Kybelle’s funeral had begun, and Algernon was nowhere to be found.
Carissa stood next to Elon as a few of the men carried Kybelle’s wrapped body towards her grave—a gaping hole in the ground. For all the grief the caravan members had put them through, at least they’d seen to the funeral preparations. They’d replaced the strips of Algernon’s shirt with a finely woven red blanket and had spent all morning digging a hole deep enough to bury her.
The crowd formed a path for the men, allowing them to pass through. The men began to pass Carissa, and a putrid smell wafted her way—the smell of death.
She stepped forward and tugged on one of the men’s sleeves. “Wait.”
The men carrying Kybelle paused, and one spoke, “We should bury it. The body is beginning to stink—”
“I know. I’ll only be a moment.” Carissa rounded the men until she stood by Kybelle’s head.
It was still hard to believe that this was Kybelle—that her she’d been walking and breathing yesterday and was decaying today.
Carissa swallowed tightly and began to fold the rug back. She’d never gotten to say goodbye to Kybelle. Her last words to her had been to her to pass the flask of water. If only she’d known that was the last thing she’d say to her.
But that was the thing about endings: you never knew quite when they were going to come.
You could never know when you’d speak your last words to someone, when you’d share your last embrace with them, when you’d last see them. Everyone was given a last opportunity to say goodbye to their loved ones, and yet none could recognize that opportunity when it came.
No one could ever be prepared for death, yet death was the only guarantee one had in life.