Julia squeezed his hand awaiting a squeeze back. The squeeze never came. Julia had first got together a month ago. Phil was just out of a longterm relationship and had been talking about wanting to take things slow. Julia found that the proceedings were glacial. Julia didn’t mind; she was just glad to be with him. They both lived in a small town, they knew of each other but not directly, and they were still in the beginning stages of getting to know one another.
Julia and Phil had been on a couple of dates, and she remembered him laughing when she told him that she considered him a gentleman because he held the door open to some greasy spoon.
Phil was cold and distant, and whenever Julia tried to confront him about that he told her that it was just the way that he was and that he couldn’t do anything. Phil was too old to change his ways.
Julia and Phil stood outside the front of the church awaiting the next phase. Julia found the whole thing strange, she wasn’t Catholic, and she hadn’t been to a standard mass let alone a funeral. Julia believed that the priest had been deliberately tugging at the heartstrings of the congregation which made her withdraw emotionally. Julia had never met this woman, and she would shed a tear because she felt obligated.
Phil was close to his grandmother, and even though he did not show it, Julia could tell that he was in deep pain. The coffin went into the back of the hearse. The gathered crowd shared cliches with one another. Phil broke away from Julia and moved through the people who were chattering away to one another on the cold January morning. Julia didn’t follow, but she watched Phil as he walked through the assembled people.
Phil was talking to a woman, short hair with sharp features. Julia knew the woman. Julia turned away and looked for someone who she could speak to only they were all strangers, and she could not bring herself to make idle chit-chat. Julia knew it was a distraction for herself.
Julia looked over to the hearse and focused her attention. The vehicle contained the coffin that held the body that once carried the soul of Phil’s grandmother. Julia looked at it and thought about herself and how there would come a time for her when she would be parcelled up and shoved inside a box in the back of the van only to have her body dumped somewhere.
Julia thought about this, but she could feel her body forcing her to face towards Phil and the conversation that he was having. Julia heard the sound of Phil’s laughter; she didn’t know that Phil was capable of such actions let alone that they were allowed at a funeral. Julia looked at Phil. It looked like him, but it was not him. Phil was animated, his face alive and his eyes wide. Julia’s gaze was transfixed but noticed that her body was moving her away so that she could not witness any more of the interaction.
One of the funeral directors gave a signal, and the funeral procession started to commence it’s walk to the graveyard. Phil rejoined Julia and took her hand. Julia squeezed Phil’s hand awaiting a squeeze back.