Smile and Nod

by Gabe Saad, age 13
Smile and Nod Gabe is a 13-year-old student who lives in Washington, D.C. He enjoys reading, writing, dancing, and more. His cats are very adorable.

“Two days after Georgie and his mother arrived was the day of the funeral. They had been the first ones there, and the bright sun and cloudless sky were starkly different to the midnight black suit that Georgie was wearing and the black lace that adorned his mother’s even darker dress. Guests had trickled in after he and his mother had arrived, their faces somber.
Then came the casket.”

Georgie’s friend Elliott’s mom, Clarice, opened the door of their large, pastel-blue house and waved at Georgie. She was still in her robe, and her hair was piled on top of her head in a messy bun. She looked as if she had just gotten out of bed. She was on the phone, so she pulled it away from her ear slightly and whispered to Georgie,

“Elliott’s in the basement.”

He smiled and nodded, something his mother had taught him to do at his dad’s funeral. Many of the guests were people Georgie didn’t know, so to avoid calling them by the wrong name, he just nodded and smiled sadly. The funeral had been seared into Georgie’s memory, the colors and sounds as vivid as a movie.

The funeral was located in a small town in southern Italy. Georgie’s father had always talked about it – he described it as the most magical place in the world. Georgie’s mother believed it would be where he wanted his funeral to take place. It was also the first time Georgie had been out of the USA. The plane ride had gone by in a blur of sleeping and crying and leaning into his mother’s sleeves which were stained with salty tears. When they arrived in Naples, the taxi ride to the funeral location consisted of mostly the same things as the plane ride, although Georgie distinctly remembered his mom screaming and ripping out grass on the side of the road at one point.

When he and his mother finally arrived at the hotel, his mom had crept into the bed and didn’t get out of it for the entire next day. Georgie felt obliged to stay and watch over her, so he missed out on viewing the beautiful countryside of southern Italy. He had snatched glances at it on the way to the hotel. It truly seemed magical, just like his father had always said. The ocean was bright blue. The rolling hills shone a vibrant green and the cliffs of clay houses reminded Georgie of something from a fairytale. It seemed like a dream compared to the bleak colors of Kansas City and the poverty stricken streets of his neighborhood.

Two days after Georgie and his mother arrived was the day of the funeral. They had been the first ones there, and the bright sun and cloudless sky were starkly different to the midnight black suit that Georgie was wearing and the black lace that adorned his mother’s even darker dress. Guests had trickled in after he and his mother had arrived, their faces somber. 

Then came the casket.

As the dark brown coffin was carried in by his father’s two eldest brothers, a wave of strange anger came over Georgie. How could his father have betrayed him and his mother? he wondered. His eyes welled up with tears and they spilled out in waterfalls of sadness. He gasped for the air that seemed like it was avoiding him. This was the only part of the funeral that was not clear as glass. Georgie thought he remembered shrieking, the ghastly noise making some of the guests jump. He remembered clawing at his head, as if there was some sort of costume over his body and he was really all happy and cheerful underneath. His mother’s arms tried to wrap around him, but he remembers them dropping and his mother’s sobs combined with his screaming drowning out the rest of the world.

Georgie flickered back into reality and noticed that he was standing frozen in the middle of Elliott’s living room, a single tear dripping down his cheek. He wiped it away with the back of his hand and ran down to the basement. He rubbed his eyes once more before meeting up with Elliott and the rest of his friends who were seated at a round, low-to-the-ground table. Elliott was practicing a new handshake with Georgie’s other friend, Jacob, while another friend named Oliver sat at the far side of the table playing on a Nintendo Switch. Georgie tried to pull his face into a smile, despite the memories that had just resurfaced in his mind.

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