by Andrea Holck

She wears too much eyeliner, a rough and heavy black encircling her eyelids as though a small child had applied the line with a dull crayon. She twists and pulls anxiously at her white-blonde hair, long and tangled.

She doesn’t belong here and is desperate to be gone. Her cream-colored dress and pink peony crown are all wrong, and before joining the circle, she had stashed her red flats behind the thick trunk of a magnolia tree. Now she cannot feel her toes.

She wonders who wrote the rules of mourning. Why they’ve sealed what remains of a body she loved in a locked box and buried it in the earth.

She thinks of the myths, the funeral pyres of warriors. If only she were standing by a fire, watching his last flurried dance, white ash circling upward like a flock of starlings, a garland of white against a black sky.

Andrea Holck is a writer, editor, and teacher living in London.

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