" Movement "
The following morning, after cleaning the sweat off his cold body and dressing my father in a new gi, Mom wipes away her tears and, in a cracking voice, says," Thank you, everyone, for being here during my husband's final moments. You have no idea how much joy it brought him having you all here," she pauses, blinks away a fresh wave of tears, and continues." I think Goku knew that he wasn't going to live through this virus, which is why he told me he wanted to be buried next to his grandfather. If you're ready, I'd like to hold the funeral today."
None of us are ready to say our goodbyes to my father. None of us wants to see him buried, cold and alone, ten feet beneath the dirt, but we can't very well leave him to decay in the living room either.
Wordlessly, Tien, Krillin, Yamcha and I slip out of the house to gather the supplies we'll need to build my father's coffin. I pick out the light sand-colored wood to use, something my mother might find pretty. The others buy the nails, hinges, handles, and everything else we'll need to put the coffin together. Before returning, Krillin pulls me aside and asks," Are you going to be alright, Gohan? You look like you're ready to faint."
Sometime last night I stopped crying. Everyone must've thought I was holding back my tears because I was trying to be strong for my mother's sake, but I wasn't. My face felt numb, and I couldn't cry anymore. I didn't know if this was normal or not.
"You don't have to worry about me. I'll be fine," I say, but even I can hear the quiver in my voice. Losing someone I love for the first time in my life feels painful, how can anyone survive through this type of pain? Back when I thought my father had died on planet Namek, there was always hope that I could wish him back to life with the dragonballs. But that hope was gone now. He died a natural death, and there was no coming back from that.
Krillin studies my face." Wait here," he says, then runs to where Tien and Yamcha are waiting. Krillin passes off his supplies to them, then rushes back to me, taking my hand." Let's go!" He leads me down the street, turns left, and we keep heading straight.
It's a typical Wednesday morning for most people, which seems so unnatural to me. How can the world go on in blissful peace when my father is dead? Steady traffic flows along the streets. Although they're just a blur, I'm aware of clusters of people on the sidewalk. A man with a full beard and his young son come out of a toy store, the doorbell chiming upon their exit, and they begin to walk in the opposite direction as us.
My heels dig into the sidewalk, forcing Krillin to stop long enough for me to stare longingly over my shoulder at the duo. That boy will never experience the pain of losing a parent so early in life. He gets to go home, play with the new toy his dad bought for him, and have dinner with his dad later tonight. It doesn't seem fair. Why did my father have to die?
"Where are we going? " I ask in an exhausted voice." I'm not in the mood for shopping. Can't we just go back to my house? I'm sure the guys will need our help."
Krillin had taken notice of the man and his son when I stopped, and he's staring at them still. It's hard to tell what he's thinking. Unaware they're being watched, the father and son take a right and disappear forever around the corner. Krillin smiles at me. The corners of his mouth are trembling like he wants to cry.
"I just thought we should grab something to eat. Goku would always act strange when he was hungry, too. I bet you'll feel a lot better after you eat something."
Before I can tell him that I'm not – and probably never will be – hungry ever again, my stomach growls like a tired old dog.
Krillin pretends not to have heard my stomach and points to a building a block away." That place down there serves giant sandwiches. Let's get something from there."
"Okay," I reply.
My stomach growls and rumbles the rest of the short walk there. Krillin orders the twenty-four-inch sub with everything on it, and a twelve-inch veggie sub without pickles. Under normal circumstances I would've found the worker's bewildered expressions amusing, but all I can manage is a weak "thank you" after they finish preparing the subs, and I start tearing into the twenty-four-inch sub on the spot. Food that is usually bought to feed a party of people gets devoured in under fifteen minutes.
"Are you going to eat that?" I ask, referring to the remaining half of the twelve-inch sub that Krillin didn't eat. Krillin doesn't have much of an appetite, so he gives the rest of his sandwich to me. "Wow, thanks Krillin!" The veggie sub isn't as good as my sandwich was, but it's still pretty tasty. My sadness hasn't gone away but at least my stomach isn't empty anymore.
We leave the sandwich shop and walk down the sidewalk together in silence. After a few moments, Krillin clears his throat.
"Gohan, I want you to know that you can always come to me for anything. If you ever want to hang out, spar, go out to lunch, hear stories about when your dad was a kid, or just talk, you can find me at Master Roshi's house. Do you remember where that is?"
An island in the middle of the ocean. How could I ever forget it? Uncle Raditz had kidnapped me from there, leading to my father's first death.
" Good. Let's head back," Krillin says, affectionately ruffling my hair.
Most of the coffin has been put together by the time we fly back to the house. I watch them work in a numb trance, until Yamcha hands his hammer over to me. I take it and walk towards the coffin. The others watch from a respectful distance as I nail in place the final piece to the coffin: the lid.
Once I'm finished, I test out the lid by opening and closing it three times. After the third test, I leave the coffin lid open. Mom, who has been watching us work from the living room window, steps out of the house carrying a bundle of white blankets and a satin pillow. She folds the blankets and arranges them at the bottom of the coffin, adding the satin pillow near the top. The bed looks so inviting I have to fight off the urge to climb into the coffin and take a nap. There will be plenty of time to sleep and mourn after the funeral.
A part of me hopes that my mother will praise me for helping to build my father's coffin, but she doesn't. She simply stares at it, her expression a mixture of sadness and horror. Bulma wraps her arms around her, and they lean into each other as my mountainous grandpa walks out of the house with my dead father in his arms.
