The funerals for Matt Stanton and Richard Bickson took place, among those of the 113 people that were killed in the tragic incident at Wayward Angel, were held later on that week. The official verdict was that Matt, in a gesture of furious love, had stolen the helicopter from the hospital and recruited his friend to drive it.
The suicide attack brought mixed reactions on both sides. Some thought that the boys should be disgraced as maniacs; others thought that they should be honored as heroes. But the issue never really gained the town-dividing fire that the mental patient one had. Perhaps Jazzmin's malevolent influence had been at work there, where it wasn't now.
Either way, it did not matter to Hayley Madison. When her parents frantically called the house that night, she was downstairs playing Halo 3 and played the part of having no idea what had gone on.
She felt bad for Richard, who she still believed she had killed, along with all of those who died that night. She did not attend Richard and Matt's funerals, but she did go to Rachel's. Rachel had been an innocent victim of the war between the forces of good and evil, and she deserved the pretty burial she received.
"Maybe that poor girl's death can put a cap on all of this" Leon Coburn said, dressed in his dark suit at the service. Hayley's stepfather wore a cast on his left arm where he'd broken it being knocked down by the shockwave from the explosion. He wasn't complaining though; he knew how lucky he had been. A man standing only a few feet from him had been cut in half by a piece of spinning propeller blades.
Hayley continued on with her life. Her grades were still less than what Katrina wanted them to be, but they were showing signs of improvement. Other things were improving too. Bobby was released from Wayward Angel. The diagnosis was that he had suffered a temporary nervous breakdown and was to be under observation, but he was ok. He did not remember anything about his stay there. His memories had faded very quickly. But he did remember the promise he made to Hayley.
On June 1st, 2008 Bobby Paine asked Hayley Madison if she would go with him to the movies. She said that she was delighted, and by the time it had started, neither was paying attention, only staring into each other's eyes.
As they left and went to Bobby's father's car, Bobby kissed her, and nuzzled his face into her long red hair. "My Father is pleased" he whispered.
Hayley at first did not know how to respond to that. Well of course Chief Paine would be pleased that his son was getting a date, but…but what Bobby was saying seemed to have more meaning than that. And she guessed that Bobby didn't know either.
What meaning it did have, she couldn't think of. In fact, two weeks after the incident at Wayward Angel, Hayley knew that she had experienced something awful and wonderful…but she did not remember what it was. There had been a little woman involved hadn't there? What was her name…Pippin? No…Pipe? No, she couldn't think of it…
School let out and summer vacation came. Angela Rodriguez, still grieving over her brother's death and now stricken by her father's spontaneous decapitation at the protest, committed suicide, as did Dr. Paul Stanton.
It was mourned, but the dead were buried and the town moved on with its life. In truth, Angela was mourned more by her family than Dr. Stanton was by his remaining friends. Some of it was because of the role is son had played in the Wayward Angel disaster, but it was mostly because Stanton had been arrogant and removed from everyone, including his son and ex-wife.
The next year was Junior Year. Hayley and her classmates moved up on the totem pole. With Rachel and Angela gone, the girls seemed to notice Hayley much more than they had earlier. On September 7th, she was asked to join the girl's cheerleading squad and did so without looking back. She then started to draw her superheroes on the side. Katrina and Hayley still argued about college and the occasional suspicion that Hayley was smoking weed.
She did occasionally smoke it now, but Katrina had been very wrong to suspect it back then…when? Hayley didn't remember when their first argument about it was. Oh well. Hayley had many friends now and Bobby was her boyfriend. She still found time to go with Jeremy and Serena and her Junior Year life plodded along at an unremarkable pace. Her grades improved and the heat at home grew less.
Then, around Spring Break, Leon had a heart attack. It was not fatal, but it did disable him for several months. After he had recovered, he insisted that the whole family begin to exercise, a routine Katrina embraced wholeheartedly. Personally, Hayley thought that her mother was just happy that he was still alive.
The summer months came and Hayley and Katrina had just one more big fight about college that ended with Hayley almost running away from home. She was brought home by the police. Unfortunately they happened to find a large amount of marijuana in her backpack.
