pursuance.
“Please take anything you want. We have money. Please”
Her mother’s cautious movement. It seemed the man wanted the money and mummy wanted to go get it for him.
Gbam! A thump on the floor, and she saw a lot of hair some distance from her, her mother’s. She watched her mother struggle, saw the man get hold of her hands and hold them behind her back. Her mother’s twisting body and flailing legs must have annoyed the man; he hit her sharply across her buttocks. Her brother tried to move, she held him back. Her mother must have known; she looked up at them and their eyes locked, and she shook her head vigorously, her eyes sad, desperate, yet fierce.
The sound of a zipper, clothes being torn, her mother’s huffs of effort and pleas, the man’s heavy breathing.
“Don’t do this. Please. Stop. Please stop”
Tears down her mother’s face. Her mother’s scream. The man’s grunt.
The sound of a body slapping against the other. She and her brother curled into themselves, holding tight, crying silently. They did not know what it was, but it was hurting mummy and she had commanded their inaction. They were helpless.
Feet falls. She heard it first. She looked up sharply. Daddy! The word did not leave her lips, but her tears ceased. He ran into the sitting room wearing only his socks. She looked towards mummy and the man.
She had looked up. Her father had held a smoking gun. She had looked back down. Her mother’s eyes were dead, oblivious to the dead man atop her….
Another tear rolled down her face. Her hands were clenched in the delicate silk of her dress. One last bit of memory….
The dead-eyed man who had been shot by the red-eyed one jerked. Spoke. Shattered the silence after death:
“To to to kill you. Aaa a aass assa ssinate. Sh sh sh she b b b beau beau beautiful. Forgot yo yo you.”
She blinked away the vestiges of memory, exhaling slowly, and looked back at her image in the mirror. Her mother’s fear and eventual hatred of her body had been in every breath she had expelled. It had lived every second of every day with them. Her mother was dead now. She lay unhurting, unspeaking and unhating in the eternal silence of the coffin.
She felt the guilt of relief. She could live now. Her mother’s death was her salvation. She could live.