You all thought I forgot about this story, didn't you? Fear not. Me has more shtuffumz.

Chapter 1: Anger

Karina Gray.

1989 – 2009.

Born to David and Abigail Gray.

Beloved sister and daughter.

A single white rose dropped in front of the tombstone of Karina Gray. Small droplets of water were shaken off of the rose as it hit the ground. Every day another rose would come, and every day it was practically soaked. It wasn't dew, and it wasn't rain… It was tears.

A young girl stood over the grave, staring blankly. Broken, the girl fell to her knees, sobbing in anguish. Why?! the girl screamed in her mind, Why did this happen?! She didn't deserve it! She didn't deserve it!!

Lilith had constantly asked herself that ever since her sister died. Even though it had been over a year, it still seemed so unreal. It had always felt like one day, Karina would walk through the front door, saying "Sorry, my bad!" That was how Karina was. She was bubbly and quirky, and if anyone would be so clumsy as to make people think she was dead, it would be her. But that wasn't how it happened. Lilith was at the funeral. She had seen Karina's body as proof. She wasn't coming back. Not ever.

Karina was the greatest sister anyone could ask for. Whenever Lilith was having trouble at school, be it grades, friends, or boys, Karina was always there for her. She would be a helping hand, a sympathetic ear, and a shoulder to cry on. She would always say what Lilith needed to hear the most. And after that, Karina would always find a way to make her forget her troubles. Karina was incredible… And she was gone. She was only twenty when she died… Twenty years old.

She didn't deserve it.

For the first week, Lilith had been in denial. But after the funeral, everything changed. She saw Karina get buried, and she was struck with agony. Her sister was really gone. Lilith was a mess at the memorial service. She had wanted so much to say something for Karina up there in front of everyone, but she couldn't bring herself to open her mouth without bursting into tears. She wasn't any better when she got home. She immediately ran to her room, locked the door, and cried some more. Lilith wasn't sure how long she was there. She didn't remember much of it. She thought her parents may have knocked on the door a few times, offering food or something like that, but she wasn't sure. All she really remembered was despair.

When Lilith finally came out and started going to school again, her friends started whispering. They saw her walk through the doors, and then turned around and murmured to each other. Lilith had never discerned whether it was gossip or not. Perhaps they weren't sure how she was doing, and were wondering to each other what they should say to her, if they should express their condolences or act like it never happened so that she would forget the loss entirely. She'd never really figured it out. She didn't approach them, and at lunch she just found an empty table and sat there. Then her friends all came to her and tried to speak with her and console her. Lilith wouldn't cooperate. She just couldn't find words to say.

Lilith's grades had taken a turn for the worst. She couldn't pay attention in class. The lessons just didn't make sense. Nothing made sense anymore. Nothing at all. Not without Karina. And she didn't talk to her family much. The longest conversations they had were fights. Her father would never be pleased anymore. He would always blow up when he saw an F on her report card, and since almost all of her grades were F's now, things got even worse. They were always yelling at each other. Her poor mother would stand by and watch, trying to stop them.

When Karina died, part of everyone died with her. Surely this wasn't meant to happen. It couldn't have been. Lilith's family needed Karina. She needed her. Karina didn't deserve to be killed.

Was Lilith the one being punished? Did whatever powers-that-be see her to be self-centered and want to prove to her that she needed someone? Lilith had always known she needed Karina. She never could have imagined life without her. So what had she done to deserve this?

And more importantly, why couldn't she have died instead?

Lilith stared at Karina's grave, wiping away her tears. She stroked the edge of it, hoping it would make her feel better. True, it reminded her of Karina, but it wasn't her. It was just a cold stone with words carved into it. Lilith stood up and pushed her hair out of her face.

"Karina…" she whispered as she headed for home, "It should have been me…"

**

"Hey, Lilith," greeted Ashley, Lilith's best friend, as Lilith walked into her first period class.

"Hi," Lilith answered, barely looking at her.

"Ummm…" Ashley stammered upon noticing the distance in Lilith's face, "I… I like what you did with your hair."

