"Looks can be deceiving", she muttered under her breath.
All around her the atmosphere was gloomy and depressing, as the service slowly wound its way to the end. She could hardly sit still in the suffocating atmosphere of the church, as the heat and perspiration made her fidget uncontrollably. Dan, sitting next to her, glared at her as she tried to remove the black gloves that were making her skin crawl with an unbearable itch. Catching his eye, she glowered at him and sat back in the pew, pushing her hat as far back as she could, to let the stillness of the air touch her curly, rich locks.
'Did you say something?' Dan asked her in a furious whisper. She merely looked at her fingers on her lap and ignored him.
"He was a good man, who worked tirelessly for the community," said the priest, glancing over briefly at the body in the coffin.
"He was a kind man, one who never said 'No' to a plea for help. Losing him is an irreparable void for this community."
'Good riddance, you mean', she murmured, with her eyes clamped shut.
"Would you like to leave?' Dan hissed at her, with the implication that 'Yes' was not an acceptable answer.
Half-turning in her seat, she wriggled desperately to get comfortable, while drawing the disapproving looks of the other mourners. Losing every shred of interest in the proceedings, she wistfully looked at the stained glass window next to her pew and saw the Red Tree, bending under the weight of age. Its barren branches and their twisted pride always appealed to her.
The end of the service jolted her out of her reverie and she sat bolt upright. At Dan's signal, she rose and stood, but refused to budge. With a frustrated sigh, he gripped her hand and nudged her forward towards the coffin. She eyed his prostrate form with distaste, as he lay there, attired impeccably in a black suit, with a red cloth peeping out of his coat pocket.
"Well, at least they'll give him a rousing welcome,dressed like that. I just hope the pitchforks can get through all that puffed-up pride, " she said in a voice, loud enough to draw shocked looks from the mourners behind her.
Dan threw an apologetic glance at them and whisked her away from there as swiftly as he could.
"Honestly, do you have no restraint?" he uttered with repressed anger. "The community loved him. He was an angel to so many. And there you are, saying all those things out loud! What has he ever done to you?"
Her wrinkled eyes looked up at her son, who had never known the truth. His wonderful dad, the caring neighbour and the loving community worker, lay inside the church, waiting to be buried. No, Dan didn't know the truth.
Only she knew it. She and one other. The young, pregnant corpse of her husband's paramour.
She lay buried under the Red Tree, right next to the church. She never stood a chance as his strong fingers deliberately squeezed the life out of her, while his wife watched helplessly from the confessional booth within.
Word count: 530
Written for the Speakeasy Challenge # 153
This week we had to use this as the first line:
“Looks can be deceiving.”
In addition, we had to make a reference to the media prompt given above:
A painting titled Avond (Evening): The Red Tree
By the artist Piet Mondrian
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