by H.E. Taylor
|Chapter 66||Table of Contents||Chapter 68|
The Body, January 18, 2059
I put off planning the funeral because I had no idea when Matt’s body was going to arrive. Relations between the North and South American continents are not exactly smooth. You could say that, except for diplomatic and scientific contacts, they are defined by the wall across the ithmus below Mexico. I had to work through ConSec, and that meant Carman.
This was a difficult period for me. It was xmas and I was far from seasonally happy. My thoughts seemed always to come back to Matt. I didn’t cry that much after that first long walk home, but I was often seized with emotion — choked-up and wet-eyed. We had our xmas, but it was all for Anna. Occasionally I felt like I was going through the motions of living. It is a difficult thing to feel estranged from your own life.
Edie saw what I was going through, but didn’t say anything. Anna had none of that reserve. With the utter naturalness of a child, she would express concern and try to get me to play. We did a lot of lakeshore walking, sometimes accompanied by Edie.
Between Matt’s death and the seasonal holidays, I had been off campus for over a month. The day before I was supposed to go back to work, a ConSec van pulled up in the lane. The driver got out with a cardboard box about 30 x 30 x 60 cm. My heart sank.
Edie was in the basement programming. I let her be. I signed for the package and with Anna beside me opened it. Inside was an urn. Matt had been cremated. Beside the urn were some personal effects — a belt I recognized, some papers and some clothes that looked like they had never been worn.
Now I had to contact Jon and the funeral home to work out a good time for the funeral. I called Jon and there was no answer. I was so annoyed I didn’t leave a message.
I had just put the phone down when it rang. It was Jon. “You were calling me,” he said.
“Yeah.” I paused a second wondering how direct to be. “Matt’s been cremated. The urn is here.”
“You’re sure it’s him?”
“I don’t think there would be any DNA in the ashes, but his belt came with it and some documents. So yeah, I think it’s him.”
“I’ll see your damn and raise you one.”
“When are you scheduling the funeral?”
“I haven’t spoken to the undertakers yet, but I was thinking next week. We can delay. We’ve put it off so far already. Would you prefer midweek or weekend?”
“Okay. I’ll let you know.”
I was sitting in the middle of the living room floor. When we stopped talking, Anna came over and sat on my lap. I wrapped my arms around her and rocked from side to side thinking, ‘this is all that’s left of Matt’.
Excerpted from _The Bottleneck Years_ by H.E. Taylor
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Last modified November 19, 2013