Rosalie walked in to her daughter’s open room and looked around.

“God! What a mess!!” she thought with an exasperated sigh. She turned around to face her favorite photo of Allan and their daughter Ashley. “Ah! What I wouldn’t give to just keep looking at both of them all my life?” she wondered. She loved them more than love itself.

Rosalie’d always cherished the way Ashley’s room smelt. She inhaled deeply, closing her eyes in the process, waiting for it to hit her senses. The tiniest of frowns had formed between her brows as she kept waiting and finally opened her eyes with disappointment. For the first time in the six years after she’d had Ashley, she couldn’t feel the scent. She brushed the thought aside and looked around Ashley’s messy room again.

Her eyes were drawn to a pink and yellow quilt on the bed; the quilt she had stitched up for Ashley when she had been carrying. She was plunged in to a sudden whirlpool of affection for Ashley, a tiny smile played at her lips she reached her left hand out to grab it. The quilt wouldn’t leave the bed. She shook her head to steer clear of distractions and tried picking it up again, only this time, concentrating. She saw that her hand just passed through the quilt as if it was made of thin air. The frown between her brows deepened. She tried to grab the books which haphazardously lay next to the quilt and with no comprehension what so ever, she stood bewildered there with the same trepidation flooding through her body threatening to drown her. She frantically tried grabbing stuff. She felt her heart race. “Was it a dream? Was she asleep?” she couldn’t help wonder. She stood there frigid, with her left hand on her thumping heart staring at the place in dazed apprehension.

With her frown still in place and heart still racing she turned and ran down the stairs. There were people. A lot of people. Their neighbors, family, friends, Allan’s work friends and many others she hadn’t known. “Some kind of a congregation? But then everyone looked sad. Some even distraught. God please let this be a dream!” she pleaded. She went up to the lady close by and asked “What’s all this? What’s going on?” and the lady just ignored her. It was like she wasn’t even there. She just looked right through Rosalie. “How rude!” she exclaimed as she stomped off toward the garden in search of Allan and Ashley.

A sudden realization of all these people being clad in black descended upon Rosalie. “Why are they all in black? What happened? Allan? Where are you?” She called out to Allan but Allan didn’t respond. He was hunched over a crying Ashley. The sight made Rosalie’s cringe. She hurried over and tried to pry Ashley from Allan’s tight grip to look at her beloved daughter and hug her and tell her that everything was fine.

But she couldn’t. She couldn’t touch her. Not Allan. Not Ashley. Not anyone!

There had been a brown box all along. A long brown box. A box that could fit a fully grown human being. She looked at the box and then back at Allan and Ashley and back at the box again. She hadn’t noticed the blurred backdrop of a funeral. She was too caught up in all the ongoing absurdity to spare attention to anything else.

With a comprehending finality, understanding dawned on Rosalie. She knew it. Her frown had vanished. Only to be replaced by a hard set jaw and dead eyes. She couldn’t believe her now-wide eyes.

“There had to be some mistake. This was not possible. She had to see it for herself!” she frantically told herself.

She walked cautiously toward the box and peeped inside to look at a pair of very familiar eyes. Eyes that she’d seen in the mirror for thirty two years. Only this time when she looked, they were closed – closed for the last time – closed for good.

Lying there was Rosalie Strafford.