What is tragedy? Corine sat in the third row and turned her head to Hero who was two seats down. There was an ocean between them. Hero’s eyes burned as grief crawled up her neck in red splotches that itched like a wool turtleneck and slid down her spine like sweat in august, settling finally in her gut, sick with rage. Yet she didn’t produce a tear. Hero’s eyes met Corine’s and offered a stale smile of comfort returned by rolling tears down Corine’s already raw red face. Hero returned her focus to the front with a deep breath and a light clearing of her throat. It had to be open casket. Janice finished singing and sat down…It was now time, they were told, to say their goodbyes. Chase, who was on Hero’s left stood up first and plain faced offered his hand and helped her. Hand in hand they walked up to the front of the room to say good bye. Hero hadn’t seen him yet and when her face met that of her dead friend she first furrowed her eyebrows and then buried her eyes in Chase, whose squeezed her arm tightly. Eventually she turned back her softened face, her breathing audible as broken exhales. She reached down and stroked his cold forehead as others gathered around the casket. Corine hesitated at the edge of the room, filled with something, she couldn’t be sure, but she thought it must be fear. “Fear of what?” Taylor asked “it’s not the dead ones you have to look out for it’s the ‘live ones.” She looked up at him with open mouthed horror, “he’s dead Cora” He grabbed her with his whole body and held her tight as she sobbed “He was a good kid, he was a good kid” was all she could say with her mouth full of the shoulder of his shirt. “Yeah, he was a good kid” he reassured, the embrace now broken he looked her in the eyes “do you want to go see him?” “no.” She said…”Yes” she corrected, Taylor nodded and lead her over. Corine slowed her breathing and prepared herself for the coming moments. Ever muscle taut as they approached the light pine wood casket. She looked in, starting her eyes at his feet, he was wearing the grey suit, the one her wore to prom just the year before. As her eyes moved up his body to his hands she squeezed Taylor’s grasp…His hands…those hands…Jordan’s hands…they still looked like his, like Jordan may have left for good leaving only himself in his knuckles. They were stiff with rigor mortise and unnaturally folded together but they still looked like Jordan. Here on his hands she stopped her moving eyes and stayed, she took a deep breath, it was definitely fear that was stopping her from moving her eyes. Then she did, she had to. She took a breath and layed her eyes on Jordan’s face: Grayish green. Lips ripped and coated over with dried blood, sunken eyes that had been forced closed now relaxed slightly open, a slit of white showing between each lid. This was reality, this was death with no sugar coating, no smoothing over, nothing gentle, no easing into it; the true rude unromantic reality of death. He was dead and a part of everyone in the room was too. Corine had seen death before but not like this. She had seen easy death, expected death, death that was a breath of relief to the old and boney who met death with open arms, crawled into bed with it and gracefully sank into a deep slumber arm in arm with the reaper. This death was uncouth, dirty; it snuck up on you and smacked you in the face without telling you why, this was a demise of impact that shook the earth, ripped up the front lawn grass, death that ripped life away with a jerk, like tarring a thread from a tapestry. That crude unfeeling despair that is only understood as a tragedy.