Through the lens of internal interpretation, this is how I had perceived the day.
She spoke, words blasted beyond pain. Hollowed from repetition, her fragile facade an onion skin away from crumbling into nothing.
Her words lacked passion. Spark. Vitality’s chamber a dry echo of a long empty well.
I wondered how many times she has been here. On this stage, before this crowd. Saying these words.
These… empty words. Words so meaningful, yet barren of life.
This is not a call to action. This is a funeral.
We remember the smile of a man we never met, the words we never heard him say. We relive his moments, moments that we’ve never seen.
Experience his life, we’ve never lived.
She does a decent job at resurrection. But, it’s zombified. Distorted. Jerky motion of a smooth existence. Recounting words, through the echo of grief, a skewed mirror of reflection.
Did no one see it? The wraith in her shadow, faded in the spotlights, but still present. Tracking her movements, a forlorn creature of tortured physique.
Could no one see it?
The line stretches away. Shuffle step, shuffle step. We wait our turn to approach. To pay our respects. To pay our money.
I watch her hands, worn and beginning to wrinkle, as they flow steadily across the pages. Tens of thousands of hundreds. Page after page, I can see her fingers inking the pages, word after word on a sea of white. As I get closer, I spot the weariness in her bearing, like a crushing weight on her once strong shoulders. Her hair has begun to fade to gray and wisps of white interlaced the remaining blond.
I watch her with morbid curiosity, staring with an acute fascination. Is this… is this what suffering looks like?
So vacant. Absent.
I’m surprised when it’s my turn, feels like forever in the brief span of time. Taking the book, I slide it onto the table in front of her. She doesn’t even meet my eyes, her hands already moving to begin the ritual engraved into muscle memory.
“What do you want it to say?” The false vibrancy is gone, stripped away. Enamel worn away.
You poor soul. “Write ‘_________________________________’.”
Her hands move upon the page. Mechanical.
I see it now. The wraith. A ghost of her.
She has been climbing that stage for years. Saying word after word. Writing page after page.
Falling on deaf ears. Ears of stagnation, rather than activation.
She’s been carrying her son, all these miles. Bandying him in front of the world. At first, because it felt right. Then, because she was told it was right. But now the conviction’s gone. And she’s tired.
Tired of carrying the corpse of her dead son like a banner before the masses.
Pen stroke complete, Mrs Shepherd hands back my book, her eyes staring past me, to the line of endless book signings, eternal struggle, constant battle.
She will not rest.
Her son… is gone.