It's horrible seeing my once strong, dependable, cheerful, and lively father being set gently into the coffin as if he were a newborn infant. There's a blueish tint to his skin now, so we can't even pretend that he's just asleep. He truly is dead. Everyone turns away from the sight with tears in their eyes. Mom and Bulma break out into loud sobs.
The only way I can express my grief now is through shudders and whimpers, I'm fresh out of tears. Vegeta's boots crunch into the grass as he, unexpectedly, stomps over to the casket. He's scowling, baring his teeth as if my father has offended him in some unforgivable way.
"He's already in the otherworld," Vegeta shouts at us." If it were up to me I would've disintegrated him with a ki blast! Just dig a hole and throw him in there already!"
Mom sobs louder at the thought of her husband's body being disintegrated. Grandpa's frown deepens. Yamcha clenches his jaw. Bulma shoots Vegeta a scathing look, and Krillin instinctively gets into a defensive stance like he always does around Vegeta. Even Launch looks disturbed by his words.
It's Tien who's brave enough to confront Vegeta.
"No one's asking you to stick around," Tien says calmly." You can leave if you want."
Vegeta's left eye twitches, and he releases an animalistic growl. I sense Puar and Oolong run back into the house out of fear.
Movement from within the coffin grabs my attention. Was I imagining things, or did the fingers on my father's left hand just move?
"Now, now. This is no place to start a fight, boys," Master Roshi intercedes." Let's all try to get along today. I'm sure Goku must be watching us right now from the otherworld. We should give him the proper, respectful burial he would've wanted. In other words, no one will be thrown into a hole or disintegrated today, Vegeta."
The fingers on both of my father's hands are twitching, along with his face. Hope fans to life within me, heating my blood and accelerating my rapidly beating heart. My breath catches in my throat, and I'm unsure if I should call attention to my father or not. Minutes after he first died his body twitched in a similar manner, which Grandpa had assured me was just the body's normal response to dying. Was it possible my father had come back to life?
"Tsk, do whatever you want, fools, " Vegeta roars, slamming the coffin shut. All of us flinch at the sound it makes, but the wood I had chosen is sturdy; it doesn't break. Vegeta crosses his arms and walks to the edge of the yard. He takes a moment to gather his thoughts at the creek running down the mountain, then, shoots a glare at me from over his shoulder before blasting off into the sky.
"Good riddance," Tien spits.
The glare Vegeta gave me doesn't go unnoticed by Krillin. He shuffles over to my side, keeping his voice low in case what I have to say is some sort of huge secret. "What was that about?"
My attention returns to the closed lid of the coffin, and I quickly raise my shoulders in a half-hearted shrug." I don't know." In that moment I decide not to tell anyone about the movement I saw coming from my father's corpse. I couldn't sense his ki. Why get everyone excited over nothing?
"That guy is a dick," Yamcha boldly proclaims." I'll never understand why Goku didn't kill him when he had the chance. Now that Goku isn't around to keep the guy in check, are we sure that Vegeta isn't going to turn on us? Shouldn't we do something?"
Everyone goes silent, and grief is replaced by fear. Dad was the only one capable of protecting us from Vegeta. If Vegeta wanted to kill us all or become the supreme ruler of Earth, no one was strong enough to stop him.
"He's not going to hurt us."
My mouth closes as quickly as it opened. Those were the words I was going to say, but someone else spoke them before I had a chance to.
Yamcha narrows his eyes at his girlfriend. Bulma narrows her eyes right back at him.
"How would you know? That guy is a monster! He's killed so many people already! It's only a matter of time before someone pisses him off and he goes on a killing rampage. Just because you have a weird crush on the guy doesn't mean the rest of us should—"
Bulma hits Yamcha so hard across the face that even I wince.
"Don't be stupid, Yamcha! If Vegeta wanted to kill us or take over the world, he would've done it already, so lay off the poor guy!"
Yamcha tenderly rubs the red mark left behind on his cheek. " You didn't have to hit me," He weakly mumbles," I was just joking. I know you don't actually have a crush on him."
"Promise me you won't try killing Vegeta in his sleep later. That would really piss the guy off," says an anxious Krillin.
Ever since we returned from Namek, Vegeta has been staying at Capsule Corporation with Bulma. The thought of slipping out of bed in the middle of the night to slit Vegeta's throat must've crossed Yamcha's mind more than once since he shamefully lowers his head to the ground.
Piccolo stands up from the flat rock he'd been sitting on and approaches the coffin. "I trust Goku's judgement. If he thought Vegeta deserved a second chance then I'm not going to question why," he simply says, ending the argument for good. He rests his hand upon the coffin, shuts his eyes, and quietly mouths his final goodbyes to my father.
Piccolo reaches down to grab one of the four handles sticking out of the side of the coffin. He pauses, shooting a look at the guys.
Yamcha, Tien, and Krillin follow Piccolo's lead. They each grab a handle, lift the coffin up, then rest it on their shoulders. The part that Krillin is holding up leans to the right at a comical angle. He's too short to set the coffin on the edge of his shoulder, so he makes do with lifting the coffin above his head with both palms.
"Ready?" Piccolo directs the question at my mother.
She dabs at her face with a handkerchief and nods.
Leave a comment if you've enjoyed this chapter, I'd love to hear from you! I'm horrible at responding but I do read the comments.