“The phenomena of a house divided is that no one knows until the house crumbles around them.”
Ademar Resd-North’s body would be buried in secret.
Wendy North and her husband, Danil Resd, placed his body on their private ketch and circumnavigated Indigo Isle in order to reach the Bay of Shifting Sands. The two of them handled the vessel in silence as Duré’s wind blew against them. Like most northerners, Danil Resd was an experienced sailor. When he realized that it would be impossible to fight the wind past the 110 degrees, he landed the ketch and they placed their son’s body on a stretcher. They would not allow their son to be buried by a stranger. They both strapped shovels to their backs and carried the stretcher together.
They walked a full day through the piercing south wind. It was a cold wind. A cold wind in the middle of summer meant only one thing. Wendy North wondered if the southern stories were real. Yes, they experienced a natural phenomenon. Yes, the Sun, stars, and orbs disappeared from the sky. But, the gore; those stories must be an exaggeration, stories to frighten children. She knew all trading would cease for at least a year. It was the custom once the cold wind from the south blew over the summer days. The wind would die. Summer would return unabashed. The southerners called it the Dark Night. If she believed in omens, this wind would be a bad omen.
As dusk approached the terrain changed suddenly and the green flora receded drastically. In its place, fine white sand began to creep between the trees and onto the road. The road was empty of life. It was in disrepair with whole swaths of it missing or crumpled onto itself. They walked until the road was swallowed up by the sand. Ahead of them, the rising dunes of the shifting sands blotted the indigo sky. It was the only place on Indigo Isle that was uninhabited. They began climbing up the dunes and pushed deep into the night until they reached an area both agreed was appropriate for Ademar. Luna Fria, the orb visible across the Nation of the Sea of Warm, was bright in the night sky.
They settled the body on the ground and fell to the tiresome task of digging a grave. After hours of sweat, they had removed enough sand to lay and cover the body.
After the grave was dug deep enough, Wendy fell to the ground next to Ademar. “Danil., hand me the oils.” She said without emotion, exhausted.
Danil climbed out of the grave and walked over to the bags they had placed a few feet from the body. He rummaged through a blue leather bag and pulled out two glass bottles. The glass bottles were corked but the oily liquid still smeared down the sides of the glass. Danil handed Wendy the bottles. The sand on his hands had clung to the oily bottles.
The tart smells of the sarsaparilla and cassia oils filled her nostrils immediately. They immediately masked the stinging smells emanating from Ademar’s body. The preservatives were ancient but they smelled terrible. Danil walked back to the bag and pulled out a large sheet of silk and placed it over the sand next to the stretcher carrying Ademar. Wendy North grabbed the body of her dead son by the shoulders and with a grunt pushed him from the stretcher to the silken sheet. Danil Resd grabbed the body by the legs and did the same.
Wendy grabbed the bottle of sarsaparilla oil and poured over Ademar’s face. She placed the bottle next to his face and rubbed the oil into his hair, cheeks, and neck. She took up the bottle of cassia and poured it over his face. She repeated the motions over his face and hair. Wendy moved over the naked torso and poured oil from the sarsaparilla and then from the cassia. She rubbed the body down. Danil looked at the body of his son and started sobbing. He was turning blue and purple even with the preservatives.
Wendy looked up at Danil, “in another time, in another world, I would say he was uploading.”
Danil opened his eyes wide, “don’t speak like that,” he gasped through his sobs.
Wendy continued rubbing the oils on her son’s dead body without another word. Danil bent down to his knee hovering over Ademar’s head and began to elaborately wrap his in the fine silken cloth. Wendy finished with the boy’s feet and stood to allow Danil to continue wrapping the body up. When Danil was done but still kneeling before the body, Wendy walked to him and bent down to kiss his forehead. Wendy grabbed Ademar’s body by the feet and Danil from the head as they rolled him into the hole. The sand was filling in the hole as the cold wind blew.
They had not spoken about the ceremony throughout the whole ordeal. Their silence rose from different corners of their lives. Wendy North was bitter and Danil Resd was in pain. Danil Resd had a heavy hand in raising their son. Wendy North wished she had given him more time. She was governing. Her only child. A child of passion and youth. She had failed him. She felt that his father had failed him.
They stood next to each other; side by side in silent grieve. Tears ran down Danil’s face. Wendy’s eyes were glossy, but she had always been better at controlling her emotions than Danil.
She took a deep breath as a tear finally trickled down her face. From her pocket, she brought out a paper and read:
“In pain, I brought you forth
by the raging sea and the indigo
of heaven, I cried your birth.
Tears of pain, happiness,
Tears gripped you from under death.
Then, holding you on the fourth
Day your screams echoed through our chateau.
My redness still poured forth
But I ran, clutching you without breath,
I collapsed in darkness.
I am now in darkness.
Where has my son gone?
By the hand of Corē,
Where has my son gone?
I have washed ashore
From a sea of shadow
Lead me back to earth.
Lead me back to the light.
In the silver of the night
I stand without answers,
I stand without questions.”
As she recited the last lines from memory Wendy crumpled the paper into a ball. She let go of the paper and it rolled into the grave. She also allowed herself let go of a tightly repressed sob. Her husband placed a hand on her shoulder and she pushed the hand aside. Sobbing, she picked up the shovel at her feet and began to bury her son.
Danil couldn’t anymore, he collapsed on his knees. He screamed. He ripped his shirt. His yell, full of frustration and hopelessness, echoed in the early morning light as the stars hid behind the hazy first light. In agony, he stood up. He walked to the shovel on the other side of the grave. He picked it up and began to pour sand on his son.
Danil sobbed uncontrollably as he poured sand into the grave. Wendy was silent. Her face hard against the rising sun. They continued until the sun was high in the sky and their son was deep in the ground.