Apr 24, 2012


Hank asked for a regular funeral. He wanted his body cast into the sea, just like his crew members would be if they died. He could not have this funeral though. Hank's body was somewhere in Boston. Sitting on the deck of the S.S. Holdsworth was an empty, closed casket. Lena wanted to believe that he was inside, that perhaps she could look at him again, but she could not. Even if she could, the bullet split Hank's skull and what remained was a gory, disgusting mess.

It had been three days since they returned to the Holdsworth without her captain. Things had quieted down, but there was still an air of uneasiness. At Liam's command, the ship sailed back towards Lisbon. The city, hopefully, would still be free of Steelewood. But that did not matter at the moment. What mattered was the funeral.

Lena surrendered command of the Holdsworth to her son, at least temporarily. Out of grief, she could not think straight and was not confident in her decisions. She also did not want or need the pressure. She could not take it. Both she and Liam were to say words to the crew at the funeral. Lena was to do so as Hank's closet of kin, Liam as ship's captain. Lena, however, declined. Liam asked her once if she wanted to do it and she said no. Not a soul asked her again or asked her why.

She would, however, still play a hymn just as Hank asked in his letter. Choosing the right one proved to be a challenge, but Lena picked, “How Deep the Father's Love for Us.” Its themes of sacrifice and redemption felt appropriate along with the somber, yet hopeful mood. She played with Emma harmonizing beside her. The first notes came naturally and well. But as she kept up the simple melody, her notes gradually fell from tune. At first, it was nothing that the common ear would notice. Lena heard though. Liam and Emma both perceived the subtle stray from intonation. And the further into the song she went, the further out of tune her fingers played. In her pain, she simply could not place her fingers where they needed to be. In violin playing, being slightly out of place meant being out of tune. Lena knew this and she knew that she played imperfectly. Even her timing came sluggish at points, but rapid at others. And it pained her to know that she played a song for her passed husband with anything less than perfection. But she played her best and she pressed on. Hank wanted them all to press on and never to give up. So it was with Lena and her violin.

When she the music stopped, she rest her instrument into its case and silence prevailed. She stared down to the floor into nothing, eyes filling. All of the crew looked to her, but she returned them not a sound or glance. In her mind, they all heard the disaster of her playing. They all stood before her judging. But really, a bare few of them knew the difference. A ship's raggy crew was not a place to find those with acute ears for music. Above the intonation, they appreciated the sentiment. That song itself, while gorgeous and eloquent, did not matter so much as its symbolism. Lena did not feel this. She felt afraid.

Such fear relented when Emma's gentle, yet firm hand came over Lena's shoulder. Emma squeezed lightly, to assure her mother that she was there. Emma knew of Lena's mistakes in playing, but did not care. She wanted to be there for her mother. She wanted to make the pain go away. This was not a problem Emma knew how to fix. Emma preferred to face issues head on with a gun, but pain and grief, especially in others, rested on a higher level. Her hand met her mother's shoulder because it was the closest she could come to beating the problem senseless. In a perfect world, the solace of her touch healed instantly. In this world, healing takes far more time than Emma could stand.

Lena took a raspy breath and then quickly turned to hug her daughter. She came right out of her seat and stood there embracing Emma. The move surprised everyone there, particularly Emma, but she took it in stride and held her mother close. Together, they cried.

Lena let her daughter go and, without looking at her, stood up and briskly made her way to the bridge tower. She kept her hand over her mouth to try and contain her sobs and maybe her pain. She pulled open the iron door and stepped inside to the empty hallway. Without closing the door behind her, she fell against the wall and sat. Her thoughts refused to sit still. Each time something new came up, she did not want to face it. Hank returned to her mind to be there with her, but she did not want him. Hank was dead and could do nothing to hold her hand and comfort. She wanted to accept it. She had to accept, but there was nothing to be done about her shaking conscious. The world, the dangerous world, quaked around her and Lena had nothing with which to face it.

Almost nothing.

Liam and Emma both stood in the doorway. Lena looked up to see them, concerned looks in their eyes. Liam knelt beside her and put a firm hand on her shoulder. Lena put her hand on his. Her thoughts stilled themselves in her son's grasp. She closed her eyes. His hand was almost a spitting image of her husband's. In Liam, she saw the very best of Hank, especially his strength, but also his control. Emma stood behind Liam. In Emma, she saw the side of Hank that would win this. She saw his resolve, but also his unrelenting spirit. With these two, Lena knew she could face the world, but she wouldn't have to. Liam and Emma would take it on in her place. 

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