Disclaimer: Not mine.
It's funny. Today's space on my calendar says 'Meeting of the Board'. I've been dreading it, actually; now I wish that was still right. But it's not. So I pick up my pen, drag a neat line through the words, and I'm about to write 'Funeral' underneath, in the same clinical script, but my hand falls back to my side.
I leave it.
Funeral homes reek of death in a way that even the morgue can't match. Plush carpets, floral-print sofas, muted wallpaper. Potpourri to cover up the the smells of formaldehyde and decay, purely imagined yet cloying. Everyone cadaverously stiff, artificially polite. But what corpse was every so uncomfortable?
A smattering of family, a few acquaintances, and House's team (as well as a few other rejected applicants) shift awkwardly around the room. Most of them guilted themselves into coming, I know, but some are truly mourning. Beneath his own carefully arranged features, Wilson looks lost and it breaks my heart. The cruelty of life is staggering and too bitterly ironic to be more than outright injustice. I remember the look on his face as he walked out of Amber's room for the last time- like a gambler who had bet too much and lost it all. I wish I could impart some comfort, but I was never the one to do that for him.
So many things shattered when that truck hit that bus. Some of them cracked immediately; others took longer to splinter and fall. I wonder how deep these fault lines run and what else will crumble into glistening shards.
The eulogy is given by someone I don't know. They asked Wilson, I know, but he must have said no. I imagine his guilt as a physical weight on his shoulders, the answer to his slumped back and bowed head. Two weeks ago, I would have gone to House if I was concerned about Wilson; now, I don't know what to do. I pull at the edges of my unused tissue. I want to leave, but I have to stay. I want to go back to my office and work out problems that I know how to fix. There is no way to organize and delegate this away, and I find myself at such a loss it's all I can do to keep from laughing at the absurdity of it all. Lisa Cuddy, administrator extrordinare, unable to lift a finger or do a single thing to help when she really needs to- how pathetic am I, that the thing I feel most right now anger at my own uselessness?
Time speeds up, slows down, skips like a scratched record until finally the casket is being lowered and I can hardly stand to look at Wilson's shattered face, because I know it has all finally sunk in for him. I wait around until everyone else is gone because I hate to leave him alone. Maybe I should let him be, I think. I don't.
"Are you okay?" I ask. Idiotic question, and my voice is surprisingly scratchy. When was the last time I said anything aloud? Talking just seems to magnify the breathless electric current pulsing through my mind.
Wilson's face tightens. "No," he says; our eyes meet and we realize we both knew the answer before I asked the question. He pauses and the plates of his face shift and tremble briefly before he catches himself and is still.
"It's my fault he's dead."
I don't say anything. I can't. He's right.
AN: Reviewers are beautiful people!