Miranda made no sounds as he sat down on a mostly smooth rock facing the river. The moss and patches of dirt dotting the rock threatened to smudge the delicate fabric of the dress he had worn to the funeral, but that was the least of his concerns as he released a sigh.
Lainey took a seat on the ground. Her blue jeans were a bit more durable, so she had no qualms about lowering herself onto the spongy ground. A rain had come in the previous night, gently watering the flowers making up the property’s gardens.
The least Miranda could do was spread his ashes in the bunches that he was authorized to. Maybe Anders could never walk among the paths of the property, which Miranda thought that he would have loved to, but he could be part of the flowers instead.
“Miranda?” Lainey whispered, not saying anything more so that she wouldn’t irritate the withdrawn androgyne a few feet from her.
“I don’t want to talk right now.”
Seeing Miranda’s eyes fixed on the river, a once good posture hunched over in contemplation, Lainey cast her eyes to the waters. Every few minutes, a leaf would fall off of one of the bordering trees on the other side and was quickly swept away. Autumn was swiftly approaching, but it would be a while before the deluge of dead leaves clogged the surface.
And with autumn would come children going to school, warm cozy clothes coming out of closets, and nostalgic feelings running rampant through the air. But now was not the time for acknowledging such pleasantries.
It had only been about a day since Anders’ death was confirmed, and Miranda’s sense of time had simultaneously sped up and slowed down. On one hand, the hasty preparations for the funeral had been in such a rush as to blue his recollections of it- why hurry so much? Anders was dead, and that wouldn’t miraculously change if the body was kept around for a few days while proper arrangements were made.
But without Anders, there was no motivation for him to stay around and contribute to the Institute, so he isolated himself in the private suite as much as he could and tried not to think about what lost memories each stain and splotch in the room could be attributed to.
Miranda, without diverting his attention from the river, began tracing the designs on his dress with the hand not propping his head up. The swirls had been hand-stitched by his would-be mother-in-law with the intention that they would be worn by his future wife, assuming that Anders was even attracted to women. The farther down the skirt the delicate stitches went, the looser they would be, but the ones Miranda’s fingertips were traveling over were still tight.
Maybe if I had resisted LaJean, Anders would still be alive right now, and today would be just another lazy day spent at home.
Miranda, it’s not your fault.
Miranda’s gaze shifted to the sky, gray and overcast with clouds that were beginning to darken in the distance. A flock of birds passed by overhead, undoubtedly heading south for the winter even though they were going east.
Surely they’ll find their way eventually.
But what about you, Miranda? Where are you going to go now?