It was a dull and grey day with rain pelting the large windows in the spacious country house. Apart from the smattering of the rain, the villa seemed eerily quiet and subdued with not a single light lit. Sara felt cold and slightly uncomfortable where she was standing in the hall with her back to the living room. Without having looked she knew that her parents would be on opposite sides of the house; they had been for several days now. Rather than seeking each other’s comfort, they had secluded themselves in their own misery.
Looking to the tall, blond man at her side, Sara made a nod toward one side of the house.
“My mother will be there,” she whispered. It felt odd to speak when the house was so quiet as if she was disturbing a sacred realm of silence.
The man who had not left her side the past few days nodded.
“You know what you must do,” he said. “I will leave you now.”
Overwhelmed by a sudden fear of being left alone, Sara turned her head sharply and screamed. “No! Don’t leave me! Did you hear me? I said no!”
She tried to grab hold of him but he had already catapulted out of reality, leaving her alone in the chilly hall. For the past few days, he had not left her side, and it felt as if a part of her had disappeared with him. Rubbing the icy skin on her arms, she hesitantly started walking toward the bedroom where she knew that her mother would be.
In the bedroom, her mother was sitting on the bed propped up against the headboard. Her face was devoid of make-up and her hair hadn’t been washed for several days. A half-empty box of tissues was lying next to her and a photo frame was on the floor with its face down, having fallen as her mother nodded off. Even unwashed and with the obvious streaks of tears on her face one could see that the woman on the bed was attractive. She looked restful in her slumber, but there was no mistaking the sadness in her features.
Sara knelt to pick up the photo frame on the floor. Looking at it, she found that it was a picture of the family taken last summer when they had visited the Grand Canyon. Her parents looked happy and very much in love, both holding an arm around Sara who was standing in the middle. Placing the frame gently in her mother’s lap, Sara leaned forward and kissed her mother softly on the cheek.
“Everything will be all right,” she promised in a whisper.
Her mother shifted restlessly in her sleep, but as her hand found the photo frame she settled down again. Sara quietly left the room.
Making her way across the house, she avoided the living room and went to her father’s study. As she had expected her father was sitting behind his desk with his elbows propped on the surface and his face buried in his hands. A glass and an almost empty bottle of brandy were the only things on the desk. Someone had shoved everything else off in a fit of temper and it was lying scattered on the floor.
Her father had always been a handsome man, but it almost seemed as if his salt and pepper hair had turned more salt than pepper in the past few days. Sara moved silently to her father’s side and touched his shoulder gently, but he didn’t react. Leaning closer, Sara whispered in his ear.
“Don’t worry. Everything is fine,” she breathed softly. “Take care of mom, she needs you. And you need her. Don’t forget that.”
As her father stirred slightly Sara moved away, but he didn’t make any sign of having heard her. Then he stood up and ran a hand through his ruffled hair, looking sadly out the door toward the other side of the house. Sara took a few steps further away as he moved around the desk and started walking. Following him silently across the house, Sara watched as he stopped for a second to glance into the living room before he continued to the bedroom at the end of the hall. She stood quietly by the entrance to the living room and watched as her father tenderly roused her mother from her sleep.
The two adults looked at each other for a moment in silence and then embraced, holding on as if they would never again let go. Sara felt a little warmer. The house was finally coming back to life. Turning to the living room, she continued to the room’s current dominant feature.
Two large flower wreaths flanked the large open mahogany casket. Sara looked at her own pale form lying inside the casket and felt a slight stab of pain at having to leave this world. Yet she was grateful that her many months of pain were finally over, and her parents had now found their way back to each other.
“Are you ready?” The tall man who had stood guard by her bed as her life slipped away had returned to stand by her side before the casket.
Sara nodded and took the man’s offered hand. As he closed his fingers around hers she felt an odd tingling in her body as the world around her dissolved for another kind of reality.