**Author's Note: Well, hello all. I know I am supposed to be writing in Tears of Blood, and I swear I am, I am also bogged down by school work. Not to mention relatives and bombarded my house to stay over for anywhere from one week to three or four. Either way, I am trying to make time for writing, school related or not. This short story is actually for my Writer's Craft class, like my myth Fala. However, I haven't actually handed it in to her so I'm not sure if she will like it, but I do and I hope you all do too. Read, Review and Enjoy!**

Love Started with a Funeral

            Love is a beautiful, precious thing, they say and I could not agree more. Love doesn't just happen. It grows inside of you slowly until you cannot live without it, until you cannot live without that special someone. My special someone is Alec. Like most women, I hated him when I first met him, granted I was very young. Had I been told the day I met him that I would one day end up marrying him, I would have thought they were demented, but hindsight is twenty-twenty. Today, decked out in my elegant, white wedding gown waiting for the music to signal that is time for my daddy to walk me down the aisle, I will be marrying him. I will never forget this day, but I will also never forget the day I met my little Scottish warrior, either.

            "I hate him," I spat out vehemently as I wiped remnant tears from my red, blotchy eyes. I entered the backyard holding my daddy's hand. My daddy and I lived all alone. My mother died when I was real young, too young to remember her, but Daddy tells me about her all the time. He says I have her fire red hair and deep, cerulean eyes. I can tell he misses her, even though I didn't know her real well, I miss her sometimes too. I wish she was here right now. I bet she would hate Alec just as much as I did. Daddy just didn't understand.

            "You don't hate him, brat. You are just really angry with him now, but you'll come around," Daddy assured me.

            "I won't come around, Daddy!" I cried. "He killed her! She was just minding her own business and he sicced that beast of his on poor Jasmine and that beast isn't even going to get in trouble for it. I heard that if dogs attack, they are put to sleep, but that beast is still awake. Shouldn't he be sleeping, Daddy, for attacking Jasmine?"

            "Madison, honey, when they say they are putting an animal asleep, it means they are going to kill the dog. Do you really want Alec's dog killed?" he queried.

            I sighed. "I guess not, but it's still his fault."

            "Stubborn child," he muttered, good-naturedly. He really just didn't understand. I don't blame him. A lot of adults seem to have a hard time understanding simple things. So I tried to explain what happened earlier today so he would finally understand why I hated Alec and would not get over it. It all happened like this.

            "Who is he?" whispered Naomi, earlier that morning, as she huddled by my side. All the town's children played out in this field. Whitfield was a relatively small town, but it was also summer and none of us had anything better to do. There were maybe thirty or so children, all under the age of thirteen, playing on the flat grassy field. Some of them even brought their pets along. Jasmine, my cat, was wandering about on the ground so I knew there were no dogs about. If a dog was around, she would scurry up a tree and mewl until I went and got her down.

            Off to one side of the grassy field, there was a busy stretch of road so the older kids often made sure the younger ones did not play too close to the road. Off to the other side, there was a baseball diamond, but since no one was playing baseball, the diamond was littered small huddles of girls either drawing things in the ground with pointy sticks or, like me and Naomi, making sandcastles out of gravel.

            However, our forlorn castle lay forgotten as we stared across the grassy field to the metal playground set, which at one point had been painted several different colours. Over time, most of the paint had peeled off and a dull grey remained. Most of the boys had gathered around the jungle gym, while a boy that I didn't recognize, stood on the top shouting orders to them.

            The boy wore black denim shorts that matched his spiky, jet hair and a vivid green shirt which matched his piercing eyes. The bridge of his nose and his cheeks were marked by a faint smattering of freckles. He looked to be around my age, but he was taller. Like I said before, it was a fairly small town. The kind of town where nobody locked their doors and everyone knew everyone else's name and business. Yet this boy was a stranger, so I simply had to investigate.

            Myself, Naomi and some of the other girls playing in the baseball diamond left our castles and drawings to see what all the excitement was about. I tried to brush away the fine layer of gravel dust that covered me and pushed a wayward lock of hair out of my eyes. I heard the new boy raise his cardboard cut-out sword and yell, "We will start by conquering this field and getting rid of all the girls!" The other boys roared back, raising their own cut out swords in the air.

            "Hey! This is our field, too. We can play here if we want to," I shouted, with my hands fisted at my hips. "Who are you, anyway?"

