“That is the ugliest sweater I have ever seen.”
“Why would you say that?”
“Look at it!”
“I know! We know it’s ugly and we know that you know it’s ugly! But it’s the sweater our dad wanted to be buried in so shut-up!” The brothers fell silent as their eyes fell back onto the old man in the coffin.
“Well, if he’s going to wear it it should at least be close-casket.”
“Richard. Shut-up. Okay?”
“Why? Because our father is dead. Show some goddamn respect!”
“I am showing respect. Just not for that damn sweater.”
Damien sighed. “Look, after the funeral tomorrow you can go and we won’t have to see each other ever again. But until then let’s just pretend we’re a normal, friendly fucking family?”
“There’s that why bullshit again.”
“Why bother pretending? Who cares? Everyone knows how messed-up we all are. I just don’t see the point in facades.”
Damien’s face reddened and his hand curled into a fist. Richard saw this and inched backward, but nothing happened. Damien’s hand softened and he breathed out. “I…I don’t…” But Damien just shook his head and walked out, leaving Richard alone with the old man.
Richard peered back into the coffin, his mind immediately scanning the threads of the ugly beige sweater. Their father never told them about the sweater. What it meant. All they knew was from their mother who had told them that it was passed-down to their father from his father. Now it was going to be buried deep into the earth. Never seen again. Richard wondered why their father didn’t leave them the sweater, or anything else of value. But then he quickly remembered and felt silly. Richard wasn’t the sentimental type anyway.
A few moments later Richard stepped outside of the funeral home and saw Damien sitting on the curb nearby, smoking a cigarette. He was tempted to say something to his baby brother, but what? And even if he knew, it was too late. Richard shrugged and drove back to the hotel where he watched football and slipped off to sleep.
Written for First Line Friday.