This is a chapter from the 2010 first draft of a WIP. It was always one of my favorite chapters, but since the story is under a MAJOR (like 80%+) revamp, this has ended up on the cutting room floor. I thought I'd share it since I haven't posted a WIP tidbit in a while. Obviously this is unedited by a professional so please excuse any misspellings or grammatical mistakes. Feel free to leave me any comments or questions. Other than that, enjoy!
The weather was better than anyone could have asked for, the day of Patty Ritman’s funeral. The sun shone brilliantly on this Thursday morning, providing a perfect, pleasant warmth. The sky was robin’s egg blue and spotted with fluffy clouds.
The site of her burial, Wolfland Meadows, the nicest of the two cemeteries Wolflarret held, was filled with about twenty people all dressed in dark colors. They were seated side-by-side, in four of the five rows set out. The last row of uncomfortable aluminum fold-out chairs sat empty. With the exception of the first row, in which Mina, her Dad, Lee, and her mother’s parents sat, the remaining rows were occupied with relatives and friends.
Mina, who was trying her hardest not to cry as the preacher from their church spoke, had tried to avoid most anyone and everyone over the past week for fear that they’d try to tell her how sorry they were for her loss. She wasn’t sure if she would be able to maintain her composure if they did, fearing that she’d just break down . But despite what she wanted, Mina had been forced out of kindness to listen to each person that had arrived for the funeral apologize for the death of the “always so kind”, “incredibly loving”, “marvelous woman” Mina had called Mom.
A few of her mother’s friends from work had shown up to the wake the day before--the funeral parlor had been able to masterfully make her mother’s corpse beautiful again, using techniques Mina had no heart to know about to take away the horrid sunken appearance of her eyes and face, and smooth out the many wrinkles that had made her mother’s face look like a crumpled piece of paper--though only two had turned up today for the funeral.
And finally, in the row next to last, apart from the rest of the crowd, Ray Jones sat attentively watching the “show”, as Mina had come to call it, for more than half of the people that had volunteered to speak about her mother, knew, she felt, next to nothing about the woman she had considered one of her dearest friends. Of course Mina didn’t voice her opinions, but sat silently in the tearful, sad presences of the crowd of mourners.
Despite her awry mood, Mina was actually very appreciative that this many people had come to pay her mother their last respects.
The preacher’s kind, heartfelt words were tearjerkers for most of the people, Mina noticed. They even had her on the edge of crying. But she felt that as a murderer she shouldn’t cry over her victims.
Mina hadn’t had any more nightmares since the last one, which ended up somehow killing her mother. She attributed the fact that she hadn’t dreamt anymore to the fact that no one else, with that one time exception of Ray, had fallen asleep with her. For it was then, as with Amber and her mom, that they were somehow murdered in their sleep and their appearance changed into the resemblance of the corpse-creature from her dreams. She had absolutely no explanation for how or why it happened, but felt a guilt about it so extreme that she could hardly look herself in the eye anymore. Mina ate less and less, and had taken to just laying in her bed, covered up and hidden from the world, wallowing in despair and self-pity, trying not to interact more than necessary with anyone.
There were only two people she would come out of her shell for: her father and Ray. Her father because he was in almost the same shape as she; always on the verge of breaking down, looking more and more frail and weak and eating almost less than she. He hadn’t been to work since his wife’s death, using his saved up sick days instead. Her father’s condition only made Mina more self-conscious that her mother’s death was her fault, though no one could prove it.
As for Ray, well he was the only one she could lean on for support--and because they had somehow fallen asleep together and he hadn’t died. Ray was her knight in shining armor come to rescue the sickly princess who felt and looked like she was on the brink of death--and she could never have asked for anything that could compare to the treatment Ray had given her the past couple of days. He had been over to her house everyday leading up to this one, spending time with her, talking enough for the both of them, saving her the trouble. She learned why he had been suspended from school for a week, how long he’d been wanting to ask her out, and information all about his life. In those hours that they spent together, she came to care more about him than she thought she ever could in her young age. What she felt went beyond a simple crush…and into the territory of love.
The preacher finished. Her father stood up and made his way to the podium in front of them all. Mina listened as he spoke, his voice wavering every once in a while as he talked about the woman who’d been the love of his life for the past twenty-eight years. Five more people spoke after he did, and even though his speech lasted less than ten minutes, not one of them could match the passion in his voice as he talked about the wonderful woman who’d given him the three blessings of his life: Mina, Lee, and herself for him to love unconditionally.
His words were incredibly touching.
Time went by and finally everyone finished speaking. Mina’s father, two of her uncles, two of her older cousins, and Lee, who had insisted that he be able to help, carried the beautifully intricate casket that held her mother to the hole in which she would be buried and lay forever. The spot, which was at the edge of the cemetery and in the shade of the surrounding trees, was one that they’d owned for a while. There was a large space of green, freshly cut grass separating Mina’s mother’s grave and the next one down; the space was her father’s already purchased burial spot.
The casket was loaded onto the system that would slowly lower it into the earth. As it went down, the preacher said a few final words…and then it was over.
Gradually, no one really wanting to be the first to leave, the crowd began to disperse. Soon only Mina, Lee, Ray, and her Dad were left.
