They made Her sit on the floor on a dirty carpet in the middle of the room, draped around her shoulders was a checkered blanket with tassels at the end, the one reserved for mourning and shame. They sat in 2 semi circles, one half her family, one half his family and all of them justified in their judgement by their fear, playing God.
He sat in middle of his half circle, directly across from Her. Her eyes fixed on his but his eyes darted everywhere. His face struggled to form emotion. The men in his family wooed his anger but he wasn’t angry, he couldn’t be, not with her. He knew she would never say it was him, she had seen the coward within, and that killed him. They were a couple yet, “Do you know this girl?”, they asked him. He didn’t answer. The dead never do.
Besides Him sat His Mother. Solemn. Quiet. Lost. Hands on her lap. A dry tissue. Not once did his mother stop staring at her. Not once did she look away. Not for a moment did she forget. Not once did she forgive herself. No once did she let the years gone by leak out of her eyes. Not once did his mother stop staring at the girl in the mirror sitting in the center of the circle.
The center of the circle had become warm. She sat on her side, leaning on her left arm. Just behind her was her Uncle. Her Uncle, he knew why his mother could not cry. He knew his mother well. After all, he was uncle, the man who looked like Him.
His older cousin was there. The one who once came to her house when she was alone. I’m just visiting, he said. I’ve alway liked you, he said. Maybe me and you, he said. Give a chance, he said. Don’t make me force you he said. Shut up, he said. Stop screaming, he said. Never tell, he said. Yes, that cousin. He was there. He said nothing now.
Her father was directly behind her. On the corner of a couch looking out the window. Her father was a strong man, he was in a red cape, her hero. Held her so tight and loved too much. He lived on her smile and fed on her laughter. Now, on the corner of the couch sat someone else. You see, it was in his blood. It took him. No one but him and her mother knew where it came from. Now, looking out the window, that was a memory of a man.
Her mother knew where it came from. The thing in her father’s blood. Yes, her mother knew. But her mother was not there. She was a now a wound on her father’s heart and name and a date etched on to a stone.
In the silence of the circle. She got up. She took the blanket off. Folded it neatly. She laid it down in the center of the circle. She turned around and walked out. No one stopped her. Not a single one said anything. There was nothing to say. It was with this secret that would she would raise this child. The pain would make it easier.