As soon as it begins to rain, I pay witness to a dozen black umbrellas snapping open in the churchyard, fanning their wings like large vultures.
I don't recognize any of the gaunt faces staring back at me as I throw a white rose onto my mother's coffin and leave my father's as barren as my love for him. They said parents were supposed to die before their children, and I thanked whatever supernatural force had taken the old bastard to the grave for the last time. My mother? An unwilling victim.
I step back as a bony priest shuffles over to the two open graves, his black robes and purple scarf speckled with bits of dead grass and mud. "Would anyone like to say a word before we honor Mr. and Mrs. Santiago?" He rasps, his heavy-lidded eyes shifting.
The vultures grumble and complain until eventually, some obscure uncle with a crooked toupe steps out and begins to sob about how good it was that my father had left this world with honor.
"A good man!" He laments, "Mateo was a good man to everyone!"
I don't stick around to hear more; my suit and dress shirt stick to my neck and armpits with all the rain pouring down in sheets over my head. I hadn't thought to bring an umbrella, and it was freezing in the churchyard, making my breath escape in tiny clouds.
"Dante, darling! Wait a second!" A voice calls as I'm passing a few large crypts with iron bars for the doors.
It takes everything in me not to keep walking.
I didn't know how much longer I could listen to the vultures apologizing for my father's fuck-ups, or how many more questions I could hear regarding my parent's estate and where all the fancy things inside that they had hoarded for the last twenty years were going to go.
"Dante!" My aunt Laura waves me down, the stout old woman clad in a lace black dress that went down to her ankles. A black shawl draped over her shoulders gave her the appearance of having thin bat wings hanging from her plump figure.
"Aren't you going to stay for the rest of the funeral?" Aunt Laura asks me when she finally catches up, "I understand this is a terrible time for you, but this is the last time that you'll see your parents, darling. Don't you want to say goodbye?"
"I don't," I reply simply, "My parents are currently in a state of decay, Aunt Laura. I said goodbye when they both decided to drive drunk to that New Year's party a few weeks ago and ended up smeared across the road like raspberry jam on a slab of toast."
Aunt Laura is horrified, raising her spotty hand to her wrinkly lips.
"Is that all you wanted to ask me?" I reply and take off my glasses to rub off some of the rain.
"Well," Aunt Laura squeaks out, "Your father and I actually spoke a few months before his death, and he warned me that you might take his money and spend it all in one go."
"What?" I demand, "Who the hell does he think I am?"
"Dante." My Aunt Laura tells me timidly, "He put aside most of the money to send you to a university. It's actually one of the most prestigious colleges in the world. In fact, he composed a packet before passing--" She begins searching through the massive purse around her wrist and mumbles to herself as she does so.
The iron bars around the cemetery all at once don't feel like they're to keep people out or bodies in. They feel like they're for me, and they're slowly closing in, growing closer and closer.
This was the start of my descent into hell itself.