Remembering Inara Chapter 4 - In Inara's Words
Thursday, August 27, 2015

“Inara left instructions for having this End of Mourning ceremony. She asked that someone read this out loud.” --Zoe Washburne


Jayne slowly walks up to the front of the bay, pushes a button on the wall, and leans against it music begins to play. River enters from the back of the cargo bay. She has just showered, her hair is wet, a dressing has been taped to her left temple. River makes her way slowly, with the graceful movements of a dancer up the aisle stopping in front of the table at the opposite end. The table has been covered with one of Inara's favorite scarves which Buddha is resting on. Incense is burning and several candles have been lit. She bows her head showing respect to Buddha and says a brief prayer. Finding a place among the pillows, River sits down. Kaylee and Simon make their way up the aisle. “River made it back.” She says, waving to her sister-in-law.

Simon reaches up and holds Kaylee's hand gently bringing it down to rest at his wife's side. “No sudden movements, River is still keyed up right now. There has been a lot of fighting. This last one was pretty bloody.”

Kaylee nods. The couple takes their seats.

Zoe and Emma begin their walk to the altar. “I want to thank you for being so well behaved lately. You're a great kid but you have been exceptionally good this last year.” Zoe says.

Emma nods.

“You look nice today too Emma.”

“Thank you Mom. You look pretty too. It's nice of you to read the speech.”

“Now that it's here I'm kind of wishing I wasn't.” Zoe confesses.

“Why are you?”

“Because Mal is one of my oldest and dearest friends. Inara was a friend and a wonderful person. She helped deliver you, did you know that?” Emma shakes her head.

“I'll have to tell you that story some day.” Zoe looks at her daughter. “Your Aunt Kaylee was going to do this but she breaks down every time she starts reading it.” Zoe and Emma stop at the altar. Zoe walks across the hold and stands next to Jayne. Emma finds a seat among the pillows.

Mal walks up the aisle, stopping at the altar. The moment has a surreal quality. Mal finds himself wondering where this last year went. Looking at the statue, something inside of him screams out, “No! I'm not ready for this.” Mal looks over at Zoe and hears her words. I know sir but your children are. They need to be able to laugh again. Your kids need to be something else. They need to do something else. Mal turns back, looking at his children all three of them, young, full of life, looking so much like Inara...except for the hair. He blinks back a tear. Mal turns back to the altar, his jaw clenches for a moment, he says a brief prayer out of respect for Inara and as a gentle reminder to his children. He turns and finds a seat next to Emma Washburne. Emma doesn't look much like Wash but she radiates something that Wash did too. Today, especially it was a comfort to Mal.

“It's your turn.” Imala says to her brothers.

The boys make their way down the aisle, stopping briefly at the altar and then sit down in front of their father without fighting. The room breathes a sigh of relief.

Imala takes her turn walking up the aisle in a long flowing robe made from black fabric printed with intricate golden designs. She walks using her Inara's gait. Radiating the same quiet beauty of her mother.

The mood shifts throughout the room. Imala is no longer there. Only Inara. Inara stops at the altar and does not move. She faces forward away from the group. Zoe returns to the front of the bay and begins. “Inara left instructions for having this End of Mourning ceremony. She asked that someone read this out loud.” Zoe holds up a letter written in Inara Reynold's flowing script and begins.

“I want to thank everyone for coming and being a part of this ceremony. It will end the period of mourning. Anyone who has been to one of these before can tell that the setting, the altar, and the way everyone entered are the only parts of it that are traditional to my home world. The rest is of my design. I take full responsibility for it. Here I am writing what I won't be able to say to all of you a year from now and I am having trouble finding the right words. I have known for a while now that my time was going to be shorter than most people's. I never shared that information with any of you, not until I had to. Not even Mal. I knew if I said anything that I would never have the life I wanted. It was selfish I know. I am sorry. I hope some day you will come to understand why I kept my silence. Knowing that your time is short is what compelled me to venture out and leave Siohban. I wanted to live a richer and less sheltered life. Little did I know that when I left my childhood home I would find my way directly to my real home. The home of my heart. To Serenity. I fell in love with Serenity almost immediately. I fell in love with Mal almost as quickly and I knew that if there was any way I could live the remainder of my days here I would. That sounds so beautiful doesn't it? It would be nice to leave the memories all glossed over and perfect. The road to love is bumpy. Mal and I had our problems. My time away from Serenity, Mal, from all of the you was one of the most difficult of my life. When I had a second chance to stay with Serenity, well, I couldn't leave again. Once or twice I questioned this decision but Serenity wasn't just Mal. It was the ship and just as important the others living on it that made this place home. There are too many special moments to recount, to define how much I grew to love each and every one of you. My time might have been brief but it was beautiful. I was lucky to have good friends, a fine home, and a wonderful family. I will miss you all so much. Mal, you are my heart. Book, Wash, and Imala you are my most precious treasures. I will always love you. Take it easy on your Dad because he's old.”

