House of Mourning
“It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men, and the living should take this to heart.” Ecclesiastes 7:2
“Go to sleep you little baby…”
More singing. Still a child’s voice, but not Ruby’s. Another girl’s voice that was a shade deeper.
Mourning slowly moved further down the hallway in the direction of the singing.
“When you wake, you’ll have cake,” the new voice sang.
Ruby had a friend with her?
When Mourning had almost reached the end of the hall, she stopped to listen.
“And all the pretty little horses…”
Mourning heard the song before, probably from a movie.
She didn’t want to get lost, but the “shhh” that broke the silence as she moved forward was louder. She was getting closer.
You know your stepfather isn’t doing well, Jon.
As Jon read the text message, he heard the words in his mother’s judgy voice. He could picture her eyes, the same shade of blue as his, but smaller and mean. Small and mean, pretty much described his mother as a person.
It wasn’t a text he wanted to answer.
His sister Faith wasn’t going home for Thanksgiving. She hadn’t spoken to their mother in years, and she hated their stepfather. She got her stubbornness from their father.
It would have been so easy for Jon to assign her some of the blame for their family’s deterioration. But it wasn’t exactly the truth.
Charles Lynskey was a prominent and accomplished defense attorney in the small Massachusetts town where Jon and Faith were born. He was a formidable man in his prime, handsome and successful. When Jon and Faith were young, their father’s demanding career required him to work long hours. Sometimes when he was home, he had to work too, not able to spend a lot of time with his family.
Once he stepped past her, Ollie stopped. He felt so cold. A crippling cold. And it was a hot fucking August day.
When he spun around in the hallway, whoever the fuck she was? Gone.
Good fucking riddance.
He went straight back to the same prop room, deciding to tear it the fuck up until he found that picture. He finally found it tucked into a corner of the room’s closet, like someone – Mourning probably – put it there to protect it.
Ollie’s heart raced and his hands shook as he lifted the framed picture. Holding it up in the light from the cracked windows behind him, the sun lit up the dusty surface of the glass. In his heart, he knew it was her. His dancer.
Ollie didn’t know a damn thing about ballet, but the way she held herself was beautiful. She balanced on the leg she’d lost in the accident according to Robbie. Her limbs were long and slim. The graceful lines resembled the limbs of the spirit he saw in the isolation hallway, only they were covered in the shadows of rags.
It was her.