She stands, speechless. It is not happening. It cannot be happening. She is not standing in front of his dead body.
But she is.
Her throat closes up. This is surreal. A single, shocked tear rolls down her cheek. After many moments of silence, she is the first of a crowd to move. She kneels down and clasps his hand. Cold as ice. But she holds it close anyways, even on that freezing November day. Holding him close, she unconsciously begins to sing a tune. Her words are so quiet, they would almost illegible, even without the blaring of sirens, the crowd of murmuring bystanders, and the usual Chicago hustle-bustle.
"You can be my angel...
You will be my wings...
You can lift me way up high,
Or stay on the ground, and listen to me sing...
You can be my angel...
You... will be... my..... Wings..."
The next Tuesday they had his funeral. How many times she had talked herself into and out of going she couldn't count. But she knew she'd be called to speak. And everyone else was grieving too... though for sure not nearly as much as she was... it went on and on like this. But in the end, she decided to attend. At last, her time came.
"Uhm, hi, I'm Ember... well, there are many things I could say, that we could all say right now, but I think we all know they're better unspoken. They still leave a mark. So.. I just want to say the obvious. Jason never left. He's still here. And he's sitting right there, next to you. Next to all of you. He will always be with us. So, um.. thanks..."
Mortified, Ember practically ran back to her seat. What she said, well, it had been true. She actually felt like she could look over her shoulder and see him. It was so strange... his presence so strong... but when she looked, all that sat there was an empty seat.
Finally the funeral came to an end. But Ember wished it would never, ever end. For when she left, she'd never see him - or his casket - again. It took many more arguments with herself, but with one last look, she left the church.
She was in the middle of her drive home when she realized that she didn't even know how he'd died. And for some strange reason, she felt like it was her duty to find out. Soon, her mind was set on this and this only. She was coming up with numerous plans and ideas, with memories of their good times together popping up occasionally. Aside from her driving, she was totally oblivious to everything around her.
Including when the translucent hand reached up and changed the radio station to their song.
Through the course of the next week, Ember made some progress with her plan to avenge him. She looked up common causes of death. She tracked down anyone who was there when he "dropped dead," as every witness she could find had said. She even called a few buildings near the site of his death. None answered, so she left loads of messages, really not caring how much it annoyed them. Just in case one did call, whenever she answered the phone, she was much more formal than needed. Like when his mother called.
"September White speaking," she answered quickly.
"Ember? It's me, Mrs. Chamberlain." His mother answered on the other end of the line.
"Oh, hi, Mrs. Chamberlain... uhm... how are things going?" Ember asked, covering her unspoken question with a bright, bubbly one. Mrs. Chamberlain sighed before replying.
"I'd believe you could relate," she said
There was a moment of silence.
"They're only going to let a few close family members and friends see him be buried. I wanted to invite you to come. Chestnut Creek Cemetery, at three," continued Mrs. Chamberlain.
Shocked, Ember hesitated to answer. "Uh, sure... but if I may ask, why Chestnut Creek? That's almost two hours away."
Mrs. Chamberlain didn't answer her question. "Thanks, Ember. See you at three." The line went dead. Hanging up the phone, Ember became wildly suspicious of Chestnut Creek Cemetery. Then another voice piped up in her head.
What do you think you're doing?! She asked herself. She couldn't argue with her conscious. It was right. Here she was with the honor of being invited to his burial, and all she could do was act like she was the star of a mystery. She forced herself to get all thoughts of figuring out her problems out of her head. At one, she hopped in the car and began the drive to Chestnut Creek.