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They sat out the extra chairs in silence. It was like it was family sinking in for Travis, and herself that Mr. Chamberlin was gone. She couldn't believe it. It was kind of like she was loosing her own father in a way.
A little while later, she looked up as Travis was pulled away to help with other tasks. She simply smiled and nodded. She could handle putting out chairs herself. Her father ended up coming over and helping her, while her Mother immediately went to Mrs. Chamberlin's side.
Soon enough she was being ushered to the front of the funeral home. She didn't really understand why she and her own family where in the designated Family area, but she wasn't going to argue with Mrs. Chamberlins wishes. Her Mother and Father were to her right, while Mrs. Chamberlin and Travis were to her left, Travis right beside her.
All of it still hadn't really sunk in for the man. He could still hear his father's voice and hear the man'd laugh. Just the fact that he would never hear them again and never be able to ask for advice again had his chest hurt. Slowly was he beginning to become less numb to the denial but he had to keep strong for his momma's sake. And that was what he was going to do.
He and Cori had gotten most the chairs set out, but towards the last few Travis was pulled away. He was needed to do something else and as he was doing his other task people kept coming up to him and telling him how sorry they were. It wasn't that he did not appreciate it, but it was making the day ten times, no a hundred times harder to face. The last hand that took his shoulder was his mother's and she gave him a weak smile.
"Come on. You can finish with this later. It's time for the funeral." The woman said as she guided him inside the room and to take the seats near Cori and her family.
In all honesty, Cori couldn’t believe that Mr. Chamberlin was actually gone. It was just crazy to try and wrap her head around. It was nothing out of the usual for Mr and Mrs Chamberlin to call her every few months. Mostly to catch up, and make sure that she was doing okay. They always asked if she ever needed anything. It made her sad that she wouldn’t hear his voice anymore.
She somehow snapped out of her thoughts. She glanced down at her watch and realized the funeral was about to start. Travis had been pulled away by people wanting to speak to him, as they were about finished setting up the rest of the chairs. She just smiled and finished the task that Mrs. Chamberlin had given them. Travis was needed elsewhere, she finally understood.
She glanced up when she felt a hand on her shoulder, it was her Father. She smiled softly and went to take her seat with her parents.
Inwardly he was cursing his mother. She was still up to her old tricks, which he had kind of hoped she wouldn't be. If they had not been in the funeral home or about to do his father's funeral, Travis might have asked the woman what was going on in her head. But as it stood, it was not the time or the place for him to want to get that from his momma. So he only gave the woman a small smile and nod before she had left them to get to their assigned tasks.
[b "From what momma said..half the town will be here. I had gotten some of them set up...but we still need more.. So we better get movin'. And Cori...thanks."] He said as he moved over to where the chairs were and took a few before he began to start setting them up. They would have a long way to go.
The man still felt awkward when around her. But slowly little by little it was getting better. And he could not help but wonder what she might be feeling. Travis did want to ask, but couldn't bring himself to. And so continued with the chairs until they had one row left. [b "Think these are enough chairs?"] He asked as he stopped beside her, looking out at the many rows they had set up.
As soon as she walked into the funeral home building, her eyes scanned for the Chamberlins. She seen someone move out of the corner of her eye, she glanced up and smiled slightly when she seen that it was Travis. [b “I was going to stop and get breakfast.. But I didn’t know what anyone would want. If y’all get hungry and need anything, just let me know. Momma said she was bring more food over.”] She knew she was rambling, Funeral Homes made her so nervous.
She smiled when she seen Mrs.Chamberlin. She walked over and softly
hugged the older woman. [b “I’ll do whatever you need to me to do, ma’am. You just let me know. But yes. We can handle setting up the chairs and passing out the programs.”] she said softly. She watched the older woman walk back into the main room. [b “Shall we? I suspect we’ll need a bunch of chairs.”]
The dinner at Cori's house had been bittersweet if he was honest. The sweet part had been it almost felt like old times. Like he was among family. But the bitter part of it was the reminder that he and Cori were no longer together. Travis had been about to try and go after dinner, but her father would not hear of it. He claimed it had been too long and had all but dragged him to the sitting room and the two men talked for half an hour. Only was he able to get away by saying he had not been with his momma and he bet she was worried since he had been gone so long.
