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PART four: obr

Chapter 22: The Ceremony

The cremation ceremony was held just before sunset. The SPRITE chose a beautiful spot between two large trees, with wide black trunks, and thick, bright white leaves. BUNS, dressed in her favorite clothes, was lowered into the mobile incinerator after everybody who wanted to share a few words was given a chance to do so. They all knelt around the incinerator once it was fired up, and the SPRITE led them in prayer as BUNS’ body was turned to ash.

The SPRITE took the urn that came out of the incinerator and handed it to OBR’s mother once the prayer was complete. They followed him, repeating the words he asked them to, as they made their way to the top of the ANJALIKA. The SPRITE had timed everything perfectly. OBR and his mother spread their loved one’s ashes from the highest point of the ANJALIKA as the three suns of UWA set in front of them.

A large dinner followed. The SPRITE had made arrangements to cater to different tastes. OBR sat in a corner, examining a particular possession of his sister, when the SPRITE came over and sat next to him.

“Are you satisfied with the ceremony, my son?” he asked, gently putting a hand on OBR’s back.

“Yes. Thank you for everything,” OBR replied, giving the SPRITE a halfhearted smile, as he tried to hide his discomfort.

“Good. Good,” the SPRITE said. “Listen, son. I know that you may not trust me, thanks to the actions of my brethren and superiors since the dawn of time. But please know that you are welcome here. Feel free to stop by any time. You can talk to me about anything. And I mean anything. I will not judge you. I will not condemn you. I will not ask you to change who you are. Well, if you’re hurting somebody or committing a crime, I might ask you to. But otherwise, I’m always here to listen. So please, think about it,” he said after a few minutes of uncomfortable silence.

“Thank you. And thank you again for everything,” OBR replied, as he put out a hand for the SPRITE to shake.

OBR went back to examining the stuffed toy that had come with the rest of his sister’s belongings. It didn’t make sense to him. Why did she have it? She had never liked such toys, not even when she was young. He had planned to put it in the incinerator with her body, so that it could keep her company as she journeyed to whatever lay beyond, but he couldn’t bring himself to go through with it at the very last minute. It was as if this lifeless creature had the last traces of his sister in it.

The creature had a variety of decorations on it, each completely different from the last. The colorful bullets on its horns had to be his sisters. The eye patch was a strong possibility as well. But the rest of it? The string, the colors, the necklace, the words UNA’s SKIMMA, those could not be his sister’s, could they? Was it a gift she received from somebody? A friend? A lover perhaps? Something else entirely?

A wave of emotion rushed at him out of nowhere. He hugged the SKIMMA tightly and began to sob, falling to the ground. He knew his sister was dead. He had known it for a few weeks now. He knew that he would never see or hold her again, never argue and fight with her again. And yet, there was this sudden realization, this sudden comprehension of what the death of his older sister truly meant. And, for the first time since he had been told about what happened to her, he felt its impact, the gravity of the finality of it all, in full.

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