Timestamp: sometime in the not-so-far hypothetical future
Characters: provinces and territories minus one, France, England, Canada, America
Warnings: death, but not directly; general morbidity; Unimagine doesn't like quotation marks
Summary: Reaction shots and a funeral. (Or, to put it simply, Quebec dies and this is how everyone else reacts.)
Nova Scotia dresses in a suit of dark blue, not black. It reminds him of the sea.
He does not stand upon the podium, but on the ground, level with his family. The coffin looms behind him. It is empty.
Family, he begins.
He was my big brother, she speaks, soft and sweet.
He was my big brother, she swallows, and blinks.
He was my big brother, and he was a little scary, sometimes.
But he was nice, too, a lot of the time.
And I miss him, the youngest sister says, clasping mittened hands together.
It wasn't supposed to go like this, you bastard.
He stabs another dart into the carpet. Thirteen. His tie begins to feel like a noose.
And now I can't even yell at you for it.
France blows a thick trail of smoke from his lips and watches it dissipate into the air. The smell lingers.
She gasps into Manitoba's neck and feels suddenly weak, muscles clenching for a second and falling limp. His heartbeat pulses at two points beneath her; she feels it under her palm and against her cheek.
His voice is hoarse. Did you - ?
Yes, British Columbia whispers, holding him close, I felt it too.
Alberta leaves his hat on the casket, then turns away, head bowed, smaller, somehow.
His quiet brother touches the lacquered black wood and nods once, as if in confirmation.
England flies over as soon as security is lifted.
They ask him to give a speech, remembering, for once, that he is the eldest among them. He gazes at them silently with wide blue eyes. His other half snuffles and whines softly, pushing a wet nose into his counterpart's face.
Finally, the boy shakes his head slowly and defers to Nova Scotia. Newfoundland speaks in his own way.
Northwest breathes a prayer in all the languages she knows and thinks a farewell in all the tongues she doesn't know. The Yukon sits beside her, fighting to hold back tears, as much unused to the display of grief as to her ill-fitting black dress.
She opens her eyes. The headache bides its time, dormant, ready to return once she moves her head.
Nova Scotia slumps in a chair beside her bed, asleep. She can hear his quiet breaths. Prince Edward Island sits on the other side of the bed, wringing a wet cloth. Her hands are warm and pink and firm, motherly. She places the cool cloth on New Brunswick's forehead; streaks of water inch down her face towards the pillow.
He's gone, isn't he, New Brunswick croaks, forest fires in her throat still burning.
The smaller province squeezes her hand. Yes. But we're still here.
And that's something, in the end, isn't it.
America sends aid immediately, fighting tooth and nail to get to his brother. The hospital room is far too bright, and the figure in the bed seems pale enough to dissolve under the fluorescent lights. A glass museum. Look, but don't touch.
Canada feels like a doughnut. There's a hole in him that used to be filled with something (strawberry jam, peanut butter) but now his center is gone, and he can feel the wind blowing straight through him, freezing his insides.
He is perhaps a bit delirious, still. Two weeks is not and has never been enough time to recover (cover, white sheets and black body bags). He only began to walk with assistance a day ago.
Maybe this is what it's like to lose a child, or a parent. (Thousands of parents and children lost. This should be no different. Should be.)
Perhaps this hole will last forever. He wants it to. Lest he forget.
Family, he begins.
We mourn our brother today.
WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN
I suppose my general idea is, How would the sudden death of a province affect the rest of the country? But one could write essays and essays on that! So my brain turned out something weird instead. How would you kill an anthropomorphic personification, anyway? I really don't know. I am, however, very happy that this future will likely never happen; you can't eradicate a culture and a people that easily.
Apologies for the vagueness, again. Someday I will write something happy and not so confusingly abstract.
In case it was unclear, which it certainly might have been, the guy with the darts is Ontario.
The quiet brother is Saskatchewan.
The youngest sister is Nunavut.