You watch as your father’s murderer incinerates on a pyre, and you wonder to yourself why it feels as though you are the dead one.
You watch until he is nothing but ashes and smoke, and there is no gratification to be reaped. You don’t feel better – you don’t actually feel anything.
It’s a hollow victory.
/ / /
“Is this what it always feels like?” The question slips out in the dead of night before you can stop it, your voice low and ashamed, like an admission of guilt. But at first, all you hear is the slow, steady sound of his breathing, and a hefty sigh of relief escapes your lips. You’re mortified to be unraveling like this, even around him. It’s best that he’s probably asleep; he shouldn’t have to see you this way.
“I won’t lie to you. What you’re feeling, that guilt eating away at you – it won’t go away.” he finally says, turning to look at you, to brush some stray hairs out of your eyes. “Not until you deal with the grief you’ve been trying to smother.”
He murdered Dad, and he murdered countless more, you remind yourself. “I don’t feel any guilt.” you insist with as much conviction as you can muster. He pleaded with you to spare him, to show you compassion, you remember, his screams echoing in the chambers of your mind. You clench your eyes shut. “I – I don’t regret killing him. But I regret killing myself in the process.”