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[personal profile] exitseraphim posting in [community profile] dearcousin
Dear Ilyana,

I’m glad to hear you have people (if that’s even the right word to use) helping you get settled in. It sounds like your apartment complex attracts a pretty unusual crowd. School will hardly be as interesting as dragonbats (what do they look like, exactly?), but I’ll keep you updated. Christophe seems nice, if a bit proper. Well, proper people are easier to deal with than improper people, I think. And – you know – I should have known to put more things in your coffin. I would have put your Killjoys shirt and ipod in as well as your Cibo Matto CD.

Mom took me to get new notebooks yesterday. I really hope I fill them up this year. I never do, but it seems so disorganized to keep using the same notebooks when it’s a new school year. Mom asked if I felt ready for school to start tomorrow, and I shrugged. I mean, it'll happen no matter what, so what's the point of having feelings about it?

We also went to get my class schedule: English, algebra II, chemistry, world history, P.E., German II, supervised study. I don’t know much about any of the other teachers, but I have Ms. Fajans for English again. I think I’ve told you about her. She takes more interest in me than she does in the other students. She worries about me. I know because once, after class, she said that if I wanted to talk to anyone confidentially, she could help me find recommendations. Her girlfriend is a therapist, she said. I said thank you, but it's unnecessary, and she didn't bring it up again. I liked that. Although – sometimes when her worry becomes especially suffocating and patronizing, I want to resent her. The problem with that is that I can see her point of view. She just doesn’t understand that I’m okay with not having any friends. Well, other than you. In any case, it'll be nice to have one fewer new person to have to meet this year.

I met a lot of people at your funeral. Family members from far away, your friends from school and art class, etc. Dedushka and Babushka came all the way from Brighton Beach. I should have said more about the funeral in my last letter, but I had to end it there. You understand.

It was a small ceremony. A lot of people read about you in the papers and wanted to come, but Aunt Polina didn't want to have an open ceremony. She fought about it with your dad. He thought there wasn't much harm in having a few reporters there, since it's an event of public interest, but Aunt Polina threw a fit. "Our family's pain isn't some goddamn theater spectacle for people to gawk at!" I could hear her screaming from my room. What was I doing then? Nothing, I think, just sitting there listening.

She's right though. Uncle Jeroen doesn't have to hear all the whispers and gossip that had been flying around since he's been staying in a lot. Once, when Aunt Polina and I were on our way to the funeral home, some lady on the street yelled at Aunt Polina for letting you go into the woods by yourself, saying that she deserved this. It's quiet here, you know that, so this is the biggest local news of the summer. You're a celebrity. You always said you would be.

Anyway, back to the funeral. Mr. Tully, the funeral director, was very helpful. Remember that one time we planned our funerals? I found that page in my notebook and showed it to him and he said he'd do his best to make it happen. Obviously your parents weren't too into the whole elephants on parade idea, but we did hold it at the parish with the pretty stained glass windows. (They were okay with it not being a religious ceremony. Told you they'd be fine with it. Money's money.) Aunt Polina made a speech. I brought my cello and played "Sarabande" from Suite 2 in D minor by Bach, the song from that weird black and white Swedish movie we watched last winter break. People cried. Mom and Dad both said a few things. We watched a slideshow. There were a lot of photos of us. Uncle Jeroen made another speech. They closed the casket and put a white cloth over it and provided different colored sharpies so people could write you notes. I took a photo of it after everyone got a chance to write something. It was really colorful. I think you would have liked it. We went to the cemetery in a procession and you were lowered into the ground. Your headstone's all right. It's grey.

Sorry this isn't the greatest description; it's all so vivid to me that it's like a movie on repeat with surround sound in my mind but then when I start writing things down -- well, there was this one moment, when your dad was speaking and I sort of stopped listening since those platitudes don't say much about you and I could see in Uncle Jeroen's expression that he knew that too, when the light filtering through a stained glass window illuminated swirling particles of dust in a direct beam upon your face, you didn't look angelic but you looked yourself. Despite the make-up, despite all the work the embalmer had to do to make you look the way you did before you drowned. She succeeded at making you look like you, but only at that because it was all wrong really. She made a doll in your semblance, but the light washed away all the falseness and in that one moment you were you. Then the moment passed and time and sound and space and linearity flooded back and you were gone for good.

I don't want school to start tomorrow.

Love,
Emma

May 2015

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