If the morning is supposed to do away with the night, then where is the sun?

No blue skies, today there is only gray and dreary. It covered up what was happening here very well and applied the perfect lighting to this occasion. It was a deep and metaphorical conduit for this morning of mourning. His mother Sylvia had passed away overnight and today was her funeral.

Nick sat in the farthest back row of black fold up chairs. The procession in front of him was lined with horrible wails and smothering empathy abound. They all seemed to be playing a balancing act of letting their feelings out through sobs and pushing them back in with comfort from another. Not Nick... he swore with every ounce of pride in his body that he would not be letting those emotions out today. Anyone could stop and wonder why he might do that to himself, but for Nick, it was an act of integrity. His mother was the greatest mammal he had now or ever would meet for the rest of his life and she deserved better than that. What if she was watching from heaven? Is this what she wanted to see?

Disgust rooted out of his stomach, and it's roots twisted his face as he surveyed the wailing mob before him. He knew she wouldn't want this.

It started to sprinkle with rain as the pastor droned on with his last rights. The entire procession took place outdoors with a cheaply built white canopy draped with white cloth banners all the way around the seating area. The top of it was open, however, and they would have no protection from the rain. Nick thought it was refreshing, and savored the icy mist that blanketed his face.

"Our father... who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name..."

It came to his ears only in pieces. His mind was buzzing with a low roar of static, and he could neither see nor hear everything that was in front of him. To try and drown it out he closed his eyes.

He couldn't stop it, no matter how hard he tried his thoughts pushed him towards her. Remembering her sweet and lyrical voice, the softness of her touch, and the joy that he'd felt every day until now because of her. He didn't need her to protect him anymore, he hadn't for quite some time now, but all the same... the world would not be so colorful without her.

'Nicky eat your greens.' His subconscious played his fondest memories for him and he fought to extinguish them in vain. '...I hate 'em.'

'You hate them... why?' It began to echo. 'Cuz' they're gross.'

'You know... Iron Moose eats them.'

'... really?' He could see it as if he'd traveled time. That dining room table that had a little divet in it just to the edge of his reach. He would pretend his fingers were swimmers and dive them in. He was so easily distracted.

'Alright... get your things' It felt like his entire head was inside a microwave, the static tingling his face. 'Nick come down here we're going to see Judy.'

'I like Judy, she's a girl but at least she likes bugs.' His stomach churned, and suddenly he felt sick. The chairs in front him started to tumble like a looking through a kaleidoscope. He stood up quick and hurried away from the procession.

Once he'd gotten to the closest structure he leaned on it and hung his head to vomit. It didn't come but he gasped for breath and held his aching stomach. 'You have to be strong like mommy ok?'

He caught a sob trying to force its way out and it only came as a snort. He held his snout shut and waited for the Cemetary to stop spinning. His composure slowly returned and the world stopped spinning. He took a deeply needed sigh and balanced back on both feet. He soon noticed that the structure he'd been leaning on was a mozo li um and ran his hands across the course and flakey bricks. It was painted white but it was chipping, it needed new paint.

He watched his feet cross the wet grass as he walked. His hands in his pockets, his mind fuzzy with stress, he put the past behind. This moment was for showing respect to the woman who made him who he was today. He was strong now. He'd grown into a respectable adult thanks to all of her lessons, she couldn't have done anything better even if she'd tried. He just wished he'd been able to tell her that before she was gone.

The remainder of the funeral procession went by with the drone of bible verses and tears. His mind stayed empty until it was time to lower her coffin. He was given a rose by a funeral attendant, ironically she was a little grey bunny. Judy didn't even cross his mind. Today wasn't about her. As he approached his mother's grave he felt a terrible panic wash over him. Thus far, it had all felt surreal. But this would be the moment that it would be final. The last time he would ever see her. When the moment of truth came he stopped just short of being able to see her coffin in that hole... he couldn't do it. He couldn't look into that grave.

He tossed his rose without looking in.

"Nicky wait!"

His aunt Loraine was chasing after him. Nick had started walking with all haste to get away from this godforsaken place, he wanted nothing more to do with it. The only thing on his mind was getting a drink at the Roundup. When he heard her chasing him he stopped.

"Have you seen Gideon?" She was trying to catch her breath.

"No." His response was brief. He was trying to get that drink.

"Oh." She spent another moment hunched over. Then with a deep breath, she stood up straight and fixed her hair. "I thought for sure he would be with you."

She was in a black gown, with a very old looking diamond necklace. Nick felt anxiety and impatience clawing at his back. It was shoving him towards the car, persuading him to put the bar before everything else. He needed it to numb the pain that was trying to force it's way to the surface.

"Are you alright dear... you don't look so good?"

"I will be." He looked around to see who else was there who might try to hold him up. His aunt kept talking but he wasn't paying attention, he noticed Judy's parents in the front row. "If I see Giddy I'll let him know you were looking for him."

She wasn't quite done talking yet, but this was not the occasion for arguing. If Nick was acting strangely there could be no better explanation than the passing of his mother.

"Alright sweetheart well... hey!" She looked as though she'd almost forgotten something. She pulled her black purse around in front of her and started digging around inside. What she came back out with came as a surprise to Nick. "This is your mother's wedding ring, she didn't put it in her will but she told me before she passed that she wanted you to have it."

