After we buried Ethan, I locked myself in my room and spent the rest of the day ripping down posters of his favorite bands and shredding pictures of us. There were so many of him, and I ripped every one of them into little pieces. I imagined my heart was doing the same thing as I tore photo after photo of him smiling or hugging me.
There were piles of scraps when I had finished, and I shoved them carelessly into my waste bin. Then I started for the stuffed animals. It was a tradition that Ethan and I had since sixth grade. Burlington County had a town fair every year, and he and I would exchange whatever we won at the game booths. I had arranged his animals in chronological order, and so it was last year's animal I picked up first. It was a violently yellow giraffe with asymmetrical spots, complete with the most doleful smile I had ever seen.
"Do you like it?" Ethan had asked at the time. His blue eyes crinkled at the corners when I pretended to gag. "Bitch. I wasted an hour tossing rings for this."
"Good job, is this the best you can do?" I asked, but I took the giraffe anyway.
"Well, it was the best option available."
Ethan justified everything with that phrase. He only said it because he pretend to be the more rational one of us. Bullshit. In my head, the giraffe screamed as I ripped it in two and pulled out its insides. It was an excellent distraction, so I sat there, mutilating the animal for a while. But after I had plunged a pair of scissors into the middle of its forehead, the familiar compression in my chest came back. My hands shook, and there was pressure behind my eyes. All it took was a deep breath, a poor attempt at controlling myself, and I was suddenly on the floor, crying my eyes out into my purple carpet.
My little sister Sherry didn't come in that night. Come to think of it, she hadn't talked to me since last Sunday, when Mom had slipped into my room. I pretended to be asleep until she said, "Kit, Officer Samson is outside. He wants to talk to you."
Sherry was waiting for me when I opened the door, and she followed me down to the foyer, where I stopped and turned around. "Go back to bed," I said, but she shook her head.
"What's going on?" Sherry asked.
"I don't know, but it's not your business."
"It is if the police come to our house at two am," she insisted. Then she planted herself at the bottom of the stairs, daring me to make a scene. I didn't. I was too tired, so I left her alone and opened the door.
"Kathy," Officer Samson said when he saw me. He looked fat and miserable, and his patrol car was out of place with the suburbia backdrop. The blue lights were still flashing, and several of the neighbors peered out of their windows to look at me with interest.
"Kit," Officer Samson said again, and I noticed the notepad and radio in his hands.
He looked at me sadly, and a minute later, I heard Sherry run back upstairs.