It was like I was trapped inside my own heart. I could feel the blood rushing to my head, throbbing and beating. The walls of the church felt like they were shrinking and expanding. I could hear Molly crying. I could feel my mouth moving, see the words in the hymnbook, but somehow I felt far away. Fast falls the eventide. I knew the words, I didn’t need to be looking down at the heavy-scented blue book, but I didn’t want to look up. The room was full of people, too many. Too many had come, I don’t know that dad thought so many people would turn up. I could hear my grandmother’s voice, tuneless and harsh. She was crying, too. Lots of people were crying; most of the women, I think. I wasn’t.

I tried, but somehow I felt numb. The room was still throbbing and I was hot, really hot. I tugged at the sleeve of the dress. Black, of course. Everyone in the room was black. Aunty Karen was reading something out now, probably the eulogy. I could hear words, words about my mother. Intelligent, kind, loving, they weren’t real words. They were the things you said about a dead woman, about the woman whose casket lay in the church.

We were meant to be outside, but it was raining too much. Summer rain. It was appropriate, I suppose. The day she died had been sunny, sunny and hot. I’d woken up early and lain in the garden wearing nothing but my underwear, gazing up at the duck-egg blue sky. Then Molly had come out, shaken me like I was asleep, and told me that we had to go, go to the hospital, that mum was really ill again.

And now we were here in a grey little church, with my aunty saying something in Cantonese that I could hardly understand. Only two words, little sister, broke through to my comprehension. It was strange how many people my mother was. She was little sister, mum, daughter, wife, and most of all for the past few years, patient.

A prayer, words from the vicar, Molly still crying. Then we stood up. I didn’t really register why; the room was still contracting and expanding, my vision was still blurry, I still felt sick. I swayed back and forth for a moment, before following my father. And then I realised where we were going.

They had tried to make her look healthy again, like she hadn’t been for god knows how long. Her face was caked in makeup, but somehow the whiteness of death shone through anyway. People always talked about how peaceful the dead were, but mum wasn’t peaceful. She looked exhausted and broken, like I felt.

For a moment I was tempted to climb into the coffin with her, to lie down and let the pallbearers take me and bury me with her in the sodden earth. I was tired. Not as tired as mum had been, I expect. I could picture her lying in a hospital bed more strongly than anything else. There was a table by the side of the coffin, with a photo of her on her wedding day. There she was with dad, her long dark hair streaming down her shoulders. She was smiling, she looked really happy. There was one of her with me and Molly, too. I don’t remember it being taken, but I must’ve been four or five. We were all sitting on a picnic rug, and mum was laughing as me and Molly pointed forks at each other like they were wands.

I couldn’t remember her like that, though. Ever since I was eleven, she was a broken thing. Something delicate. Someone who my family talked about in hushed tones.

I realised I’d been standing by the coffin for a long time, maybe five minutes, so I moved on. One of my aunties on dad’s side had taken Molly outside; I could hear her wails from just beyond the heavy wooden door. I walked stiffly back to the pew where I had previously been seated, and looked on as the vicar began to say a prayer of penitence. During her last days, mum had constantly apologised to me and Molly. Now we were saying sorry. I’m not sure what for. Sorry for not being able to save her. She had married into magic, and yet all the charms in the world hadn’t been able to stop her reaching today.

Still, Molly cried. Aunty Karen was crying, Grandma was crying, dad’s shoulders were shaking. We were standing outside in the rain, watching her coffin being shakily lowered into the ground. It was raining, but everything seemed such a bright green. Wind was blowing away the flowers that we tried to through on her grave and I could feel my dress beginning to cling to my skin.

I didn’t cry. I couldn’t explain it, but I felt relieved. I’d been having nightmares about mum dying for so long; every night I was plagued by them. I felt like I’d been freed. It was over now, no more waiting.

Author's Note: So, there you have it, the first ever chapter of my first ever fanfic! I know it was quite short, but it was just the prologue. Stylistically, I think that this fic is going to diverge somewhat from this chapter, but I felt like Lucy's grief was something very difficult to portray. The italicised line in paragraph one is from the hymn 'Abide With Me' by Henry Francis Lyte.

Since this is my first fic, I'd love you literally /forever/ if you reviewed! I bet there are some mistakes in here, as it has yet to be beta'd or anything like that, so yeah please drop me a little review!
Thanks x

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