Concealment was easier in a crowd. Aunts and uncles and cousins swarming around me, telling me I looked well, complimenting my suit which was the same color as theirs but a better style - all attempting the same trick of light, grief-free conversation - meant I could simply coast through the room without thinking too hard. Only a couple of people were openly grieving. Hanging by the walls, eyes on the casket, voices strained and cracked when they spoke. I kept my interactions with them to a minimum. Just enough to be polite. I kept my posture straight and my words calm and my face neutral through the whole ordeal, and was mentally congratulating myself by the time everyone was seated and the funeral proper ready to start. Sam was far away. I saw him in glimpses, but his posture was straight too, his words calm, face neutral. What upstanding sons we were. I didn’t pay attention to what was said before I went up for the eulogy. My ears were buzzing, and I welcomed it - another layer to add to the numbness. Easier to block everything out until this was all over. I was already fantasizing about that dingy hotel room I’d dropped my bags in a few hours ago, and what a long, welcome sleep I’d get on the cheap spring mattress after the funeral got out. And then later, how nice it would be to emerge from my plane into bright southern California, where everyone’s clothes were colorful and palm trees were more common than maple and oak. My name was called - John, the son of the deceased - and I was poised when I stood and approached the podium. I gave that half-convincing half-smile to the crowd, and stood tall, sure the microphone would pick me up. I talked about olive bread. My voice didn’t tremble. Others in the audience cried, but I ignored them. ______ I thought I was in the clear when Sam approached me outside. Farewells had all been said, and I was halfway in my cab, when he and his pale Vermont face appeared in front of me again. I paused, blinking, wondering if he was here to tell me I’d forgotten something. But he stammered a little when he spoke. “D’you - is it all right if I crash with you?” I shouldn’t have been so surprised. Of course he needed somewhere to stay, too, before he caught a flight back up north. And we were brothers, after all, and we’d shared a room for most of our childhood. But the request took me aback all the same. And the red in his cheeks, as though he’d confessed to something shameful, told me he understood my confusion just as well as I did. It had been three or four years now. “Well, sure,” I said, “but I don’t have an extra bed.” “I’ll take the couch.” And once we were both in the cab I didn’t have it in me to care anymore, whether Sam was here or not. My all-nighter had caught up to me. The sky was gray, and the sandwich I picked up from another out-of-the-way fast food place for lunch was tasteless, and it was spring in the place my father had lived and died. We got to the hotel room, and I kicked off my shoes and threw off my jacket, and went to sleep on the bed with the rest of my funeral clothes on. ______ I slept a long, long time. Ridiculously long. I should have woken in the evening, when Sam must have gotten off the couch where he’d crashed and left the hotel room. Or I should have woken when it was dark, and I’d missed dinner and slept longer than I had since I was a child. Or I should have woken when the sun rose, its murky light oozing through the hotel curtains to show me a world where my father was surrounded by dirt. But in the end it was the smell that woke me. When I opened my eyes, I thought it all must have been a dream. The funeral, the death, the goodbye, the four years not seeing Sam, California - all a dream, and I was still in high school struggling through stupid Latin vocabulary. And maybe I’d fallen asleep at my desk midafternoon. Because the smell, strong and hearty and heady and warm, was one that always greeted me an hour before dinner. I didn’t understand the scene in front of me. Sam in a rumpled t-shirt and jeans, lines around and under his eyes, his hair a little receded from his forehead - not high-school Sam, but someone older. Holding a cutting board in one hand and a knife in the other. “What…” I murmured, and my voice wasn’t my high-school voice.