The feeling of sorrow permeated throughout the room. It was as if it was a lingering whirl of smoke that threatened to clench your throat and stop you from breathing. One person had stopped breathing, resting with a slight curl of his lips into a peaceful grin. His gnarled scarred hands were gently locked together resting on his stomach. His eyes were closed and his fading white hair had been combed back. His wrinkled face that belied many years of hardship had adopted a pale white color of the dead.
Their father, Clayton Matthews, was gone.
He had survived two wars, his wife and a two bouts of cancer until finally, the ravages of time had taken its due.
Three black dressed shapes huddled around the black casket upon which would be Clayton Matthews resting place. One sitting in a chair hunched over hiding tears and the red tired eyes from whilst sobbing quietly. Another sat looking solemnly at the body, that had been once been their father, absorbing the silence whilst trying to take a breath of acceptance he so desperately needed. The final child, though all were now adults, was on the phone talking to the priest about the coming service happening later that day. They would be able to put their father to rest, next to their mother.
Clayton Matthews had died three days prior, and already now the children knew they would miss his patience and sage but rough military-tinged advice that had defined their upbringing. One could easily wonder where life would take them, how they would survive without the guidance of their parents.
There will be no certainty in the lives of the children of Clayton Matthews, except that they one day will also lie lifeless, hopefully at peace surrounded by their loved ones. But what of their lives now? What will the legacy of Clayton Matthews be in the physical manifestation of his children?
As a renowned psychologist, the eldest knew the emotional implications of their loss. He earned well: He drank expensive wines, ate at expensive experimental restaurants drove expensive cars, at this point the newest Aston Martin. It was all due to his success as a psychologist that catered toward the richer clientele. The kind of clientele that drowned their diamond studded problems in 12-year-old whiskey and prescribed medicine. Little did anyone know that he yearned for more. He had never married. Certainly, he had had several serious relationships in his fifty years, and even one son that he did not know existed. There was an emptiness to the eldest one's life, a significant purpose he believed that could be filled by the husband of one of his clients. He had never considered the same-sex as attractive until he had met Bill. The eldest knew the moral damnation of being romantically involved with patient's husband, but above all that continuous emptiness was being filled by a love he had never known so deeply before. The eldest was torn between the strict moral code infused by his own father and his feelings for the man.
Some days he smiled, overjoyed with the feeling of being in love and in others he despaired wondering what his deceased father would say and what advice he would give him. Yet... all the doubts and questions the eldest had would fall into the ether. They were never to be answered except by himself.
The Eldest was lost.
The Middle Child
The creative middle-child had always been rambunctious and filled with quippy one-liners. He now used those talents as a staff writer on a popular long-running sitcom on a network channel. Always one filled with too much emotion he was the one who sat hunched over crying at the sight of his dead father. That emotion was what drew people to him, but the emotional extremes he could elicit could also put him into a lot of trouble.
Little did his siblings know that he had been fired not four days ago from his position as a staff writer. The problem it seemed had come about when two years prior the best friend and a former co-worker Ron had taken credit for a collaborative effort on a pilot. The pilot had been sold to a prestigious cable channel received rave reviews and an Emmy. The middle-child had been put out into the cold. He was stuck in the same job, feeling as if he was writing the same stupid jokes for the same stupid reason.
As fate would have it, the show was changing filming locations using the adjacent studio where the middle-child was working. Ron had driven in with expensive gold-embossed shades in his shiny new Ferrari with a demeaning and mocking attitude when the middle-child had confronted him in the parking lot. The situation had escalated so drastically that when studio-security had arrived at the scene; the middle-child threatened to beat the shit out of his former best-friend with a plywood board.
His boss had fired him, in exchange for Ron not pressing any charges for assault. Though Ron had been the only one to actually physically hit the middle child.
With a third child on the way, the middle child was in a precarious economic situation. Too proud to ask his more successful siblings for help on that front he worked hard on polishing a script he had written years ago in hopes that it would be his breakthrough.
All his hopes and dreams and the security of his family lay completely in the hands of this script and prior to his father's death, he had focused so intently on it that he did not see the failing marriage to his pregnant wife.
If his father had been alive, he would have set him straight, soft but brusque advice would have taken the edge of that blade of fear sticking into the back of the middle-child. He would have awoken out of the foggy stupor, that was his intense focus on that manuscript.
He was teetering on the edge of total collapse. Too proud to ask help from his siblings. The only savior the middle-child had was the gnarled man resting in the coffin. Perhaps the manuscript would be a masterpiece. Perhaps, the middle child would find even greater success than his former best friend. Perhaps he would salvage his family life. Perhaps.
The oft-serious and focused youngest child was on the phone, as always with her eye for detail she steered the funeral arrangements clear of any unforeseen events. She had done so for their mother's funeral and now she was the one leading the arrangements of their father's.
The youngest child was career focused, a fast-talking business woman with a ruthless streak that had served her well in her years in New York. She never came home as often as the other two, always too busy to see her family and only now realizing it was too late to see her father for the last time.
It had brought a nagging feeling pricking consistently with an echoing question: Was she living as she wanted? She recognized that at times she felt lonely, out-of-place amidst a sea of cocaine, Quaalude, and alcohol. What had once excited her about the cutthroat tone of the corporate world now left her cold and empty. An emptiness she tried to hide with copious amounts of drugs but instead of filling her emptiness it merely pushed it away and every time she was not stoned or drunk was a time when it came back harder and more terrifying than the last. She was losing her spark and drive. The superiors had noticed and she knew it as well. She knew who she could have asked help from. The one man who could have helped her out the sinking ship of her life before she drowned in her own self-destructive tendencies. But he was dead, she missed a man she hadn't spoken to in a year, she had lost her saving grace, her hero to help her to get away from it all. Now there was only herself, and perhaps she was strong enough to conquer her adversity and feeling of emptiness. Perhaps she could find strength in the remaining members of her family. She could live well seven lifetimes over, so money would never be a problem. But lost people can only find their way with a light and to the youngest child, she felt that light had gone. It was extinguished before she had realized her need for it. For all her bluster and self-assured personality she was slowly drowning in the void of her own mind.