Death of a Stranger
We are flying to New York and the plane is driving me crazy. I'm not usually fond of flying, far from it but sometimes I am forced to accept the fact that it is a necessary evil. The problem is that I'm having a hard time trying to convince myself of the fact that this is one of those times. Simply put, I'd rather be anywhere but here. For a man with enhanced senses a plane is its own version of hell, and no, I'm most definitely not exaggerating. There is the sound and vibration of the engines, the flawed attempts at pressurizing the cabin, the recycled air, and the stench of humanity that I just can't seem to dial down. In addition to that there are three crying babies on board, including one that is only a couple of rows back... a baby that is in desperate need of a new diaper. Yes, planes are hell but the fact remains that being stuck in this infernal flying tin can is just the beginning of what promises to be a long and rather painful ordeal. The next couple of days are not going to be fun and I know it.
I got the call early this morning, a call telling me that she's dead so here I am, flying all the way across a continent to attend her funeral because it's what's expected of me even though I never knew her, not really. I don't know what to expect, I'm just grateful that Sandburg's with me. I tried to get Steven to come but he's currently in Tokyo and dad's in no shape to travel. The thing is that this is one of those situations that are unavoidable but everyone tries to avoid just the same. If I could have come up with an excuse I would have... and a part of me hates itself for that.
Sandburg's been trying to get me to talk about it for hours, as we made the arrangements for this trip and while I know his intentions are good the truth is that there's nothing for me to say. Yes, she's dead but as far as I'm concerned she died forty years ago when she walked away from us... and now I'm going to her funeral and I'm not sure what to think of the whole thing. What I dread the most is to be surrounded by people who will expect me to think of her as my mother, or who will expect me to have something to say during the service... of course, chances are they won't even know who I am.
The fact is that I never met Grace and there's no reason for me to believe that most of her friends and acquaintances are even aware of the fact that she once had two sons... maybe if there are any aunts or uncles there, they'll remember but that will probably be it. She never had time for her family, for us, and that's the truth. That's one of the reasons why I never really bothered to try and look her up as an adult. I remember overhearing some conversations she had with my old man in which he was all but begging her to take us for a few days and her answer was always 'no'... and now I'm expected to mourn her?
I mean, sure, things with dad weren't perfect. He was as skilled at taking care of us as the average man born in the thirties. For him being a father meant being a provider and maintaining the discipline. Nurturing was a woman's job, one he believed to be beneath him, one he never even tried to fulfill. For that we had Sally, the woman who was actually there, the one who never left us.
So here I am, on this damned plane, with my senses driving me crazy and my guide sitting by my side. As annoying as they are, I'm still trying desperately to focus on the sounds and scents around me as I try not to think about the woman whose funeral I'm about to attend, a woman I can only remember leaving me, a woman who died only a few hours ago but whose ghost has been haunting me for decades.