Who was she?
The people stood around the gazebo, staring at a speaker whose voice was too low for outsiders to hear. Dusk had already snatched the light from the sky, and the park was shrouded in near-darkness. The crowd’s murmurs melted in the still air. Past them, the water reflected the sky’s dark hues—navy blue traced between gold, blended with aqua green.
Who was she?
The speaker seemed to know. So did the people who walked to the water after the eulogy had been given. As they stood by the guardrail, a song broke forth. It was sad, heavenly, rising up to meet the clouds like the soul that had flown up days before. We’ll meet again, it promised.
The people were moving now, in rhythm to the song—picking things up, lighting them, throwing them into the air.
Lanterns. They ascended over the water. The first was red, then orange, yellow, pink, green. A woman let her lantern go and it floated low, almost grazing the surface of the water. A father held his son up and the toddler tossed his to join the others.
After the lanterns were airborne, they stood and watched.
Who was she?
It was probably the question of every soul in town as the lanterns floated over the rooftops. The colors were distinct at first. The girl sitting on the swing near the gazebo could pick them out in rainbow order. But as they got farther away, they lost all hue and began to resemble stars. Minutes later, there were no colors—only a new constellation that braced itself against the dark April sky.
Who was she?
Every person who saw the lanterns could not answer that question. The girl on the swing didn’t know. Neither did the man who stumbled by her before the ceremony began.
They had seen the love of her family float on wind, blaze in beauty, fade away.
They had watched as her memory burned itself into the hearts of the people who walked away from the gazebo.
They had been to her funeral without knowing her name.

This is another piece of creative nonfiction that I wrote for class. It was one of the most amazing and unexpected things I have ever witnessed ( I was “the girl on the swing”), and I was glad to have the opportunity to write about it.
Image is from “Chinese or Sky Lanterns Festival” )

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