the night we met - lord huron
i know a place (acoustic) - MUNA
till i fall asleep - jayme dee
[content warnings: death mention, grief, implied homophobia]
Florence wept. In an unfamiliar bedroom, surrounded by all too familiar scents. The rain pounded the window, an endless reminder that the world keeps turning, even after lives are upended and imploded. Her head hurt. Approaching footsteps caused her to turn. Her eyes pointedly swept past the frame on the windowsill.
“They’re waiting for you.”
Florence took in her brother’s appearance. He’d clearly been crying, same as her. But what caught her attention wasn’t the puffiness of his eyes. Caleb had a bright red mark on his cheek, as if someone had slapped him with a notable amount of force. Her brother was too much of a decent guy to warrant that.
“What happened to you?” Her voice was gravelly from disuse.
“Everyone grieves differently,” was all he responded. Caleb didn’t give her a chance to question more. He backed out of the room and swiftly closed the door behind him. Florence stared at the peeling paint. She felt empty. No part of her wanted to go back downstairs to the crowded living room, with its tables piled high with casseroles and suffocating choruses of well wishes. But if she were ever to make it out of this expensive, unfamiliar house, she’d need to face the firing squad.
Keeping her eyes on the door, Florence pushed herself to her feet. She wiped her face best she could manage, and swallowed a few times to alleviate the dryness in her mouth. Her head hurt. Her heart hurt.
Caleb was right. They were waiting for her. More than one head turned as she passed, their eyes tracking her path through the center of the room. She’d made a reputation for herself among these people. The woman in charge awaited her approach.
“If you are prepared, we’ll say our goodbyes,” the woman stated. Her inflection was flat, an empty shell of the hurricane Florence was accustomed to braving when conversing with her late girlfriend’s mother.
Florence nodded. She did not trust herself to speak.
“Laurence.” Cynthia Copeland guided her husband into their conversation by a gentle hand on his elbow. “Ms. Helme is leaving.”
The man in question scanned the room before his eyes finally landed on Florence, stood directly in his line of sight. The pair had always been awful at seeing what was right in front of them.
“Ah, Flora, it was nice meeting you. And your husband, wherever he’s off to. Sorry about that nasty business with my sister. She can get a little excited,” Laurence leaned in as if sharing a secret. “You know how it is.”
Florence did not know how it was. She exerted great effort not to bristle at literally everything Laurence said. Her name he most likely intentionally got wrong, the assumption that Caleb was her husband because they never did accept the truth, whatever he meant by mentioning his sister. Probably had to do with the slap Caleb received. She smiled tightly in response. She doubted it looked even remotely genuine, but she didn’t care.
“Goodbye, now,” Cynthia waved her off with an equally curt smile. "I don't expect we'll be seeing each other again."
Florence nodded once. She turned and walked away, and hoped to god she never had to interact with Cynthia and Laurence Copeland ever again. Her head hurt.