Hayley was tried and sentenced to 100 hours of community service as a minor, being seventeen years old. After this, Katrina and Leon dispelled many of Hayley's new friends. So soon it was just down to Jeremy and Serena and several other kids who stayed around. And Bobby. Always Bobby forever.
After this, Hayley began having strange dreams. They were very rare, but extremely vivid and real. She would dream that she was walking down Main Street, and all the people would be surrounded by envelopes of white fire. It's the auras she would think when she awoke from these dreams. It's the auras of life. But these thoughts would quickly become swallowed in the morass of everyday life and it was only when the dreams actually came around that she even thought of the auras.
Summer came and went. Hayley finally relented on the college issue and began to search for what was one she would like. In Senior Year she began to embrace the idea that she was going to college. By the time that the guidance counselors were talking about college applications, Hayley had already been accepted into a small art college in Tennessee. She wept with happiness when she saw the acceptance letter.
"Oh Hayley! I KNEW YOU COULD DO IT!" Katrina wept and swept her daughter up in her arms. Hayley thought she saw, for an instant, an aura of white light around her mother. But it was just the kitchen lights reflected in the tears of her own eyes…wasn't it?
Summer vacation began to creep around the corner and Bobby and Hayley broke up. There was no big fight. No real screaming and yelling. The two of them just were not happy with each other and decided that they would try to find other people before they did have a fight and it ruined their friendship. Hayley then went out with Jeremy for a while and even went to the Senior Prom with him. With her red hair and her dazzling blue dress, Katrina said she wished Mark could have seen her.
Just an average teenage life, the winding down of childhood, the slow cruise toward adulthood and the real world. Not always pleasant, but in its ways it is always an adventure, never knowing what will happen next. Hayley maintained her friendships with Jeremy and Serena, but most of all Bobby was her best friend. Though they did not date anymore, they held no secrets from each other and they visited each other a lot. Bobby's dad got divorced from his wife, after what he called "years of misery" and that was that. Bobby cried and Hayley held him, just as he had with her when Leon had suffered his heart attack.
Just life, Short life, moving on and on down the river and winding…down? Yes, winding down, because one day, on May 2nd, 2010 Hayley awoke at 4:24 in the morning, staring wide awake at the ceiling. She wondered what had woken her up. It had certainly not been any dream that she had experienced, and it had not been any pain. So what had jarred her from her sleep? She sat up until the sun shone through her curtains and Katrina called her for breakfast, having a mental debate with herself about what had awakened her.
You know what it is, Hayley.
No I don't.
Oh yes, yes you do. Listen.
So she listened. She listened very carefully and, after a few minutes of sitting in her sunlit room with the sounds of Katrina banging pots and pans below, she heard it very clearly. The sound of a clock ticking. Except that sound was not the sound of a clock. It was the sound of her life whittling away.
She felt none of the terror she had felt when she thought that Leon was going to die. She tired more easily and found it difficult to concentrate in school…and of course it was, anyone would find it hard to concentrate with the sound of their own life winding down in their ears. She did not tell her parents or even Bobby about this. They would think her insane and send her to Wayward Angel, and she did not want to live out her last bit of life in an insane asylum, which was what it was, all disguises laid aside.
She awoke one morning at 3:01 at the sound of the death-song. Come Hayley, come, journey's nearly done! That journey was life and yes, for her it was nearly over. Something else throbbed along her side and stomach. It's the wounds she thought. I'm feeling the wounds of the knife in the Punisher. Yet how was that possible? She hadn't even been in the area when the helicopter crashed in the parking lot. If she had been in the chopper, she wouldn't even be here thinking these ridiculous thoughts. Yet she knew beyond a doubt that this was what was happening. Yet when she pulled up her tank-top that she slept in, there were no injuries at all.
On May 9th Bobby went over to Hayley's house and the two of them played video games, ate Cheetos and drank soda. As he was leaving, Bobby looked at her strangely. "Are you alright?" he asked. "You've been so strange lately. So silent and you look really pale. Have you been sleeping well?" he looked her over. "Take care of yourself. We don't want to lose you before graduation!"
