Grade: 12th grade
Age: 17

Memento Mori

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Emiliano was buried on a sunny day. The sun was peeking over some clouds as if to ask permission to be present, birds were chirping and singing as if to welcome Emiliano to his afterlife.
Victor considered it fitting for the boy’s personality.
Emiliano had never failed to bring a smile to anyone’s face. Even James Klayer, the most stoic of the family, had become close to the half-italian latino.
Victor sat in the back, away from the family, his eyes bagged and general paleness accentuated by the healing bruises left from the day Emiliano died. His eyes were vacant, his thoughts replaying the moments from when he woke up and the security footage of how hard Emiliano fought. He had lasted only a couple of seconds against the dark haired man with wild eyes, but the terror was apparent on his face.
Victor buried his head in his arms, trembling with anger and self loathing. The images would not stop invading every crevice within his mind.
Emiliano’s grandmother looked at him coldly, not yet ready to forgive him. She wished to slap the handsome man who was the last one with her nipote. He should have died instead she thought. However, she could not hold that ill will for long. He was already suffering enough. With that thought, she turned her head to the front.
Eldwin stood outside the door, fingering the rosary that Emiliano left at his apartment. He inhaled deeply and opened the door timidly.
“Mijo! Siditi!” Emiliano’s mother lead him to the front of the room. She placed him next to the portrait that the Klayer family- Eldwin’s uncle and cousins- had commissioned of Emiliano. She placed an orange chrysanthemum in his palm, her other hand on his shoulder.
“For you to give your best friend.” She spoke softly. “You are always welcome, mijo.” She walked away.
The music for Emiliano’s service began to play. Eldwin noted that the first instrumental piece was one that Emiliano would always play when he hooked his phone up to Eldwin’s car’s bluetooth.
Memento Mori. Eldwin inhaled sharply, his heart beginning to palpate and a strange pain tugging through his stomach. This was all wrong.
Eldwin could not look at the portrait. He stared at the red rosary wrapped around his hand throughout the whole service. He did not catch any of what was said, too exhausted to listen to the obituary.
Soon it was time for the casket to be transported. Emiliano’s cousins were the ones to carry it out.
Everyone filed out of the church, stopping before the six-foot hole where Emiliano would be laid to rest for eternity.
Victor watched Eldwin from a little bit away, noticing he was surrounded by the dead’s family continuously. There was never an opening to approach him.
A prayer was held over the grave and the family said their goodbyes to Emiliano. Eldwin waited until it was only the casket and the man assigned to bury it left.
“May I have a moment with him?”
The man nodded, averting his eyes and walking away for a bit to give them privacy.
Eldwin closed his eyes and stepped up to the casket. He inhaled slowly and looked down, opening his eyes. This was the first time he would see Emiliano dead and the last time he would ever see his friend.
A tear ran down Eldwin’s face.”Emiliano… I should have been there to help you. This is the worst thing I think that could have happened between us.” He rubbed the rosary, pensive. “I have so much I wish we could have talked about, so many conversations I wish we could have had.”
Eldwin gazed at the sleeping face of Emiliano, his tan skin paler than before, his hair preciously swept to the side. Eldwin had never seen him in a suit. He had hoped to, of course, but just not like this. This, this was so much worse.
“I’m so sorry, old friend.” Although Emiliano was only nineteen, Eldwin held a deep regard for him that felt like it was centuries in the making. All of this was done in one moment. He would never be back. And this pained Eldwin the most.
He bent over, kissing Emiliano on the forehead, and laying the well-worn rosary in Emiliano’s hand.
“I will remember you forever.”
Eldwin began to walk away, placing the orange flower upon the top of the tombstone.
A quiet voice spoke. “Please do not blame yourself, Elly.”
A lump rose in Eldwin’s throat. He stopped in front of a sepulchre. “I do not want to talk to you right now, Victor.”
A part of Eldwin wished it had been Emiliano’s voice instead, but he was gone and Eldwin was still alive. There was nothing he could do to change that.
Victor emerged from the shadows of the sepulchre. “Elly-”
“I need no explanation, Victor. You don’t remember what happened, but he is dead and you are not. We all saw the video from the station.”
Victor hung his head, his eyes dull and emotionless. The only way Eldwin could tell the man was upset was by his slumped shoulders and lack of enthusiasm.
He hesitated. “I- I wish I could go back, Elly. I really do. I wish I had stopped it.”
Elswin barked out a harsh laugh. “That does us no good now, does it?” He turned and looked Victor in the eyes. “I’m going now. Do not follow me.”
Victor reached for Eldwin. “Shawn-”
Eldwin whipped around, eyes livid. “Do not call me by that name.”
Victory shrunk. “I’m sorry- I just thought…”
“You thought what?” Tears ran down Eldwin’s face. “Just because we’re brothers now doesn’t mean that I’ll forgive you!” He sniffled and sprinted through the graveyard, leaving Victor behind.
Victor walked back to Emiliano’s casket.
“I’m so sorry.” He felt his voice shake. “You were like my son.”
He began to walk away, rubbing the tombstone as he passed. He would be back soon.

One thought on “Memento Mori

  1. “Memento Mori” establishes its tone early-on and sticks to it. However, despite the fact that all of these characters are grieving, the writer
    manages to make each of their experiences unique. As we see in the story, grief can be colored by other emotions like guilt, resentment, and shame. It can also serve as a catalyst for other previously hidden conflicts. “Memento Mori” makes use of these qualities in an interesting and vivid way; given a little more clarity, it could’ve easily been a 4.

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