“Told ya.” Book says looking at Wash. A brief wave of laughter crosses the room.

Zoe continues, “I want to leave you all with a small piece of advice and hope for your futures. Please remember that throughout life you will encounter many people. Some are in your life for a brief time others for a much longer one. Our journey together is over. Your individual journeys, your journey with Serenity remains. May it be full. May it be happy. May it be long.”

Zoe stops reading and a quiet hush fills the cargo bay, the group looking at her expectantly.

“According to Inara's instructions now we need to talk to Imala as we would talk to Inara if she were still alive. We are supposed to say anything we have wanted to say to Inara during this last year.”

Everyone takes turns looking at each other, unsure of what happens next.

“Is there an order we should follow?” Simon asks.

“Inara didn't say.” Zoe answers.

“I guess I'll go first. Someone has to.” Jayne says, crossing to face Inara's understudy. “We haven't always seen eye to eye on everything—like the idea of a woman piloting her own shuttle when there's a perfectly good man around to do it for her. You...all of the women around here make me question everything I was ever taught about women. Which wasn't much. We were supposed to learn by doin' in my family.” A cough can be heard coming from the pillows. “You were a good woman Inara. You and Mal were a good...couple of people. You drove Mal crazy sometimes but it was real fun to watch.” Jayne looks at the children briefly. “These here young'uns are kinda fun too.” He says with a grin. “Everyone knows how special little Imala is to me. Well, I guess I want you to know that I've been teachin' these kids good. All of 'em. Book, Wash, Imala. Emma too. Between me and River everybody will know how to protect themselves and each other. Everybody's safe. So you just have a...a...well, a peaceful death. I kinda miss you and stuff.”

“Thank you Jayne.” Jayne nods and returns to his place on the far side of the hold. Simon rises from his seat and makes his way over to Imala. “When you first called for me and told me that you were sick and that you thought your time was coming I was angry with you. First as a friend, how could you keep this from us, from Mal? How could you marry and have children knowing that you were sick? Then as your doctor. I wanted to believe that if you had told me sooner we could have found a way to make you better. Then you told me what you had. I had never heard of the disease. It took a lot of searching to find any information at all. A few pages here, an odd paragraph there. After what I learned, I could not fault you or your decision. You were born with it. It was non communicable and was rarely passed on to children. It was just one of those random illnesses a tiny number of people are born with. Everyone has a right to live a full life. It does break my heart that I lost a patient that had so much to live for. Everyone on this ship is a family. One like I have never seen before but a family nonetheless. When someone you see every day dies, life is never quite the same.” Simon smiles a little, a nervous laugh escapes him. “That's what I needed to say five minutes ago. Life isn't quite the same without you Inara. I...we miss you.”

As Simon returns to his seat Kaylee rises from hers. “You don't have to do this right now, you can wait a few minutes.” He says noticing tears in her eyes. “We said we would do this together. 'Sides this may be as close to dry eyed as I get today so I need to take my turn.” She answers walking up the aisle and stopping in front of Imala. “Hi.” Kaylee says cheerfully.

Imala nods and smiles a little.

“I cry everyday. I miss you so much. Just for a few minutes, but every day. Sometimes I walk through Serenity's rooms looking all around. Listening closely. I feel like something is wrong with the ship. Something isn't quite right. Nothing is wrong, except that you're not here. River says that you're still here. You're part of the ship in some way. She says that Wash, Book, and you are all part of the ship now. I guess in a way you are. Can I give you one last hug?” Kaylee asks.

Imala nods. “But you have to stop crying if you hug me.” She says.

“I will.” Kaylee promises, reaching out and holding Imala close. “Just as soon as I stop crying from this.”

Simon gently detaches his wife from Imala and holding her close he guides her back to her seat.


Friday, August 28, 2015 1:01 AM


thanks, needed that


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