"Yeah, I'm fine" Hayley had said flippantly. She looked at Bobby and thought suddenly, yes, but we can't lose you. You're special Bobby, more special than you think. But how did she know he was special? Because…because he was in danger once. He was going to be killed and…and…And what? What had happened that she had saved him? She was going to ask, but Bobby had left by then and she did not want to bring it up again.
By May 12th the ticking almost seemed to have gained a voice. It said Puppet, Puppet, Puppet.
I know that name.
Do you, Hayley?
Yes…He was the dog puppet one, the one who takes people to whatever lies on the other side of Death. He's the father of all the Heirs of Puppet, down to Bobby. And I seem to have some date with Him. She had grown used to these silent conversations with herself and she seemed to have them almost more than she had with real people.
What date is that?
Of this she was not sure. She only knew that she and Puppet had some unfinished business to carry out, and it seemed that the interruption had to do with Bobby, who was now going to Yale law to become a lawyer. Just like she was going to college to become a professional artist. Or so everyone thought she was going to…
Soon now. Very soon.
On May 13th Hayley Sherazade Madison began to see the auras again. They were faint at first, but then she clearly saw the shrouds of white (or violet) fire that encircled people, telling their lives time.
As May slipped into its later days, Hayley found herself bursting into tears often. At first she thought it was just her time of the month, but then it began to happen more and more frequently. It was very odd. She had no sense of depression or even overall discontent, but sometimes she would see something or someone--a child licking an ice-cream talking to his mother, or a bird flying alone against the sky—and she would just feel the waterworks begin.
That's because it's almost over an inside voice whispered to her on one of these occasions. She was sitting outside in her backyard reading a Teen Vogue magazine. "Okay then" Hayley muttered back to it. "Then if it is, then tell me why it's almost over, for God's sake."
There was no answer.
She began to take long walks (or drives in the cases when Katrina or Leon would let her use their cars) to her favorite spots around Satire. She spent time at these places and just watched them or sometimes went around in them. Saying goodbye to them. Because it's almost here she thought. The time of my date with Puppet is almost here. The only place she avoided was Roadside Park, and that was odd. It was not that she consciously avoided it; it was more that she just kept finding other things to do. She did not know why. She had been going there since she had been born. It was one of her favorite places to be and she still did not go there anymore. And it was not just now; she had not gone to Roadside Park since…since…
And then all the pieces fell together. The park. The skateboard ramp. Bobby's grinding move. The police car reading Satire Municipal Police. The way it shone in the sunlight as it hit—
"Oh my Christ" Hayley whispered and she almost slammed into another driver on the road.
On May 29th, 2010, Hayley woke up at 7:26 P.M and knew that the day of her date with Puppet had finally come.
"Mom" Hayley says to Katrina who is making eggs at the table. "I think I'll go over to Bobby's and then we'll get some ice cream." Her heart is thudding hard and fast and her hands are covered with sweat.
"Fine" Katrina says, not looking over her shoulder. Had she been looking, she would have noticed that her daughter is pale as death and shaking. But she doesn't. "Just be back before noon. I don't want to have to come looking for you. You're eighteen years old Hayley."
Hayley hugs her mother suddenly, startling her. "I love you, Mom" Hayley says, willing herself not to start crying. "I love you so fucking much."
Katrina smiles softly and pats her daughter's head. "Well, I don't know if there's a need to swear, but I love you too, my Hayles."
Hayley goes outside and steps down the steps of her house. She stands there for a while, looking at the white house and then wipes a tear from her eye. She forces herself to walk on. She had dressed the same way she did on That Day, when the accident happened: camouflage t-shirt and gray jeans with black and white checkered slip-ons. She hates slip-ons; they hurt her feet, but she doesn't care. If she's going to meet Death in the face, she wants to dress the way she did at the time she encountered it. She can hear and feel the death-song rising in her head, only its verse is now limited to a single word.
Come! Come! Come! it calls.
