TITLE: If You Squint Really Hard
GENRE: MG Contemporary
We sat in the front pew, Mr. Bailey’s casket so close, I could almost hear him breathing. If he were alive, that is. The dress Mama had made me wear was itching the heck out of my armpits and cutting off all blood flow to my upper body. Apparently wearing a dress on Sunday wasn’t enough, I had to wear one to the funeral too. It was “out of respect,” Mama said. But what about the respect for my arms? That’s what I wanted to know. And not only a dress, but lace? It was like she didn’t know me at all.
“Mama,” I leaned over, “are my arms turning blue?” I said, wriggling and tugging at my sleeves.
She narrowed her eyes and put her finger up to her lips. “Shhh!”
I shuffled in my seat, and peeled my sweaty legs away from the shiny, wooden bench with a slurping noise. Slurp. Slurp. Slurp. Penny glared and Mama shushed me again.
“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away,” the Pastor said from the pulpit. The church filled with sniffles, and someone blew their nose so hard, for a second I thought a trumpet was playing a rendition of When the Saints Go Marching In. Why was everyone so sad? John Bailey was the oldest man I’d ever laid eyes on. Sure, he was nice and all. He was that guy who gave out root beer barrels to the kids around town. But he was old. Really, really old.