Standing in an entrance to the room, observing every detail about her voice being such a mess to understand. Hovering his eyes over the room, over Edgar’s bed, and then he saw it. The poor man was lying motionless in the pool of his own piss, which seemed like he laid there for hours. Right beside his bed stood Ruth, kneeled down on her knees and spelling out few words – over and over. With tears running from her eyes and sobbing through her words.
“Paps no…You…You have to wake up…Paps…” voice became deeper and sorrow began attaching to it “No paps…you have to…wake up…”
No matter how much she shook him, he gave out no response. Matthew’s eyes couldn’t make up what to think about it.
“No, he’s not…right Paps…” she refused to believe the sad truth.
“We have to call the ambulance, they’ll take care of him”
“He’s alright…Just very deep sleep.”
“Ruth! I don’t want to state it out like that, but he might be…”
“Okay, I’m ringing an ambulance.”
Pulled out the phone and began pressing numbers, when Ruth suddenly interrupted.
“Don’t bother Matthew.” She brushed few tears from her eyes “last time he was sent there, they told him straightforward…The next drinking he’ll have…will probably be lethal. Something about liver failure…but he couldn’t listen. Why paps? Why?”
She shook him lightly and after accepting the sad truth her tears of sadness turned into a waterfall of sorrow. Mathew standing by the end of Edgar’s feet slowly began coming closer to Ruth. Gently he kneeled right beside her and covered her shoulder with his left arm. Few teardrops ran down from Matthew’s eye. Watching one of his childhoods’ family friend lying there, for his last time. The guy who always slimed and threw jokes about everyone, the one who always entertained everyone, now was lying motionless, giving only pain and sorrow to close ones. Seeing Ruth on her knees, besides her father’s dead body began filling his heart with regret for being the one who drank with Edgar last night. “Did I was the reason for him lying here like a dead man?” Matthew thought to himself as he consciously stared at Edgar.
Words came through sobbing of cheerful women; from women who never meant bad for anyone and always smiled at anyone.
“Early in the mornings, I told he sleeps like a dead man…And now…now he actually does,” tears slid from her eyes, across her cheeks. She inhaled air through her nostrils and muttered under her nose “I hope I could take my words back.”
“You can’t take your words back, but we can give him a proper burial.”
“No Matthew. The last thing he would want, to be left rotting underground with hundreds of maggots.” she brushed away last tears from her cheeks, stood up and look down on her beloved father. “We’ll burn him instead. We’ll free his spirit on this yard. That is what he would want and that is what we’re gonna do.”
“Wait!” With surprise, he stood up and looked at her with a confused grimace “Burn him? Here? In this backyard? Don’t you think it’s a little unhuman?”
Her voice picked up a tone and lowered after exhaling air from inside of her lungs
“You should understand Matty; that was his wish. After the doctors visit he told me, that if he hits his last hour and I will be there, then I should burn his body. His last words were: ‘so my spirit would never leave my home.’”
“Woah, I never though Edgar could have such desire. How you want to do this?”
“I have a though, just bear this with me.”
She started explaining him word after word how it would go. Matthew kept listening and she kept going from one topic to another, guiding him from one detail to another.
Edgar’s room started to become more unbearable for them; the smell of piss, booze, and slowly rotting flesh was turning away everyone who stepped their leg in there. Luckily none of them were there. Both, Matthew and Ruth went to woods for dry wood. Beginning to build a fireplace, large enough for Edgar to lay over it. With branch after branch laid down horizontally, stacking up to half a meter from ground and wildflowers covering the bottom of it. It took them all Sunday – preparation for Edgar’s place, where his body would leave this world and it was time to connect his spirit to the land of his.
In-room with a smell so unbearable that no living would want to spend a single minute there; stood Edgar, motionless, with few flies hovering over his dead body.
“How you want to do this?”
“Despite my love for him, I don’t want to dress him up like they do for funerals. Help me lift him up would you.”
For the body of a drunk old man, he sure weighted close to a hundred kilos and with a smell so terrible as it was, they began carrying him out of the house. On their way to the fireplace, they thought his limbs could tear off due to their way of carrying him – with Ruth holding by his hands and Matthew by his feet.
“On one… two… three…”
Edgar’s body flew in fire-place, Matthew grabbed the nearest burning branch and stated.
“Honor is yours, friend.” She grabbed the branch and began lighting up the bottom of the fireplace.
“I remember how you taught me to ride a bicycle, how to say ‘no’ to douchebags,” she lid one side under him “I remember how you used to tell me stories before night and how I always fell asleep before you could finish,” she began circling around with burning wood in her hand and muttering her last words “I will never forget how you taught me to be kind to everyone, despite the bad in the world; you were the one who told to smile on it,” few tears ran from her eyes “As you said paps: ‘Some people are going to leave, but that’s not the end of your story.’”
She dropped the burning branch in the fire and both of them kept staring in it. The slow burning of wood and the smell of burning flesh set terrifying feel in both of them.
“We will die one day Ruth, just like he did. But we’ll have the decision; either we let the worst take over us or grasp everything there is from life .”
“Don’t think I understand that.”
“Ruth, I don’t want to sound selfish or anything, but…” he lifted his head to look at clouds in the sky and continued “do you think it was destined to happen. For two broken souls to meet up and leave their past behind. Why you don’t come with me?”
“You truly have no other to go with you, don’t you?” she turned her eye towards his. Both now stood still, Matthew gazed in fire and Ruth stood beside him.
“Well, I always have Mike.”
“Wait, who is Mike?”
“He is good friend of mine, one of the kind. He would agree to such wild trip, only if his girlfriend allow him.”
“I must meet him, this Mike of yours.” Despite beloved Edgar’s body leaving this world, happiness raised in their souls, slight hope began warming their hearts. “But Matty I don’t know, this isn’t a good moment to make decisions like that.”
“Yeah, I get that, take your time. I will stick around if you want some company.”
“It’s your decision and yours only. I won’t force against your own will, you know me. But like I said, there is someone I want you to meet. I think this is the end of something good and beginning of something beautiful.”
“You won’t spoil me by any chance? Who might be this mysterious person?” his face covered up in curiosity and he couldn’t shake off the idea who is the person Ruth wants him to meet.
“You want to take all the fun out of it?” her eyes closed for a quick moment and she gave him an optimistic grin.”We should get drunk. What you say?”
“I don’t think its good idea for me, this morning’s dry mouth and slight headache made me reconsider booze in general.”
“Come on Matt. Don’t let a girl who just lost her father drink alone in sorrow. Do you have work tomorrow?”
“More reasons to get shit faced.”
She grabbed his hand and began going into the house, just like the night before. Everything in the house kept reminding about Edgar; from his home-made booze to lying chunks of tobacco on a kitchen table. Ruth pulled out an unlabeled glass bottle and Matthew knew, it stood for booze. They opened windows for the terrible stench to leave the house and for fresh air to replace the smell of booze. Both friends sat beside the table, with a bottle in between and kept talking nonsense to each other, sharing thoughts and having simple conversations. The quick phase of emptying the bottle gifted Matthew a pitch black picture and last thing he could remember was Ruth face, just across the table.