It’s always so ironic.
No rain during a funeral. Not a sea of black umbrellas, only sad and stony faces.
Not an army of saluting men, but just one lonely captain with tear-struck face and a neatly folded flag in his hands.
Amelia watches him with a cold kind of dissociation, watches him take slow steps towards her, watches him take a deep breath and straighten to his full height.
She watches him as he hands her the god-awful flag.
She’d rather have her son back.
Her every move feels distant, robotic, well-practiced.
She had too much practice with this.
Amelia whispered to her dad to not leave her alone.
She cried to her first husband to not go, where she couldn’t follow.
She yelled at her second to never come back, when his political career meant more than her, more than their son, who was killing himself to make the man proud for even a second.
She cannot even cry, feels cut of reality, when they bury her only son, when they bury her baby boy.
Her little soldier.
The man before her looks more grief-stricken than her probably. He looks heartbroken, like he wishes he had even this dumb flag to remember her baby by.
She could tell him to keep it, she has too many of them already.
But she couldn’t even see her son one last time.
But she couldn’t even bury his body next to his grandfather.
But she couldn’t even get his dog-tags to hold close to her chest and cry at the unfairness of it all.
It’s all lost deep somewhere in the Chinese sea – his dog-tags, his body, her son.
She’s going to keep this goddamn flag.
It’s rough in her hands, not even an imitation of how her son’s hair felt, when she ran through them with her fingers.
She wishes, in a moment of soul-crashing weakness, that her child was a fool and a coward.
She wishes he never left, never took on the world to save it, make it better.
She wishes her baby wasn’t a hero.
She wishes her Piers was alive.
Amelia curls onto herself, holds that stupid flag close and cries – ugly and heartbreaking, and agonizing.
There’s nothing left in her.