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Prompt 003: Funeral

His earliest memory was of a woman’s funeral, standing by as her pyre was lit. The flames leapt up to free her. He could remember the heat rushing up before his face, the blaze of golden light off her gilded helmet. The incense-scented smoke rose with it, heavy in his lungs. He opened his mouth to try and breathe and found it bitter on his tongue. His brother’s hand pressed into his back, warning him. Keeping the ten-year-old Felix in place, back straight, until they’d made their final bow of respect and could turn away. He’d wiped his stinging eyes as soon as Stratos’s back was turned, then wiped his tongue for good measure.

He’d been cheerful even as a child but the solemn atmosphere must have overwhelmed him. He remembered feeling terribly sad, hanging quietly back by his brother’s side. Men and women talked over his head about her deeds, her skill and ferocity.

For years he thought of his mother when he remembered it, but Stratos said that was another woman, a famous war veteran from their hometown. Their uncle had just dragged them along to pay their respects.

“He wanted us to learn something about life,” Stratos said, oblivious to his disappointment.

“I can’t remember mother’s funeral, then.” He’d been too young. The memories were entwined now, a blur of tears and incense and confusion.

“I’m surprised. That was later.” Stratos was pouring wine. It seemed to help him with the shock of reminiscing. “You hid under the dining tables and ate saffron cakes until we found you.”

“Oh.” He hid the twinge with a bemused smile. “Then I guess our uncle succeeded.”


Fair weather

June 2012

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