My Great Grandpa

Finalist in the 'Written in the Stars 2013' competition

I press the chipped teacup to my lips, swallowing the weak, sugary liquid with a slight reluctance. I place the cup gently on the table, listening to the soft chime it makes and watching the tea swirl slightly. I lift my glance to my great grandpa’s face; round milky blue eyes, and deep wrinkles, but still as charming as he always was. He smiles a toothless grin, and I smile back. Little did I know that this would be the last time I ever saw his face…
***
I stretch my arms and stifle a yawn, rubbing my weary eyes. I stumble out of bed, still half asleep. As I grab the doorknob, my head starts to clear and I hear loud sobbing, I press my ear against the wall to listen…
“You know sometimes, you might not always be there for your grandparents, but he was always here for me,” were the muffled words I strained to understand.
As I pull away from the wall the words start to blend into each other, but there was no more I needed to hear. Tears start to escape from my eyes and my cheeks flush red. I crumple against the door and weep quietly to myself, the tears cool and salty against my hot skin.
'I have to be brave,' I thought, clenching the handle with my sweaty palm and slowly twisting it, the door creaking open.
I trudge across the carpet; my feet seem to weigh a ton as they scuff against the floor. My mum is standing in silence, wiping her eyes with a tissue, trying to be positive. I try to talk but my words come out as squeaks. I exhale deeply.
“Mum… Did Gramps…pass?” I stammer.
She puts her arms around me and holds me tight, it was done, and he was gone, forever.
***
We pull up outside the church, lips pursed, expressionless. It’s too much of an effort to smile without crying, so I don’t. Familiar faces fill the room, close family, friends, and extended family. They are all smiling, but their eyes tell a different story. I don’t have enough strength to tune in, so I just lower my gaze to the floor.
The voices drone on, and multiple hymns are played, the sorrow overwhelming. I close my eyes and listen to the deep sound of the organ, biting my lip to keep the cries in.
When we exit the church, my head aches and my eyes are watery and itchy. I make an effort to fix a smile on my face as people I’m sure I’ve never met try to jog my memory about them. The spirits have lifted now that we are away from the church, but not mine. My heart is on the floor, and my optimism is low. Several people offer me cakes and biscuits, but I’m too sick to eat a morsel.
***
My life goes on, never to be the same.

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