Almost two weeks after Uncle Harry came over with the bad news, we went to visit the funeral home. The woman there, the one with the long braid down her back and the flowery dress (I mean, far out, she works in a funeral home!), asked for a picture of Rose. It was the final straw for mum. She had dropped her head into her hands and sobbed so hysterically that my dad was forced to pull her into a tight hug and rock her back and forth. He had clenched his jaw, trying not to cry himself.
They act like it is the first time they have cried. They think I don’t hear them at night, but I do. Or that my mum walks around, head low, hiding her puffy eyes from me.
My dad nods his head; silently saying he will find one.
I tried to block it all out by focusing on the hole in my blue/white volleys. The material was far too stretched and had worn thin in many places. Why would this woman, this woman we had just met, want a picture of my sister?
It was a strange request, considering how much Rose had been in the Daily Prophet lately, asking for anything that could help in the investigation. Then there was the fact that everywhere you went, there was a picture of Rose smiling at you from windows of the shops.
And since the death of my sister, I have seen more of her than I did in the last few years. You could never pin Rose down anywhere; she was so full of life.
Then, as the days ticked by not only did she appear in the Daily Prophet but also the Evening Prophet. More pictures went up in shops; there was at least two in every window. Considering how famous our parents are, everyone wanted to help out in finding Rose.
Sometimes I find it ironic that Rose always wanted to be in the spotlight. England was too small; she needed life and more air to breath.
While we tried to smudge the doubt with hope, I always played a game in my head, pretending that when Rose returned, she would laugh and say it was great exposure for herself. I tried to tell myself that when she came home, her face would be delighted and everything would be forgiven for the hard times.
I kept this all too myself, just bottled up inside.
So, it was this reason that I couldn’t understand the request.
Already that day, my parents had spent at least half of their savings on a luxurious casket, the dozens upon dozens of red roses and even the white doves Rose loved so much. They told me it was for her memory; although I was sure that her memory would something much wilder, possibly a rock band playing songs throughout the ceremony.
I wonder if my mum knows this too. And that is why she is crying.
Then again, there have been too many reasons to cry today.
I knew the woman wouldn’t get a photo. No matter how much my father nodded, as soon as we left, he would return to his silent and grief-stricken mode and become too distracted to remember to give her a photo.
After the arrangements were met and my parents slowly walked out the door after shaking hands with the many people offering their condolences, I turned to the woman. I reached into my back pocket and fished out the photo of Rose I have taken to walking around with. Just to remind me of my sister, the one I loved so much.
My voice cracked as I gave it to the woman. I hadn’t spoken in days and finally, the strain of one word felt like a million. “Here.”
The woman took it in her soft hands. She inhaled a sharp breath of air, holding it for seconds, before releasing. Her hands shook as she looked at it. It was as if it was the first true photo of Rose she had seen. She smiled at me sadly. “Thank you Hugo.”
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