Hayley knocks on Bobby's door and a tousle headed Bobby Paine opens the door. Bobby has changed throughout the years; his retainer is gone and he is far more neatly groomed than he was when we last saw him. He still looks predatory, but it is a handsome kind. Though Hayley can see his radiant copper-colored aura, the death-song does not weaken her the way it did before. It is because she is coming to it willingly and there is no need for aggression.
"So" Hayley says, pasting a smile on her face, "Want to come out of your cave and h-have some ice-cream with me? I'm going to go to Roadside Park. It's the place where they have the best ice-cream stands in town!"
Bobby looks at Hayley for a long time, and then he nods. "Okay! Just let me get my skateboard!" he runs back in the house and Hayley waits for him. Then he comes out with the board slung under his arm.
Amazing how it all comes back around Hayley thinks and they set off. As they walk down the street. Hayley can feel herself being pulled forward toward the park as if it is a giant magnet and she is a metal piece. She walks briskly, almost enjoying the tug. It reminds her of standing in the ocean when she was a little girl, feeling the steady pull and ebb of the tide around her legs. Now there is only the pull and she goes with it.
"Hayley!" she turns around and realizes that she has left Bobby behind. She slows her stride toward Roadside Park only by a little to allow him to catch up. She has to get to the park, she has to or she'll miss…whatever is supposed to happen there.
"Why are you going so fast?" Bobby asks, a smile breaking over his face. "You want ice cream that badly--" the look freezes on his face as he looks her over. "Why are you dressed like this, Hayley?" he asks. "I don't know why I don't like it…" realization dawns in his eyes. "I know…it makes me think of when you got hit by the car two years ago. When you almost died--"
"I did die Bobby" Hayley says.
At first her best friend looks at her with total incomprehension. Then he laughs. "Oh, oh, that's a good one Hayley. Please, don't talk like that. If you had died, then I don't know what I would have done--"
"You would have died too," Hayley says, picking up speed again. She can hear the death-song's words in her mind and they are now growing louder. She walks faster, now almost jogging. "You would have died if I hadn't crashed the helicopter that crazy Matt Stanton was going to use to slam into Wayward Angel."
"Hayley, what are you talking about—slow down!" Bobby cries.
"I can't" Hayley says. "I have no choice. I have to get to the park quick."
"Why? What's going on, tell me!" he says. His copper aura begins to swirl with confusion and perplexity. Hayley leans forward and whispers what she is going to do in his ear. Bobby's eyes widen and he backs away from her.
"No! You can't!" he shakes his head no. "I can't believe you! How did this…how did this…?" Hayley grabs his wrist and concentrates.
"Listen to my thoughts Bobby and see what I experienced and what happened…" Hayley says. She sees a length of violet fire run down her arm and into Bobby's where it is quickly diffused by his copper aura.
Bobby's eyes open wide and his mouth sags open in surprise…in understanding. In remembering. He recalls everything about two years ago, about himself and about the threat to him. "I remember…the auras…and Her. You saved me, Hayley and my Father was very pleased." Bobby's eyes fill with tears. "Hayley…Hayley, please, don't do this to me. To us." Hayley does not stop walking and his voice grows desperate. He grabs her arm and spins her around to face him. "Hayley, listen, I'll beg Him, I'll plead with Puppet if that doesn't work. He's the father of my line; He'll have to listen to me! I won't let Him take you!"
"He won't listen to you, Bobby" Hayley says, as calmly as she can. The words of the death-song, come, come, come had become, come! Come! Come! Now they have become COME…COME…COME…COME…HAYLEY, COME TO ME. She cannot resist that call. She will go to Roadside Park and no power on Earth will be able to stop her. "He'll only say that He'll do like he was made to do. Piper tried to plead my case and He ignored her too. He would have taken me if that Voice hadn't demanded that he not."
"Whose voice?" Bobby asks. "Another god?"
Hayley shakes her head and begins inching down the sidewalk. "I don't think so. I don't think another god would have asked Him that, and I don't think Puppet would have listened anyway. The Voice was…I don't remember. Piper explained, but I can't really remember all of what she said."
Bobby tightens his grip on Hayley arm. His fingernails—which he still does not seem to cut—dig deeply into her flesh. "I won't let you go. I'll sit on you until the time passes and then we won't hear anymore of Him for a while. God or not, Father or not, I won't let Him take my best friend."
