Chapter 15 : A Paper Person
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WARNINGS: triggers of grief and a funeral.
A Paper Person
The funeral was quiet. Her parents hugged me, like I was their dead daughter, but I wasn’t. I could never be her.
“Elizabeth was best known for her kindness-“
The flaw that killed her. It made me her friend.
The flaw that killed her. It made her love the superhero.
The flaw that killed her. It made her jump in front of me.
“-and her ability to love.”
The flaw that let her be happy when she lived.
It was strange, I thought, how there were so many people there that saw her once or twice a year at most, but I didn’t care too much. The service had been full of people who had loved her, and that’s what mattered. I think it helped her parents, too- to see how beautiful and wonderful the world knew she was.
The song that hummed as we left I’d recommended- she’d always told me how much she loved it- and when it came on, I sank to the floor, and started sobbing. I couldn’t stand, or walk, or get out. I cried until I threw up, then I cried more, and Cute Guy held me the whole time, told me his name was Luke, she told him all about me. I told him, through the contraction of my throat and the pain that tore through my every word, how much she’d talked about him before she’d even spoken to him.
I’d watched him cry during. He talked to her parents after he’d helped me, introduced himself, talked about her, told them how much he loved their daughter and he was so glad he’d managed to gather the courage to tell her so.
She’d loved him too.
Her mother sank to her knees, but her dad helped her up when they lowered the casket into the ground with the roses they thought she’d like. They had decided to give their baby a grave. I put my flowers on the top, too, with the note I’d written in the morning because I had realized I’d missed some important stuff in my letter.
When I got back to the flat, I found her laptop and skimmed through the messages that had been left. I wanted her to see them, and I knew they needed to be seen, so eventually I forwarded them to her parents. In the end, she was the one who did the right thing, and deserved the recognition, and she was the one who should have lived.
A Note From the Author:
I wrote my story down four months after Elizabeth’s funeral. This version is still jagged with the pain and anger and regret I felt then, but I think changing it in any way would be disrespectful to both Elizabeth and myself. However, at the time I did leave out quite a few important details. Largely to make myself seem better than I am, I think.
I didn’t go to the reception when the funeral had finished. Instead, I sat in the graveyard and called my father on my mobile phone. I said a lot to him. A lot of awful things, really, but I meant them and I daresay I’d still say them now; he wronged me in a lot of ways, and I can see that he didn’t mean to hurt me with it but I don’t think I can ever forgive him. I then wrote a letter to my mother, also saying a lot of strong things- but again, I don’t think I would change it given the chance. I’m not sure my mother ever got me letter because she never replied, and I haven’t heard from either of them since.
Six days after the funeral, I found a Healer’s training course in London. It was a fast-track for only the best, and I did well enough to be practicing six months later. I packed up the flat soon after. Her parents offered to buy it and put in my name, because they could and they needed someone to look after, but I couldn’t let them. I found somewhere small, close to work. Living alone in a magical community gave me the space to practice and perfect every single detail of Healing; wand strokes and potion-making, incantations and muggle remedies, too. I read every book and studied all the cases I could find. When it came to practicing on real people, my hands weren’t shaking. I could save that person; it was doable. I couldn’t put the blood back in the person, but I could keep it in.
I never accepted promotion opportunities, and I became the longest-practicing Healer that St. Mungo’s had ever seen. Whenever I lost someone, I always told the loved ones myself. I held them while they cried and went home and practiced until I was better. It was not an easy job and I suffered a great deal, but I can honestly say I don’t regret a moment of it.
I kept in touch with Elizabeth’s parents, and I see them regularly- I owe them that- and I still exchange Christmas cards with Luke. He married seven years after, and he has been mostly happy, which is all I could ask for.
In case you are wondering, reader, there are many reasons I have finally let the world know who I am.
The first is that it is a secret I have held far too long- the security of my job and the respect of the people in my life I would have lost should anyone have know. Vanity, largely, I suppose.
The second is Elizabeth.
The third is that I don’t want my life to have been entirely destructive. After Elizabeth, I never made another appearance as the ‘superhero’ because I simply couldn’t face it. At the time, of course I felt as though everything was the fault of the ministry and the blame was not mine to shoulder- perspective has remedied that. Should I have understood my own flaws, and valued my life over my fame, it is easy to see that Elizabeth would have lived. I convinced myself I was doing the right thing for the greater good, but I was not. I was doing it for myself and the attention, for the attention of thousands who only fleetingly cared for me, when I should have realised it is not the quantity of the attention you receive that matters. In Elizabeth I had a best friend- I never found anyone as sweet-hearted and kind as her in all these years since- and I am only sharing this with you, reader, because I want you to understand you should give your heart to someone who loves you as much as you love them; to someone who would die for you. Give it to the Elizabeth of your life, reader. If they give you theirs in return, protect it.
The fourth reason is that I used to wish myself dead, instead of Elizabeth. I don’t anymore, because I can’t change what happened. Instead, I look to helping others in the way I know she would have done.
This leads me to my fifth and final reason- I have finally understood what Elizabeth seemed to simply know the whole time, something that has taken me years of trying to even entertain as a possibility. I thought I was a flimsy paper person with a flimsy paper life.
In truth, my life hadn’t been flimsy or paper at all; the people in it had made sure of that.
A/N I hope you enjoyed this.
Thanks to my lovely reviewers: Lady of Tears; theblacksisters; The Empress; My Name Does Not Matter; triedandtrue; and EllaShanti. Your support has helped me as a writer and an editor, so you’ve been invaluable. I’d also like to thank the consistent support I’ve had from my lovely favourite story-ers: allthistime; bigpotterfan; EllaShanti; and theblacksisters-
<3 don’t forget to be awesome, lovely readers.
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