The crowd watches as she walks forward and unthreads a pale rose. Its thornless stem, shaven into meek concave depressions, fits her fingers. White faces fan her then turn slowly back to the flat green oblongs laid out on the grass, disappearing neatly into the pit.
Now the box is lifted. It is large and long but even though it is full it is not as heavy as it looks. Ten days makes a difference to weight.
Silent men hold its corners lightly. With the green oblongs pulled taut the box is lowered below ground. Sightlines are interrupted and resumed with a sigh.
Soil is offered and thrown down in handfuls. She imagines seeds too far underground, shoots never reaching the light. Years from now worms finding new richness in the earth. She lets the rose drop. Turning away from the men with their eager shovels and empty palms. Waiting.
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Gaga was the first word out of her mouth but unlike the other firsts in her life she had no memory of it. It was as if it had never happened.
Sometimes she wished she could gaga again, especially when she felt that lump in her throat, fat as a hardboiled egg swallowed by a snake.