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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Douglas on November 15, 2007
"Memory is an odd thing. Sometimes I remember the strangest things from my childhood. This little story is actually true, as best as I can remember it."

Crying at a Funeral

It was my very first funeral. Don't ask me who died, because I really don't remember. He was a cousin, or an uncle, or something, on my mother's side of the family. And since most of my mother's family didn't live around here, I don't know a lot of them. I certainly didn't have any feelings, one way or the other, toward this stranger (I think his name was Peter) lying in a closed casket at the front of the room.

I think that's why this was my very first funeral - maybe the folks wanted me to understand what a funeral was like before I had to deal with the death of someone I knew and loved. That was probably a pretty smart idea.

As we sat there, about two thirds of the way back, my brother kept giving me a funny look. I didn't know why. Finally he jabbed me with his elbow.

"Stop crying," he hissed at me.

I stared at him. What?

"Stop crying," he said again.

"I'm not crying," I whispered in reply. I really wasn't crying, and I couldn't imagine why he thought I was.

"The whole room can hear you sniffling," he said.

I wiped my nose on the sleeve of my shirt. "I have a cold," I replied. "My nose is running."

"Nuh uh. You're crying."

"Am not," I said defensively.

"Well cut it out. Everyone will think you're crying."

Then it occurred to me what an odd conversation this was. "So?" I said, "What if they do? It's a funeral, isn't it? People are supposed to cry, aren't they?"

He didn't have anything to say about that.

Even so, for the rest of the service, I didn't dare let out even so much as a sniff, let alone a full blown sniffle. Which was a bit awkward, considering I didn't have any kleenex with me.

It was on days like those I wished I didn't have brothers.

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