The coffin was heavy

The coffin was heavy and carried on shoulders, the men’s arms linked at the elbow. Their faces shone with sweat. At the door of the church they had to jostle their way though the onlookers and their umbrellas. It had started to rain again. The family followed, their faces streaked wet. The church had been full.

The rain was fine and persistent. People looked down the road as it curved round behind the town wall and disappeared towards the cemetery. A few women decided then not to go on, they turned left or right and into their houses, shaking their umbrellas and loosening their scarves. They closed the shutter doors behind them.

The procession disappeared into the distance as the single bell tolled, its echoes rolling along the narrow streets of closed shutters. Later, the smell of the rain on the dust still strong, the town would begin to breathe again and the people of the procession would return as individuals or pairs, freed from the magnetics of the dead.

They would drink coffee and tell quiet stories until the clouds cleared, as they inevitably would.


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