Cups with Coriander: Filters
I shivered; why is it always overcast and chilly for a burial? The sea of solemn faces at the graveside braced against the cutting wind, and still-closed umbrellas were clutched in proactive preparation.
The young pastor of Cori’s church (Cori’s church?) spoke eloquently of the young woman who’d only recently begun attending Sunday services. How she would silently slip, alone, into the sanctuary, wearing her dark sunglasses, and leave immediately after the final hymn. How she smiled guardedly to those who greeted her. How he looked forward to getting to know her.
He took an interesting view of her death- Cori simply could not care for herself any longer, the burden was too great, she was too tired. Therefore, she turned to the greatest caretaker of all, and put her life into His Hands. He saw it as a tremendous act of faith.
Around me, I saw several people glance at each other uneasily, and even heard a little grumbling. I looked at the glossy black coffin in front of me. His message was controversial, true, but it gave me a moment of comfort to think that Cori was not confined in that box, but was peacefully resting with a loving God.
Liam had done his best to make his apartment look inviting; he had placed photos of Cori and himself on end tables, and had asked his sisters to cook all her favorite dishes for the wake.
I tapped on the unlocked and door carrying a bottle of wine, and surveyed the crowded yet hushed living room. I made my way to the kitchen and asked the woman slicing banana bread if there was anything I could do to help.
“Thank you, I actually could use a hand. I’m Liam’s older sister, Janelle.”
We shook hands.
“I’m Cori’s friend, Ellen.”
The smile faded on her face, but she composed herself quickly and said, “Oh! Well…I’m glad you made it. Could you put the dip on the table?”
I carried the bowl into the dining room where a huge table had been set up for food. As I busied myself clearing stray paper plates and cups, I wondered why Janelle had reacted the way she had to my introduction. What had she heard about ‘Ellen’ that made her uneasy?
My mind skipped backwards to that day: Walking, as if underwater, into the hospital and seeing her mother weeping. Liam, so distraught he’d had to be sedated, insensible on the bed next to hers. Cori- Cold, grey. A shadow of her former self. Lifeless. I looked quizzically at the police officers roaming in and out of the room. Were they even real?
Catherine was there; she explained furtively that in the early morning hours, Cori had finally convinced her nurse to increase her pain medication dosage to lethal strength, and then fell to her final sleep. In the hallway, the nurse, still defiant in her handcuffs, turned her head towards me, and with eyes blazing, she whispered:
“Be it on your head.”
I walked to her.
“What do you mean? Why would you say that?”
But she turned her stolid face to the wall and would say no more. An officer approached and shoo’ed me away, and Catherine took my arm, urging me to come home with her and have some dinner.
“You look like you haven’t eaten in days.”
“What did she mean? Why would this be my fault?”
“She’s crazy, honey. No matter what Cori asked, the woman is a murderer. Don’t give it another thought.”
But over the course of the week, I gave it hundreds more thoughts; this nurse had been angry at me before…what had I done?
I jumped and shook my head; I was still standing with a paper cup in my hand, bent over the guacamole.
“Liam. How are you holding up? Is there anything I can do?”
His sunken eyes locked with mine through the brown hair that hung over his face.
“Yes. You can leave.”
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more by VK LYNNE
photograph Marta Pawlik