Blink | Teen Ink


May 12, 2022
By Samhradh GOLD, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Samhradh GOLD, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
18 articles 2 photos 61 comments

Favorite Quote:
Dá fhada an lá tagann an tráthnóna.

(No matter how long the day, evening comes)

They stood in a field in a circle. And they watched. Twyla rubbed her arm absent-mindedly as she stood next to her sister. For her mind was certainly somewhere else. Staring.

            The car ride there was bearable. Hazy and long, with rolling hills of countryside beside her, she stared intently out the window. Hearty string notes resonated from the radio as she listened to the Steeldrivers. Sometimes she would look over at her sister, Tabitha, or Tabs as she liked to call her, and her big brown eyes would be shiny and blank. It was not a chatty car ride. Her parents were solemn and impatient, cursing the length of the drive as they went along. But what other choice did they have? He was gone. The drive there was just the room they waited in until they got to hell.

            And hell it was, with all the family members in a circle, peering down the cold clay hole. A little frog of fear leaped into Twyla’s throat and trembled there for the rest of the day. She found a spot to stand sandwiched between her uncle and her sister; her hand, as if it had a life of its own accord, squirmed its way into the warm crevice of Tabitha’s arm.

            Then it began. Twyla jumped at the crack of the first round of gunshots and ground her teeth to brace herself for the next. It still caught her off guard. Crack! Silence. Crack! Silence.

            When it was over, a man in a blue suit and hat played tinny notes on a small brass trumpet. Twyla’s mother told her later that that was a war song called “Taps” that they played for fallen heroes. Hot tears welled up behind Twyla’s eyes, her fists clenched and unclenched, and they streamed freely down her face. The wail of that one lone trumpet was more than she could bear, so she took deep breaths and stared down at the grass at her feet. The song went on for eternity, but when it ended what came next was worse.

Her grandmother held a box wrapped in a blue blanket. In that box held Twyla’s Pap. A once golden, grinning man, decimated and turned to ash by a world he helped to build. Her grandmother carried him over to the little clay hole, marked by a slab of gray tombstone. She kneeled in the grass and wept. Clutching the carboard box close to her chest she uttered the words,

“I-I can’t. I can’t do it.”

So she sat there, and Twyla saw a vision of herself being the hero of the ceremony, placing her grandfather in the ground where he wanted to rest, and flaunting that for the rest of the day. But she didn’t move. It wasn’t right. It was his moment, not hers.

Twyla’s mother eventually rushed out to help her grandmother and the man in the blue suit ran over too, to lower him in.

Then, by some small miracle, it was done. He was in the ground, swaddled in the blue blanket. He always complained of the cold. Twyla couldn’t help but think how unceremonious it was. Does anyone go anywhere when they die? She liked to think her Pap was in heaven, drinking with God, and looking down on them chuckling. But what if you’re just gone? Like the hand of some small child reaching for a light switch. Blink. Then darkness.

The author's comments:

Don't forget to look around once in a while.

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