By JAMIE HAN
Annais died on a Friday, but Mr. and Mrs. Nabokov didn’t find her body until the following Monday when the school asked about her absence.
The way I pictured it, they ventured up to her bedroom and the windows were wide-open. Sunlight filtered in through the sheer curtains; a veil of dew had frozen along the edge of the windowsill. They pulled the duvet away to reveal Annais’ face, the same pallor as the underbelly of a dead fish. Her lips were parted as though she was in the midst of taking her final breath. Her eyes were wide-open as if the moment of her death would be forever imprinted in the hazel.
It was so much like Annais, I thought, dramatic even in death.
Her funeral was held on a Sunday morning. The sky was gray and dreary; it cast an opaque kind of light that made everything look waxy and plastic. There was a palpable kind of despair–the kind you could taste in the air and catch on your tongue.
Annais was clothed in her favorite black dress, the one that accentuated the length of her legs and had lace lining the hems. Her pale hair was fanned perfectly across the silky pillow where her head lay. Mouth painted an unnatural shade of red. Annais was as beautiful as ever, but death had given her alabaster complexion an unearthly, almost luminescent, quality.
I couldn’t help but notice a certain thinness to her, which could only be explained by the inexplicable weight-loss from the eviction of the human soul. She was Annais but she wasn’t. It was like the Annais in the casket was a much simpler, abridged version of the original–cut short.
The mortician said it was suicide; said that Annais had overdosed on painkillers. The little blue ones I’d seen her take so many times before. I didn’t know what to believe. It was true I hadn’t seen her for the past few days, but the conclusion of death had been far from possible my mind. The only thing that’d ever been constant about Annais was her absence. Annais was one to spontaneously go ‘missing’.
Everyone had a hard time of knowing what she was doing or where she’d go next. Annais was always fine on her own. She would reappear without any coaxing, whenever she felt it was convenient, or when she thought maybe people were getting along fine without her.
And now that she was gone, nothing was fine.