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I barely recognize the little old man, neat and trim, lying there in front of me. His hair is finely cut, his tie in a fancy knot, his hands folded across his chest just so.

It is the hint of a smile that throws me. His lips turned up every so slightly at the ends, ever frozen, almost happy. You see I never saw him smile when he was breathing.

His hands look almost delicate, the nails filed to perfection, tips white, beds a fading pinkish gray. These hands could never have formed the solid fist I remember.

He looks so peaceful lying there. His appearance belies the journey ahead of him. This man who lies so dapperly clad could be leaving on a business trip, going to a meeting of the deacons, visiting the sick. Am I the only one that knows he has gone on to Hell?

“He looks just like his self,” I heard someone remark. I wanted to ask, “Who are you remembering?”

He holds a power over me even in death. I stand like a soldier over his coffin-- Greeting his friends, representing the family, not embarrassing him.

As we all say goodbye, know one will ever know how much I hated him.

© Cheryl Hall-Russell