"Bobby, please calm down" Hayley starts, but gets no further.
"DON'T YOU TELL ME TO 'CALM DOWN!" Bobby rages. "I WON'T LOSE YOU AGAIN! I…I LOVE YOU HAYLEY MADISON!" Hayley expects people walking around them to turn and stare, but they do not notice them at all.
It's because we're not exactly in mortal reality Hayley's mind whispers, but this is not paid any attention to by her conscious thoughts and so goes unheard. "I love you too" she says, and feels the first tears trickling down her face. "When we were together…I was so happy with you." She gently removes his hand from her arm. "But I have to go. See?" she points to where Bobby's nails have broken the skin along her arm. Instead of blood, violet colored mist is leaking upward in slow contrails from the wounds. "My time has already passed on this world. I don't belong anymore."
"Well, don't you sound wise and Yoda-like" Bobby says bitterly. "You sound like you've made you peace with this all. What about your mother? What about Leon? What about everyone else? Have you said goodbye to Captain America and Superman yet?" he knows he is being cruel, and wants to punch himself in this face, but he can't help it. His grief…no this is beyond simple grief.
"I made my goodbyes to all of these things" Hayley says. The call has now become COME! COME! COME! COME NOW HAYLEY COME NOW HAYLEY!
"I can't stay anymore, Bobby" and then she runs down the walk to Roadside Park.
Katrina Madison is frying the eggs in the pan, when she stops suddenly. She thinks about Hayley and how her daughter hugged her when she left for the park and for Bobby. God, it seems as if her daughter's childhood has breezed by. She remembers looking at that little red-headed bundle in the hospital basinet. She thinks of Mark's joy and hers as well. My Hayley. My only daughter, my only child.
What will Hayley think of her when she is out in Tennessee at college? Will she visit back home often? Will she—
Then her thoughts are pieced by a spear of mental light so strong that she at first believes she is having a stroke of some kind. Then words and coherent thought comes along the light: She is going to be taken from me. My Hayley is going to be taken from me. She tries to tell herself that this is a ridiculous thing this is, but there is no arguing with the thought, no arguing with the light. Light that feels green.
"LEON!" She screams as she pulls the car keys from their hook in the closet. "LEON WHERE ARE YOU?!"
Leon comes shambling downstairs, his clothes rumbled from hastily throwing them on. "What is it, are you alright?" she looks terrible. Katrina's face is white and her blond hair is wild. She looks like a mad warrior queen.
"No, we have to get in the car and find Hayley!" she screams. "We have to go to Roadside Park!"
Hayley and Bobby have now reached the gates of the park where it all began…and, in this case, where it will end. "Oh please, Hayley!" Bobby is screaming at her as she passes the gates. "Please, don't leave me!"
But Hayley is not paying attention to him right now; she is looking at the parking lot. The morning sun shines down on the blacktop and the cars glisten in the light. People are walking back and fourth and talking and laughing.
"Not even time for one more ice-cream?" Bobby asks.
Hayley looks at him and then, she seizes his shoulders. Before he can even do anything, she presses her mouth against his and kisses him savagely. His hand involuntarily rises and pats her back and then runs through her hair—and draws back. "I'm sorry" Bobby says. "Your hair—I remember--"
"It's fine" Hayley says and silences him with another wild kiss. "I've gotten over that." Bobby's hand twines in her hair and he begins to cry softly.
"I'll miss you" he whispers in her ear. "I'll miss you oh so much."
"You too" Hayley says. "I'll see you on the other side…after you've had your kids and gone on."
"I will. Then we'll play together again."
Hayley slowly pulls back from Bobby. Her hands--her whole body in fact--feel light and almost insubstantial. She almost feels like the sun should be shining through her. She is not long for this world and she knows it.
A red jeep slides into the lot through the gate, and Hayley immediately feels her heart skip a few beats. This is surely the car. It has a dark violet and gold aura around it when no other cars have one at all. This is the car that is meant to take her out of the world.
With one more smile at Bobby, she walks forward and into the lot.
