Those first moments as you open the door, and you feel the warmth of the sun beating on your face, are when you begin to realize the journey ahead of you. The birds chirp, not out of joy, but out of pain, as the blistering heat makes them simmer and cook. You wipe the sweat from your brow and adjust your collar.
Those first moments as the subway doors open before you, and you feel the smoke and the black air swarm your lungs, are when you realize it's too late to go back. Your fellow passengers cough and sneeze and infect the air around you, and it's all you can do to take the handkerchief from your coat pocket and shield your mouth from breathing in the filthy toxins of this place. A blind man savors the black air and dances with his saxophone by an overturned hat filled with cash. You convince yourself that his music is in commemoration of your voyage. The doors close behind the last passenger as he scurries to the closest seat.
Those first moments as the subway doors close behind you and the crowd engulfs you, when you feel like a fish against the current, struggling to move past the horde of people, are when you regret making this journey. The people around you look annoyed and angry, yet they all seem devoid of a heart or soul. They look as though their lives are not blessings from God, but chores. The people glare at each other, each trying to judge the other, and you see pickpockets bump into them left and right, taking whatever they please. Their apathy keeps the thieves hidden. You smile at how stupid people are, to not even notice when their possessions are missing. You keep moving against the current as you realize your pockets feel lighter.
Those first moments as the taxi door slams behind you and you first look in disgust at the pathetic little building in front of you, are when you can feel the weight of reality upon your shoulders. As you walk inside the building, you see that the interior is cheerfully decorated, despite the off-putting exterior. A subtle, floral wallpaper lines the walls, and the sterile, wooden floors glimmer in the light. A fish tank sits along the wall between two doors to the left. The fish all gather around the glass panel to look at you, but they see nothing of interest and disperse within seconds. A woman in a black dress points the way for you to continue your trip. For you to reach your destination. So you go forward.
Those first moments as you enter the room, and the wave of death envelopes you, are when you realize that you are devoid of emotion. You have no sympathy for the departed, and the hushed sobs and frantic weeping around annoys you. It annoys you and you are angry with the people around you. Why do they pretend that the deceased was not a bastard? That they did not all share a scar from the deceased? The way they hide the truth sickens you, like the old man still has his suffocating grip on them. Even after death, he still manipulates them from accepting the truth. You approach his casket, almost stomping toward him, and you spit on his face. You hear gasps behind you, but only from those who did not truly know the dead man in life. Before some God or High Being graced the world with the man's death. Your sister claps. She wears a triumphant smile on her face and claps, with a tear running down her cheek. Not a mourning tear, but a happy tear. A free tear. A tear that has finally escaped oppression. Your parents begin to clap too. Even your grandmother. All clapping. Curious, how one action was all it took for people to admit to the truth, that he was an awful man who deserves not the least bit of sympathy.
Those first moments as you enter the bar with your family, the first time you've had something to celebrate in decades, are when you realize that your nightmare is over. He is gone and you are free. And you lift your glass and declare a toast.
"To freedom!" you shout.
Your family cheers.
"May the old man rot in hell!"
Your family cheers and clinks their glasses together.
"I'll drink to that!" your prudish grandmother shouts.