A Story by Alexis Raine

The day is too perfect for a child's funeral.


"You smell like wildflowers."
      That was the last thing Farah heard her say. She leans back in her chair and places her feet up on the desk, the mud caked on her red tennis shoes chipping off and scattering, showering down over a mountain of paperwork. She can hear quiet piano music playing through the walls; she's not sure where it's coming from, but it creeps up the metal vents and winds its way up her wrists, gently caressing her neck and whispering in her ears.

The sky outside her office is bright blue, impossibly blue, and the grass below it ruffles gently in the summer wind. The wind brings the sunshine in through the window, dappling it, painting it around the room and bringing light to the darkest corners. Farah licks her lips and sighs, folding her arms and closing her eyes.
To her, this is just another day. There's nothing special about it, and the world goes on. Outside, printers churn out forms in a methodical tedium that challenges the consistency of time. People walk by, the cool swish of their linen coats reminding Farah that everything is the same, consistent. Somewhere off in the distance, a Code Blue sounds, followed by the predictable squealing of cart wheels and nurse shoes.

As much as she knows she should mourn, or at least cry, she can't. There is no point. What had happened had happened, and there is no turning back.
      "Dr. Nemo," a young man pokes his head into Farah's office. His eyes are red-rimmed and glassy; Farah can see the salt from his tears on his cheeks. Against the bright, peaceful background, he looks almost out of place in his black suit and trousers. Farah reaches up and rubs her forehead gently.
      "Are you coming to the funeral?" Birds have begun to chirp outside; the day is wrong, oh, so wrong for such an occasion. Farah stares at him a moment before closing her dry eyes again.

"No. Waste of time," her voice is flat. She can see the worry and the fear reflected in the man's face: he is worried she is reverting back to the way she was when she first took him under her wing; him, and Adelaide. She watches him closely as he seems to fold over himself. It is fascinating to her, the way this cocky intern collapses in the face of death; she has a hard time understanding the attachment to life.
      "Farah," he calls her by her first name now, and she notices. He makes his way into her office and sits on the couch, eyes focused on his loafers. "Farah, please come."     

"It's just a ritual, Rupert." Farah removes her shoes from the desk and brushes the dried mud onto the floor in one sweep. Her eyes land on the photograph on her desk: she is standing in the middle, grinning, with Rupert under one arm and a small, golden eyed brunette tucked to her side. It was the day they both received their White Coats, and they were both happy. Farah understands this; she grinned along with them then, and she feels a smile twitching at the corner of her mouth now. She raises a hand and strokes the head of a small, plush duck that sits beside the photo; she can see Rupert watching her carefully, curiously, out of the corner of his eye. Adelaide had given her this duck. Adelaide cared for her, and so did Rupert. They had… a bond. They had loved her, and Farah supposes she felt quite protective of them in return. She lowers her eyes to the surface of the desk and scans the report she is filling out.
      "Is that Ada's form?" Rupert asks. He's leaned over now, elbows resting on knees, tired hands rubbing tired eyes.

"Yes," Farah glances at it again. Adelaide Wilson: onsite death. Farah looks up and locks eyes with Rupert, the scene playing behind both their eyes: a drunk driver, crashing through the side wall of the ER, and the creak of the support beam as it gives its dying scream. They see the cracking of the building as the second floor collapses onto the first, and the driver gunning the gas, further burying Adelaide in rubble. She was mostly dead when they got her out. Her eyes were closed, her head at a strange angle. Farah got to her first and held her as she slipped away. Her blood still stained the fringes of Farah's white coat; for some irrational reason, she couldn't bring herself to wash it. She rubs her thumb over the stain for a moment and sighs.

"Please Farah?" Rupert slowly slinks over to her and holds out his arms; Farah tries to ignore the small shiver that runs down his spine as she stands and allows him to hug her. She feels a strange feeling forming in her stomach, and the overwhelming urge to bury herself in her work and forget. It is an event that should be forgotten. People die, every day.
      Rupert pulls back and grasps her by the shoulders. "Farah?"

There are hot tears running down her cheeks and the world is spinning. She sits again and roughly wipes her eyes.
      "Sorry," she mumbles, turning back to her work. Rupert knows her well enough and takes this as his dismissal, leaving without further protest as Farah begins writing furiously. She reaches out her left hand and gingerly strokes the plush duck. 

 One blink, and everything is gone.
      Farah slams down her pen and cradles her head in her arms. She’d gotten annoyed at Adalaide’s cheery demeanor and sent her to the supply cabinet to get more gloves for the exam rooms. Ada was there when the floor collapsed underneath her… and as she slipped away, the last thing she ever muttered was about Farah’s perfume. Goddamn perfume. There was nothing about life, or family or love, only inanity. Maybe that’s what death is; just an unremarkable ending to an unremarkable existence.

“You smell like wildflowers.”

It wasn't her fault. Farah takes the duck and turns it over in her hands, kissing its head gingerly. Her eyes are dry now, and she glances out the window into the blue brightness that is the day. It looks like Eden, with the flowers poking their heads through dewy sprigs of grass. Adelaide would have been happy to feel it, to see it. Farah knows that it should make any person happy.

She pushes the incident out of her mind and tips the photo-frame on its face. The stuffed duck sits placidly on her lap as she writes, the rhythm sounding out one thing in her mind, one pounding question she wants to rid herself of.
      "Why, why, why, why…"

© 2010 Alexis Raine

Author's Note

Alexis Raine
A character piece, defining Farah as a person.
I've already received several critiques on this piece, but I'd love it if you told me what you thought.

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Outside, printers churn out forms in a methodical tedium that challenges the consistency of time.


Posted 14 Years Ago

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Added on May 23, 2010
Last Updated on June 9, 2010
Tags: farah, wildflowers, hospital, loss, grief, death, sociopath, characterization


Alexis Raine
Alexis Raine

You can call me Roo, or any variation upon my name. I live in a land of trees, where it is possible to drown by just looking at the sky. I enjoy writing, mostly prose, and some screenplays. I al.. more..