Katrina and Leon's car swerves and dives through traffic as Katrina drives like a bat out of hell. She is desperate to get to Roadside Park, but she cannot seem to find an easy route there. Then, at last she sees the gates of the park. She is ahead of a red jeep that pulling in. The jeep slows down for some reason and Katrina's head is filled with light again, red this time instead of green. Her daughter is in danger—her mother's intuition knows this—and this driver is slowing down his car! In rage, she slams on the horn, ignoring Leon's frightened protests.
Hayley steps into the lot as the red jeep--startled by the sound of a car honking behind it—darts forward. Hayley sees it coming and for a minute, everything seems to be outlined in clear white light. She realizes that everything is Life, even beyond death there is another kind of Life and it all blends together, life like a wheel.
Then the heavy car comes crashing into her and does its work. The jeep tosses the red haired high school senior up onto its hood. She feels her ribs fracturing along the old fault-lines where they healed and a compression of her midsection as the organs there are crushed. Her breath becomes gasps as her lungs are shredded by bone fragments from her ribs and then the breath stops. She can faintly hear Bobby screaming.
And nothing hurts. Nothing at all. Why should it hurt? All of this happened before, after all. There was pain then, but not now. This is just a matter of resumption.
Hayley skids a few feet behind the jeep and comes to bump against a green BMW that has come to a screeching halt behind the jeep. Oh, Hayley's fading mind thinks. That's Leon's car. I guess that means he's here. I really am sorry he had to see that.
Leon gets out of the BMW screaming Hayley's name. "Hayley! OH MY GOD, OH MY FUCKING GOD!" He is waving his arms about in a way that makes him look more Lenin-revolutionary than ever.
Then Hayley sees something that cuts through her dying daze like a knife. Her mother is sitting in the car. Katrina does not get out, not right away. She sits rigid in the driver's seat, her hands clenched on the wheel. And her eyes know. They know what has just happened and what has just hit the car. Katrina then gets out of the car with what seems like a tremendous effort. She walks stiffly like a clockwork toy whose gears have run down. She kneels next to her daughter.
"Hayley" Katrina whispers to her daughter. She can see the paleness of shock and the blood that soaks Hayley's shirt like awful water. She can see that there are several other injuries which would prove fatal. "How…did this happen?" she asks. "Oh my sweet one, how did this happen?" she smoothes back her daughter's red hair. Mark's red hair. "Please don't take her away from me, she's my child, she's all I have left of him."
But whatever she prays to does not answer. It does not take her doctor's eye to tell her that her daughter is slipping away. But then Hayley's hand rises and takes hers. "I…I'm sorry Mom" she says and then coughs. A spray of little red droplets mists from between her lips. "I…tried to say goodbye so you wouldn't have to see this."
Katrina leans in close to her dying child, smelling the smells of blood and death that now cling to her, and ignoring them completely. "You knew, didn't you" she says to Hayley. Her grief is so total, so complete that she does not even feel it yet. She is able to speak reasonably.
A harsh gasp that produces no air is Hayley's version of a sigh. "I guess so, mom." She shakes her head. "I didn't want you to see this. I guess I have to say goodbye again." Hayley does not feel any pain, but she does feel an overwhelming sleepiness creeping over her. "Mom, the auras" she says, looking all around her.
"What auras?" Katrina asks, not really caring anymore. Not really caring about anything anymore.
"Never mind, they're gone" Hayley says. And in another minute, Hayley Madison is gone too.
Piper stood away from the crowd of Shorts that were gathering at the sight of the crash. The little blond swordswoman wiped a tear of sorrow from her eye. She knew that this would happen of course, it had to happen. The dead who escaped from Puppet were always drawn back to the place of their original end so that they could meet their deaths.
"Ahh, what do I care? The little snot-nose is dead. Good. She cut me with my sword. With my own sword! Bet that car showed her what pain feels like!" said a nasty voice on the retaining wall on Piper's left.
"Actually" Piper said, not even looking at her sister who was sitting enjoying the show, "Re-deaths are always painless. The injuries that caused the pain have, in a sense, already been recorded. You see, after meeting Hayley, I read a lot on the subject at the Citadel of Sirap."