            "The enemy!" the new boy shrieked. He climbed to a lower bar of the jungle gym and leapt to the ground. The group of boys parted for him as he made his way to me. He was actually glaring at us girls. "I'm Alec Kincaid."

            I smiled automatically. "I know your grandmother, Millie. She's been my babysitter since I was three years old. She makes the best cookies in the whole wide world. She says my hair is brazen. How come she never told me you were coming?"

            He ignored everything I said and asked, "Are you the leader of the girls?"

            I hesitated and looked at my friends who nodded. I stepped forward and declared that I was the leader. Alec threw the cut-out sword at my fight and declared war. I stared back at him wondering if he was demented or something. I picked it up and asked, "Why are you giving me your sword if you want to fight? Don't you need it?"

            He sighed, a heavy, laborious sigh. He snatched the sword back and stated, as if the information was common knowledge, "I threw down my weapon in front of you and then you throw yours back at me so that war is declared and we can fight."

            "But why don't I just stab you with my weapon while you throw yours down so that you die and I win the war?" I reasoned.

            "Because that's not the way it goes."

            "Says who?"

            "Says my grandfather, that's who," he snapped. "He knows because he knows everything about Scottish Highlanders and he told me lots of stories about the wars and feuds Highlanders fought. So now we are fighting," Alec explained like I was stupid. He was looking at me like I was stupid too. I didn't like that.

            "No, we're not," I protested. "I don't have a weapon and I didn't throw it down."

            He wasn't very happy about that. He grabbed my hand and put his sword in it. He moved back to his original position. "There, now throw it at my feet."

            I shook my head and he was getting real angry now. "Why not?" he roared.  "I'm Scottish and I have to feud with someone!"

            "Well, I'm English. I don't want to fight a war," I replied with a shrug and heard several murmurs of agreement behind me by some of the other girls. After all, the boys all had cut-out swords and we didn't have anything.

            Alec narrowed his eyes. He once again snatched his sword away. "Fine, forget it." He turned away and walked back to the boys and I thought, along with the rest of the girls that he was giving up his foolish thoughts of war. However, once in the middle of the circle of boys, he yelled, "They won't war with us, but we will attack them anyway. Besides, Scottish people hate English people!"

            With loud battle cries, they rushed at the unprepared girls. I was caught off guard, too. Like the rest of the girls, I ran back toward the diamond, screaming. However, once we got there, we picked up the sticks that some had been using to draw with and they became our weapons. We fought back the boys as they stomped and trampled our castles. In the middle of the battle, Alec shouted, "And now for the secret weapon, Jaws!" He picked up a whistle that had been dangling around his neck and blew on it until his face turned red.

            Within moments, loud barks were heard as a huge dog barreled toward the field. Most of the girls screamed, dropped their weapons and ran home. Some stood in terror, not knowing what to do. That was when the big beast Alec called Jaws, turned and started running toward something else entirely. "Hey! Where are you going, boy?" Alec called.

            When I saw what the beast was after, I shrieked, "Jasmine!" and ran after the dog. Poor, confused Jasmine didn't see the dog coming until it was too late to seek refuge in the trees. Instead, she ran madly away from the beast in any which direction while the dog continued to chase her, happily wagging his tail. I chased the dog and I think, Alec had been chasing me. Without thinking, my poor kitty streaked towards home which was across the busy street. The pickup truck that hit her tried to swerve, but failed and Jasmine was dead before she landed on the ground.

            Harold Atwater, driver of the pickup truck, was going to work and was a friend of my daddy's. He caught me before I could run to Jasmine, who was all red and squished looking. He rocked me back and forth while I cried. Alec stood on the side of the road, clutching Jaws' collar. He wasn't smiling when I looked up at him and his face had gone all white. "It's wasn't my fault," he cried and added, "or my dog's fault." With that said, he ran away.

            Even with the explanation, Daddy didn't get it. He told me that Alec had probably thought deep down that it was his fault and got scared. That was why he said what he said and ran away. He said that made perfect sense, but it didn't to me. In the backyard, a lot of people had gathered for Jasmine's funeral. Naomi and some of the other girls were there, Harold was there, even though he had to go to work, on account of he felt bad and even Millie was there. I felt a bit happier because everyone who Jasmine had loved was there, but then I heard a dog bark and gaped at Alec, who hovered besides Millie. He had brought the beast.