The next few days had passed like magic. Or it was more like a blurr. Travis spent most days at his momma and daddy's house as he helped his mother with the arrangements. He was also given the task to help her in packing up his daddy's things. All of it was still sinking in for Travis and he was finally coming to realize that his father was gone and was not coming back.
On the day of the funeral, the young man was up early. Much earlier than he had been in many years. Honestly he had not gotten much sleep the night before. So when his alarm went off he was up and getting dressed. He had gotten into a black slack and a white button up shirt. He actually attempted to keep his hair neat and even wore his old black cowboy hat and boots. When he was dressed, Travis met his momma downstairs and they went to the funeral home. The day was going to be long and hard.
It was probably nine o'clock when the first person had walked in. And to Travis' surprise that person happened to be Cori. A small smile came to his lips as he walked over to her. [b "I think my momma is around here somewhere. She'll be happy to see you nade it."] He said
And as the old saying goes "speak of the devil and thee sahll appear" his mother came out from the main room. A sad smile was upon the woman's lips. [i "Cori, it's so good to see you. Do you mind helping Travis get the rest of the chairs set up? And also hand programs out?"] The woman was purposely trying to have them around the other just as much as Cori's mother had the few nights before. Seemed their mothers were not over their old tricks and schemes.
The dinner with Travis was awkward, but that was no different than what she had expected. To say her Father was surprised to see Travis sitting at his kitchen table, was an understatement. She thought he was going to cry. Cori ended up helping her Mother with the dishes, while her Father all but pulled Travis into the living room to catch up. Travis ended up staying and talking about thirty minutes after dinner was over, but then he finally excused himself, as his mother was probably worried and wondering where he was.
The day of Mr. Chamberlins funeral was here, and she was dreading it. They had to be at the funeral home by noon. So she was up and getting ready. She hadn’t cried yet, and she didn’t plan on it. She wanted to be strong for Mrs. Chamberlin... and Travis. As well as her parents, she couldn’t forget them. Who was she kidding though, this day was going to be horrible for their entire town.
She picked a simple black dress, and black high heels. She curled her long blonde hair. She headed downstairs for the first time that day. [b “Goodmorning, Momma, Daddy.”] she said [b “Im going to head on over to the funeral home, see if Mrs. Chamberlin needs me to do anything..”] She huffed both of her parents before heading out and hopping in her rental car. [b “It’s going to be a rough day..”] she said to herself. The drive to the funeral home wasn’t long at all, only five minutes. She was soon there, and heading inside.
Her outfit: [pic https://i.pinimg.com/originals/7d/81/74/7d81748105d4aca8358dd1726e5e8ba5.jpg]
Travis let out a small laugh and nodded. [b "They are difficult to learn. But you're smart I know you would do just fine. Well if you had wanted to do it. Sometimes I do and then days I find it a headache."] The man said as the two of them were stood in her childhood living room.
As she spoke of the children, her smile lit up the room. It felt like it always used to and he had missed it. [b "Well at least you still see 'em. And I bet you are a great teacher. Almost wish you had been our teacher at that age. Remember Mrs. Lemon?"] Travis asked and cringed.
She then asked if he remembered all their crazy talked of leaving and never looking back. Of course he did. Thought about them often too if he were honest. [b "Yeah..we had been crazy and full of many ideas. Funny how life turns out..though I guess we took the paths we had been meant to.. Doesn't mean that I don't miss those days."]
Cori nodded as she listened closely to him. [b “I bet it was rough trying to learn all of the laws and everything. I couldn’t even begin to imagine.” She said. They were standing in the middle of her living room, well childhood living room. [b “Do you enjoy?”] she questioned.
She smiled when he asked about her students. [b “Oh of course I miss them. I go visit them a lot. Like I said, it felt like I have ten three and four year olds at times. But I love them all.”] she said.
She laughed when he mentioned their small town. [b “Oh lord. Do you remember when we talked about leaving this small town and never looking back? I often find myself missing it. Crazy how life turns out, isn’t it?”]