Alicia growled a dark sound. "You really liked her didn't you? A friend?"
"No, not a friend exactly" Piper said. "I suppose I did like her, though. I put her through a lot, but she was so resilient! That is what I admire about Shorts the most. They are tough and resilient."
"They have to be to deal with the crap we dish out" Alicia says. "Like that Stanton kid I scouted out for the Princess. She paid well, but…after Madison beat Her…she went into another one of Her insane fits again and I decided to make myself scarce." Alicia voices an unpleasant snigger. "Look, here come the waterworks." She points to where Katrina is now sobbing desperately, holding her dead daughter's hand to her face.
Piper sighed and a small glowing orb of orange energy appeared in her hand. She looked at it and started toward the crowd. "What are you doing?" Alicia demanded. "What are you doing with that? Stop! If you're thinking about disobeying Central Law--"
Piper turned to her sister, rage scrawled on her face. "Fuck Central Law" and she strode toward the mortals.
Alicia gets up and goes after her sister. "Fuck Central Law, huh? Well, I guess we just might." She caught up to Piper and smiled at her. "I guess if you're up to it, then I am too." An orb of yellow energy formed in her hand.
"So shall we show it to her?" Piper asked. "Shall we really do it?"
"Yeah" said Alicia and she walked through. While the mortals could not sense them, they moved out of the way instinctively. When the two messengers had reached Katrina, they saw that she was surrounded by people. Leon held her close and Katrina still held Hayley's hand to her face. Bobby Paine was on the outer part of the inner circle. His brown eyes widened as he saw them
"Shhhhh" Piper said to Bobby, and sidled next to Katrina on her right. Alicia did so on her left. The two of them both touched the sides of Katrina's head with the glowing palms of their hands.
Katrina looks up suddenly, her eyes wide and surprised, her grief temporarily forgotten as a glorious feeling of calmness and peace fills her. For a moment, Roadside Park is gone. She is in a place beyond her wildest hopes and dreams. A beautiful blue sky, bluer than the clearest day on Earth shines down on her. A mighty river flows over dazzling waterfalls. She can hear the roar of the water. The green of grass and the colors of flowers are all so beautiful that it brings tears to her eyes. She can also see buildings in the distance; buildings of such beauty and joy that her heart bursts for them. But it is the people who take her attention. There are people walking on the flower carpeted land all over. As she looks, two of them sitting and talking by the water take her attention.
It is her husband and as he sees her, he waves and smiles at her. Next to him is their daughter and he is teaching her how to fish…along with getting caught up with events from the past ten years. Katrina will never forget the great joy that leaped up inside her soul at that moment, knowing that they are both safe and happy, knowing that she will find her daughter and husband one day.
The doors of the jeep have opened and Dr. Culbertson (ironically Hayley's doctor at the hospital when she was hit the first time) is getting out. The black doctor is sobbing uncontrollably. "I killed her! Oh dear God, I killed her!" he staggers over to Katrina and Leon. He looks at them both. "Doctor…Dr. Madison" he weeps…can you ever…can you ever forgive me?"
Katrina does not answer for a while. And then she lays her daughter's hand back over her still chest. "Yes…yes, I think so" she says calmly. Leon, with tears streaming down his face, looks thunderstruck, but he does not say anything.
Katrina stays there, staring at Hayley's face and closed eyes. To her, it looks like her daughter has gone to sleep. "I'm so sorry" Bobby whispers. "I really am, Dr. Madison."
"It's not your fault" Katrina says. "Just as I was wrong to blame you so much the first time." She listens as the sounds of the police and ambulance sirens swell distantly. She looks on the ground around Hayley where her belongings have scattered along with the drying blood and other fluids. Mark's cigarette lighter is among them.
That was a very hard chapter for me to write and I cried a little after this part. I want to say a big THANK YOU SO MUCH! To all of my wonderful reviewers: I8Squirrelnutkin, iloveme5895, Mayu-San-Sakura, and openheadspace. Please, join me again for another GREAT TALE…whenever I get around to making one. Cheers!