Ray was waiting patiently off to the side, Mina noticed, just giving her space until she felt like approaching. Mina gave her father a long hug and a kiss on the cheek, and then made her way over to Ray. He was dressed handsomely in an expensive looking suit. He was even wearing a tie. Mina herself had been told that she looked extremely lovely in a dark blue dress that was split down the back, ran to her her ankles, and fit her figure with perfection. It was the dress that her Mom had bought her for Amber’s funeral which she had never been given a chance to go to. Her long dark hair was down and fell past her shoulders, though now it blew into her face with a sudden gust of wind.
Mina swept it away as she stopped in front of Ray. He gave her a soft, caring, and yet still sad smile. She tried to return one, but failed. Mina didn’t know what to say and unconsciously bit her lower lip. Ray, seeming to understand that she was having trouble thinking of something to say, spoke instead.
“I don’t know what I could say that you haven’t already heard.” Mina met his eye and listened. Ray sighed. “If I spoke about something other than your Mom, then it would be really rude, but if I speak to you about your Mom, then it’ll just be the same stuff I’m sure you’re tired of hearing.” Mina nodded.
“I understand. But honestly I don’t care if you talk about something other than…my Mom,” she said, finishing the last part in a whisper while diverting her eyes. Her heart throbbed and suddenly she felt weak in the knees. Oh God, not here!
“But I would care,” Ray said softly. Mina nodded again, closing her eyes and taking a breath to try and regain her composure. Silence filled their lack of communication. Then Ray said, “Would you like to just walk for a bit?” Mina looked back up at him and nodded. She extended her hand and he took it.
They walked, neither talking, but just taking in the scenery of the well-tended plots of the cemetery. Not very romantic, but it was still comforting to her to just be with Ray. They circled the place and eventually made it back to where they had started off. Mina glanced toward her Dad who was now standing alone. Where Lee was, she wasn’t sure. She turned back to see Ray looking at her, that caring, sad smile on his face again.
“I think you should go and be with your family today, Mina” he said, ever so kind and polite. Mina started to nod, but instead acted on impulse and threw her arms around him and just allowed Ray to hold her for a minute that seemed to stretch on and on. She wanted so much to tell him that she loved him, but knew it wasn’t the right time. Too soon, Ray ended the embrace. He bent down slowly and kissed her softly on the lips.
Mina couldn’t keep silent much longer. “Thank you, Ray,” she said, biting her lower lip. “Thank you for everything. I…I…” She stopped what she was trying to say when Ray slowly shook his head.
“You don’t have to say anything, Mina. I know.” He gave her hand a final affectionate squeeze and then said, “I’ll see you tomorrow, Mina.” She nodded, appreciating that he had come since she knew that he had to work today and, unless he hurried, might be late. She watched as he turned and walked away from her.
A few minutes later Mina turned and went back to her Dad, wrapping an arm around him as she did. He looked down at her, his eyes red and his cheeks wet. She leaned her head into his side as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders. After a couple of minutes Mina broke the semi-hug and asked her father where Lee was. He shook his head and said in a tired voice, “I don’t know. One minute he was here, the next he wasn’t. But if you’d please go get him…then we can leave.” Mina said okay and then left her Dad still staring down at the wooden casing that held the body of his wife.
It didn’t take Mina long before she found her brother sitting behind a huge marble headstone. He had his head leaned back and his eyes closed, his knees upright, his hands on them. She quietly sat down beside him and looked at her brother. The slight wind ruffled Lee’s hair, but he didn’t wipe at it. Painful thoughts tried to impress themselves on her, but Mina forced them away and just sat watching her younger brother. They hadn’t spoken at all since the night of their mother’s death. It seemed like whenever they came within the vicinity of each other he would abruptly leave. It pained her to think that for some reason Lee was avoiding her, but if he was, then there wasn’t anything she would do about it.
Mina gently tapped his hand and called his name. “Lee.” Lee opened his eyes and settled them on his sister sitting so close to him.
His eyes widened in surprise before quickly narrowing. His voice sounded hoarse as he croaked out, “Why are you touching me?” Mina, taken back by the tone of what sounded like poorly restrained disgust, stuttered around telling him what she was supposed to.
“D-Dad wanted me to come find you and tell you that we’re about to--” Lee shoved the hand that had still been atop of his away as if it were something repulsive. Startled, Mina met his gaze and became scared. His eyes shone with repugnance.
“I don’t want you to ever touch me again. Got it?” he growled. Mina didn’t respond, which appeared to have been the wrong thing. “Got it?” Lee practically screamed. Mina fell away from him in fear. Her hands flew down behind her for support. She could feel tears welling up. Why’s he acting like this? As if he couldn’t stop, Lee continued with his sudden outburst. “No one else may think it, but I know. It’s your fault Mom and Amber are dead!” Mina suddenly felt choked up and found it hard to breathe as she listened to his unexpected ranting. “I don’t know how you did it or why, but I don’t even care. You’re some kind of…monster!” The same guilt that she’d been feeling for days rose up within her, but now it was worse than ever.
Lee jumped up and backed away from her. “And I’ll tell you now, if you ever touch me again I will leave this family; run away and never look back! The only reason I’m still here is for Dad and that’s it. I could care less about you!” He spat out his final word and then sharply turned away, leaving her feeling helpless and loathing everything about herself.
Mina could no longer control her tears, and so allowed them to unleash.
She wept in the once place in Wolflarret where more crying had probably been done than she’d ever come close to in her life, though with the way Lee had just made her feel, it didn’t seem like she would ever stop trying to take the lead.