She took his left hand and gently placed it inside, folding his fingers around it.

"To be honest, it is "technically" in the will. She left it to your father supposing he wasn't dead already." She chuckled only for a moment until she remembered the nature of the man she was talking about. "But that man doesn't deserve anything from us... So I want you to have it, Nicky."

He watched her smile at him with the same smile his mother had, then quickly looked away as his memories started dragging him down again. He slowly opened his hand and stared at his mother's ring. He could only ever remember seeing it from far away and always on her hand. He expected it to look bigger than it was. "Thanks, Mimi."

She covered her mouth as she chuckled again. "You haven't called me "Mimi" since you were a little boy Nicky." Her reminiscent laughter turned to empathetic concern. "You must be really torn up about this..."

As he opened his mouth to speak he noticed that the Hopps' were headed this way, and hastily backed out of his conversation with his aunt. "Look I need a drink, I'll call you later."

"Wait Nicky!" She tried to call him back to her with no luck, he was already gone.

The briskness of his steps stung his feet against the freezing cold grass. He ignored it and went straight to the driver said door of his old pickup truck. He tried the knob but it was locked. As he fumbled for his keys in his pocket he dropped them, then flew into a momentary fit of rage and annoyance. He slammed his elbow into the window and heard it pop, but luckily the glass didn't break.

He groaned as he leaned down to pick up his keys and when he came back up...

"Hey, Nicky baby."

A shockwave of pressure traveled the length of his chest and spine like swallowing a horse pill that wouldn't go down, or maybe that's what having a heart attack felt like. "Jesus!" He slumped forward supporting himself on the driver side mirror as he tried to slow his heart rate down and regain his balance.

She did a one-eighty hop and landed hard on the hood of his truck, then she slid her legs out and landed in a sitting position. "Miss me yet?"

Judy's sister Sophie was not one to err on the side of caution when approaching a delicate situation. She would most likely show no discretion in the fact that she was talking to someone who's having the worst day of their life.

"We buried my mom today... how about some compassion?"

She mocked him by rubbing her eye and frowning as if to call him a crybaby. He glared up at her then took a moment to stand up straight and shake some of the tension out of his shoulders. While he was getting more comfortable she swung her feet dangling off the side of his hood.

"Why don't you go bother your mom?"

"Are we doing your mom jokes now?" She was trying her hardest to be as obnoxious as possible, and she had very few boundaries when it came to pushing buttons. "Ok... yo' momma's so dead the worms won't pay her rent."

"Don't you have a conscience!?" He was truly dumbfounded by her lack of empathy, but when he watched her bust up laughing he couldn't help but feel a little bit better. He'd been trying to repress his sorrows all morning and the comedic relief she provided wasn't wasted on him, even though it should've been.

He crossed his arms and leaned against his driver side door. Oddly enough a few rays of sunshine happened to break through the overcast right above his head. He thought that it seemed a little symbolic as he shielded his eyes.

Sophie was watching him with quiet amusement, taking in the smile on his face. She was wild and ruthless but she was still proud of how she could make him smile on the day of his mother's funeral.

"So... how's my baby sis'?"

"I wouldn't know." His smile faded.

"Hmm?" Her grin was sinister. "Having second thoughts Nicky?"

He watched as the overcast blotted out those rays of sunshine, extinguishing them just as quickly as they came. He didn't even want to talk about Judy right now. His mother dying was enough sorrow for one day.

"Why don't you just ask her yourself?" It seemed like a bit of a cop out.

She crossed her arms and tilted her head up just like he was doing and watched him out of the corner of her eye to see if he would notice. After a moment, he did glance over but was wise enough not to play into her games. He didn't so much as bat an eye at her mockery.

Once she noticed he wasn't in the mood anymore she went back to the way she'd been sitting, with her hands resting on his hood, lazily swinging her dangling legs. She bobbed her head to the rhythm of her feet hitting his tire for a minute and then sighed.

"Cheer up you punk." Her head was still pointed up but she tilted it in his direction to look at him. "You're being a downer."

"I can't be a downer at my own mother's funeral?" He scoffed half-heartedly.

She finally hopped off of the hood and scanned the retreating crowd. It seemed that the ceremony was over. As she watched them she noticed her parents headed their way, and decided it was time to go. She wouldn't be joining them... god no. She hated her mother more than anything. Poor old Nick would have to go it on his own from here.

"Welp." She yawned and stretched. "It's been real and all that..."

She started to walk away and Nick watched her go. Once she'd gotten a few cars away she turned back around with a softer grin this time.

"Y'know, if you asked really nicely I'd give you a real shot at me Nicky."

He wasn't expecting to hear that, and his face reflected it. Once he realized that he shook his head and took a deep breath to get rid of it. When he looked back up and opened his mouth to fire back she was already much farther away, and he didn't want to shout what he was about to say.

To be completely honest, Nick didn't want to talk to Judy's parents at the moment either. So without waiting to bid any farewells to his loved ones, who might not ever be in the same place again until someone else's funeral, he unlocked his truck and hopped inside.

Next stop... self-destruction.