Travis had not expected to tell Cori that he had his diubts about practicing law. But as so mush had that evening, it too had slipped from his lips. And she had asked him about what he meant. What could he tell her? That he regretted it because it had put a wedge between them? No that would be a terrible thing to say. [b "Just there are so many laws and some walk a fine line. You have to pay extra close attention to the detail and it can be a little misleading sometimes."] Not exactly a lie, but he had definitely not told her the truth either.
[b "When your students move on and are out of your class..do you miss them? And do you remember them?"] The man found himself asking. He truly did have an interest in her work. And more than that he wanted the attention on her and not him. Always had he enjoyes listening to Cori and all she had to say.
Slowly he nodded when she giggled to his words about his momma and pa. And again it was like music to his ears. [b "I suppose you're right. But...It wouldn't have been too awkward. After all...small town and everyone knows everyone."] Travis said as he did let his eyes wander. The house did not look much different than he remembered.
Cori nodded slightly as she listened to him. [b "That's exciting."] she said. She bet he was an amazing lawyer. He was so compassionate about helping people. [b "Why don't you know if it was the right choice now?"]
Mrs. Taylor stuck her head out of the kitchen when she heard her daughter say that Travis was staying for dinner. She had to remember to call Mrs. Chamberlin later. Maybe this was their new beginning. [i "Okay, dear. It'll be ready in about fifteen minutes!"] she said.
She giggled when she heard Travis say the say about his parents. [b "When you see people so much, for so long. I guess it just becomes your normal. Daddy always said he hoped you would come visit... Or at least run into you. He just didn't want to make it awkward on us both, I guess."]
[b "I chose to go into law. It just seemed like a good idea and had been something that interested me. Though now I don't know if I chose the right major."] He said with a small smile. It wasn't that law didn't interest him, but had been the reason that they had gone their own way. Neither one nor the other had wanted to yield or to give up on their dream.
But he kept those thoughts to himself. When she began to speak about her father and what the man would think, Travis couldn't help the heat rising in his cheeks. Her father always had liked him and he had always considered the man like a second father. [b "Kind of funny that you say that. Everytime I spoke to momma and pop they would always be asking if I heard from you. You know they thought the world of you and thought of you as the daughter they never had."] He said as he followed the young woman inside.
Cori smiled and nodded. [b “I love all my students. It’s like I have ten children, ages of four and five.”] she said. She had always loved children, she always knew she wanted to work with him. [b “What about you? You said you were in Salt Lake City? What did you decide for a major?”] she questioned.
She watched him contemplate on what to do about her offer. She was surprised that she’d had came out and asked. But he loved her mommas fried chicken, and they were old friends right? Old friends could have dinner together?
[b “Daddy’s gonna be so happy that you’re here. Momma said he’ll be back in a minute. Everytime he called me, he always asked if I had heard from you.. He calls you the son he never had..”] she said as she held the front door open for him. [b Momma. Travis is staying for dinner!”]
As he heard her answer, Travis smiled. As long as he remebered that had been what she had wanted to become and he had to admit he was proud of her for following her dream. [b "I bet you're a mighty fine teacher. Glad to hear you stuck with it."] He said, his smile still on his lips. And he meant every word that he had said.
Her asking if he wanted to stay as she did had admittedly taken him by surprise. He jad only come by because his momma had sent him with the boxes. But he had always loved Mrs. Taylor's fried chicken. Why did the fates have to be so cruel? Slowly he nodded to her question.
[b "You know I could never turn down your momma's fried chicken. It's been too long since have had it."]
She smiled when she heard his question. [b “I moved up to Seattle as free college. I’m a first grade teacher.”] she said softly. She’d went to Seattle on a weekend trip with her girlfriends as a present to themselves for graduating college, and she fell in love with it.
She glanced up at him when she heard him laugh. She hadn’t heard that in such a long time. He had a smile that could light up their entire town, and a laugh that went right along with it. She blushed when she heard his offer to stay. [b “It’s no trouble. Really..”] she said. [b “Unless... you’re hungry? I smell mommas famous fried chicken.”] She was anxious to see what his response would be.
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