            My face turned bright red like it always does when I am really mad. "What are you do you think you are doing bringing him here?"

            Jaws was on a leash and Alec clutched it tighter. "He didn't do anything!"

            "He chased Jasmine on the road!" I yelled.

            His face was turning red, too. "All dogs chase cats! Normal cats run up trees. It's not my fault your stupid cat decided to run in front of a pickup truck."

            I saw the look of shock on his face when I burst into tears and ran out of the yard. I ran to the front of my house where there was a white, wooden bench swing on the large porch. I threw myself on the swing and sobbed uncontrollably. Jasmine had been my cat since I was four years old and Daddy had brought her home when she was a kitten. He had told me she was my responsibility and now she was dead.

            Someone came out of the house and sat down on the part of the swing that I wasn't sprawled upon. When I was done crying, I looked up to see Alec. I began to get angry again, but then I looked at him, really looked at him. His face was pasty white again and he wasn't looking at me. He didn't look angry. He looked scared. Thinking back to what Daddy said, I asked him, "Alec, do you feel deep down it was your fault?"

            "It wasn't my fault," he ground out, still looking straight ahead.

            I frowned at him. I knew Daddy was wrong. He still looked funny, though. I sat up straighter and stared ahead too, but I peeked at him every once and awhile. At least he hadn't brought that stupid dog with him, I thought and then I begin to think about Jasmine again. My lower lip began to tremble and tears filled my eyes. I was going to miss Jasmine. Now I was going to have to miss my mother and Jasmine.

            "Don't," Alec ordered tightly. I blinked and stared at him. He slowly turned his head to look at me. "Don't cry," he begged, earnestly.

            I kept looking at him, even though he went back to looking ahead. Slowly things began to make sense. "You don't like it when people cry? That is why you turn all white and look scared."

            "I'm not scared of anything," Alec boasted. In a quieter voice, he said, "I just don't like when girls cry because of me and you've cried three times. So now you have to stop crying. Never do it again, okay?"

            "No, it's not okay. I can cry when I want to."

            "Not when I'm there," he persisted.

            I glared at him. "So if I fall down and hurt myself, I can't cry because you are there and you don't like it?"

            He relaxed and even smiled. "See, you get it."

            I shook my head at him and thought he really was demented. That's when something struck me. "You said I was crying because of you."

            "So?"

            "Then you admit that it was kind of your fault and your dogs fault that Jasmine died," I stated, knowing I was right.

            "No, I was just saying-"

            "That you felt bad, that's all. You can just say sorry."

            "Madison," he growled, angry again. Then all of a sudden he looked sad again. "You're right. It's kind of Jaws fault for chasing Jasmine and kind of my fault for bringing Jaws, but only kind of!"

            I waited for a bit, but he didn't say anymore. Frustrated, I prompted, "And?"

            "And I'm sorry! There, I said it. Happy?" he demanded.

            I slowly smiled at him. "Kind of." He slowly smiled back and we walked back to finish Jasmine's funeral. Daddy and Harold dug up a nice hole and I placed the shoebox Jasmine was in down into the hole. We all took turns throwing a bunch of dirt on the box and Daddy and Harold finished the job with their shovels. The rest of us drank juice and Millie's cookies which were best in the world.

            Love has many ways of flourishing. Love sometimes starts with friendship or sometimes starts with chance encounters. Love has an endless number of beginnings. My love started with a funeral. The band struck the first chords of the Wedding March and the guests all rose as I slowly made my way down the aisle. I smiled up at my daddy, I smiled to Millie, who was up at the front, and Naomi, who was my maid of honour, but mostly, I only had eyes for my warrior garbed in a black, fitted Armani tuxedo. Tears kept my eyes moist as my father handed me over to Alec. His eyes were also focused on me. Standing in front of him, I awaited for him to say something, probably something about how breathtakingly beautiful I look. Instead, he whispered, "Don't cry."

**Well, there we go. I think it's short and sweet. Others might not agree. Anyways, I would have probably made it longer, but damn teacher has page restrictions and word limits. It's a pain in the ass. This one is supposed to be around 1200-1500 words and at the most, six pages. However, it's roughly around 2500 words and seven pages long. Maybe she won't be able to count. Here's to hoping! Please review and let me know about any changes I should make before handing it in. Thanks a lot, love you all. Flawless Storm.**