The fog was thick that morning as Lana made her way to the church. It began as a slight haze but slowly thickened as the moments ticked by, gradually dimming the rising sun. It was strange, she thought, nearing the church, usually fog dissipated when the sun gained strength. But today was an unusual day in itself. A day for goodbyes, for moving on, for letting go.
Everyone was already in the church when she reached the doors but, unlike every other day, she knew her mother wouldn’t chide her for being late, not today. Even the last time they’d talked, she’d pleaded with her only daughter to just be on time for once in her life. Today though, Lana wanted to be late. She wanted to slow down. But there was no delaying the inevitable.
When she entered the church, the fog seemed to creep in behind her, rolling across the marble floor, pawing at her feet like a kitten.
The vestibule was empty and organ music was already pushing its way out into the hall. She noticed, before joining the mourners in the sanctuary, that the mirror on the wall beside her was covered with a sheet. A Welsh death tradition her family still honored when a loved one passed.
She made her way down the center aisle, eyeing the pews filled with friends, family, neighbors…but she didn’t pause her progress toward the open casket. A small favor, she’d heard her mother say just after the accident, that we can see her beautiful face one more time.
Her mother sat in the front row, quietly sobbing into her handkerchief. The same one she’d tried to give Lana on her eighteenth birthday but she’d refused because who used handkerchiefs anymore? She also wore pearls, because, she said, every woman should own a nice pair of pearls. More than likely, she smelled like lavender, but Lana’s senses were already too dull to know for sure. The rest of the church, all the mourners, were enveloped by the fog that had followed her down the aisle. She didn’t have much time.
“I told her not to be late,” her mother whispered to her aunt through her tears. “She was rushing because of me.”
“It’s okay, Mom.” Lana tried to speak but the fog stole her voice. “It’s not your fault.” She tried to reach out to her mother, but the black dress faded, the bright pearls dulled, the handkerchief disappeared.
“Mom…” Lana whispered. The words came out as a breeze and tickled her mother’s hair. The older woman gasped and then the fog pulled her away. All that was left was goodbye.