There were two types of mourning. There was the type when a person opened up his heart to the world, never taking anything for granted, and lived each day to the fullest. Then there was the type of mourning where a person closed off his heart to the world and lived in his own world, unable to connect to others.
I definitely wasn’t the first option.
I swallowed hard. “You should practice the chords to Ever Gone. It seemed a little off when we played it last time.” I glanced at my watch. “I’ll be back in a few.”
I started toward the boat shed in a slow run, but it didn’t take long for me to pick up speed.
After my runs, I always ended up back at the same location—on the dock, staring at the spot where the worst moment of my life happened. I scrubbed my arms so many times. I was surprised my skin hadn’t ripped off. Bending my knees, I lowered myself and stared toward the grass.
I wished I could forget.
I wished I could forget.
I wish I could f**king forget!
But instead, I closed my eyes, inhaled deep, and I remembered.
We arrived at the hospital, but Mom was gone before she’d even made it into the ambulance. Jace was bandaged up, his eye was given a few stitches, but he was alive. Bullshit, if you asked me. He’d just had our mom murdered, but all he’d received were a few stitches.
He sat down in the waiting room as Dad spoke with a few police officers. He hadn’t stopped crying the whole time. I’d never in my life seen Dad cry, not even after he’d found out about his health condition.
I moved over to Jace and he stood up. We didn’t say anything. The back of my throat was dry, scratchy. He pulled me into a hug. “I’m going to find out who did this, Danny. I swear to God, they won’t get away with it.”
I held him tight in my arms and nodded. “I know, Jace.”
“This is my fault. But I promise you, I’ll make it right.”
My hands wrapped around my kid brother’s head, and I placed my forehead against his. “I’m sorry, Jace…” I muttered before he pulled away from me, looking confused.
“What?” he asked before he turned around and saw the cops marching toward him.
One of the police officers took his hands and handcuffed him. I listened to the officer read Jace his rights. It all became a blur as they carried him off for drug dealing—evidence they had collected from me earlier. Jace looked at me with confusion, but then he came to realize what was happening and screamed.
“You ratted me out?! Our mom just died, Danny! Mom is dead!” he screamed, his face turning red. “I’m your brother!” His voice was cracking, but his screams were still high. “You’re a rat! Mom is dead and you’re having me locked up!”
His voice echoed down the halls.
His voice echoed into my soul.
Memories were scary, how they could break you with simply your own thoughts.
I blinked and turned away from staring at the spot where Mom died. The hot sun was beating down against my skin. Moving to the edge of the dock, I removed my running shoes and my socks. My feet fell into the cool water and I lay back on the wooden, squeaky dock.
I planned to fix up the dock sometime soon. I planned to fix up the whole house, actually. I just didn’t know how Dad and Mom would’ve wanted it.
I hadn’t really allowed my brain to deal with Dad’s death yet—I was still somewhat in shock by Mom’s. No matter what, no matter how many times you’d dealt with it, death never grew easier.
There was no one I could truly talk to about it. My friends wouldn’t understand even if I tried to explain. Plus, I didn’t want to make them feel as shitty as I felt on a daily basis.
But there had been one moment when I saw someone who might understand, based solely on her eyes. Her eyes were surreal, haunting even. Green, powerful eyes that looked so sad. Broken. Beautiful.
My eyes shut, and I imagined her—the girl from the train. My muscles twitched from my run, and I took deep breaths, trying to remember everything about her. She knew what it was like to be me—lost, alone. I had seen it each time she’d blinked her eyes and her thick, long eyelashes hung low.
I should’ve asked for her name. I should’ve sat on top of my luggage beside her. She’d smiled when I’d quoted Shakespeare, but there was still a bit of sadness lingering in the curves of her lips. She was pained by some type of grief, and I had seen it eating her alive—the same way my sadness was tearing me apart. And nothing or nobody could stop it from happening.
A part of me didn’t want it to stop. A part of me thought I deserved the suffering. But for the life of me, I couldn’t believe that that girl deserved to be so sad. I secretly hoped that someday someone could make her smile without the frown lines.
I hoped someday she would be all right.
Touch me when you’re gone.
Leave me when you’re near.
Love me with my shattered pieces.
~ Romeo’s Quest
The next few days, I did my best to keep to myself. I didn’t talk a lot, but I allowed my mind to keep running on that dang treadmill in my head. It turned out that Henry’s family loved to eat dinner together every night, and I thought it was nice of them to invite me to eat with them.
But I knew I didn’t fit in with their table for four. Rebecca pulled out a folding chair from their storage room for me to sit on. There was a metal piece on the seat that pushed into my left thigh, but I didn’t complain.
Rebecca cooked a lot of food. Enough to feed an army. As we sat down, I went to dig into my food and Rebecca held her hand up. “Sweetie, we pray over the food first.” She gave me a kind smile, but I could see a bit of disappointment that I didn’t even think of doing so. “Henry, can you lead it again?”