Lilith forced a weak smile. Ashley really wanted to make her forget, didn't she? And the first thing she thinks of is to compliment her hair. Lilith had put hot pink streaks in it this morning. Ashley thought mentioning it would help, but all it did was remind Lilith of her loss.

"Thanks," Lilith said, "…It looked better on her, though."

"Oh," said Ashley, her face softening more than usual, "Karina used to have that, didn't she? You did that for her?"

"Yeah," Lilith replied.

"I'm sure she'd like it," said Ashley.

"Maybe," said Lilith.

"Hey…" Ashley began, with some hesitation, "I've been wanting to ask this for a while now, but I wasn't sure about… I mean, with… Well, you… The anniversary was almost a month ago, and I really didn't think that it'd be a good idea to bring it up… But time has passed and so I was wondering if… The next time you go and see her… Would it be okay with you if I came along?"

Lilith paused, unsure if she was quite ready to take anyone with her just yet. It wasn't so much that she didn't want Ashley to visit Karina's grave… She just didn't want anyone to go with her. Lilith could never go there once without sobbing her heart out like a little baby. True, she had the right to, but still, she didn't like the idea of anyone seeing her like that. But since Ashley asked, Lilith felt obligated to say yes. And so she did.

"Are you sure?" Ashley asked, "I mean, I don't want to push you into—"

"It's fine," Lilith lied, "Go ahead. I wouldn't mind the company, really."

"Thanks."

Lilith thought that perhaps this was actually a good idea. She and Ashley had been pretty distant from each other ever since what had happened. Like she had with everyone, Lilith had lost connection with the girl who was once her greatest friend in all the world. She used to be able to talk to her about anything. But now they were suddenly strangers. Maybe this was what they needed, a chance to bond the way they could before. And though it wasn't very likely, it was possible that Ashley just might be able to help.

Okay, Lilith thought to herself, This might actually turn out well.

Little did she know…

**

"Is that the one?" Ashley asked in a soft and reverent voice as she and Lilith wandered through the graveyard the following day.

Lilith didn't speak, and simply responded with a nod. The two quietly walked over to Karina's grave. Lilith dropped her white rose and Ashley laid a bouquet of flowers in a vase.

"I didn't know her very well…" said Ashley, maintaining the deferential tone, "But she was amazing, wasn't she?"

Lilith nodded, still not opening her mouth to keep herself composed.

"I don't remember much of the few times I saw her. But the little memory I have… I guess her image just sticks with you. She was almost always smiling… She'd laugh at everything… I couldn't help but be happy around her. But that didn't make her shallow at all. She wasn't like anyone I'd ever met before. There was just something about her… I don't even know how to say it. It's hard to believe that she's really gone… It must be so hard."

"…It is," Lilith finally said.

"Just getting on with your life… Everything must seem so much darker without her around… Like the whole world has suddenly turned against you. And you want to remember her, but it hurts too much. It hurts to feel anything… So you don't want to feel at all."

"What do you know?!" Lilith blurted out.

Why was Ashley saying all this? She didn't know Karina. She didn't understand what the world was like without her. How could she even try to understand?

"Lilith," said Ashley, "I understand that you're angry--"

"No, you don't!" Lilith snapped, "You don't know anything!"

"Yes, I do!" Ashley protested, "Or have you forgotten what happened to my dad?"

Lilith's fists were now clenched so tight that her nails dug into her palms. What in the world was Ashley trying to do?

"I know what it's like," said Ashley, "I know how much it hurts, and how much you want to make it go away. But this isn't--"

"SHUT UP!!" Lilith screamed, "Just shut up and get out of here!!!"

"I'm just trying to help," said Ashley.

"I said get OUT!! LEAVE US ALONE!!!"

Ashley walked away. Lilith didn't know where she was going. And frankly, she didn't care. She was fed up with all of this. All she would ever hear anymore was "I'm sorry," or "It must hurt so much," or "Let me help you." Well, she didn't need any more sympathy. And no one was helping. When was help coming? When would someone say or do something that would actually make her feel better?

When would someone bring Karina back?

Lilith loosened her fists and realized her palms were bleeding slightly. What had made her so angry was that everything Ashley said was true. If all she could feel was sadness and pain and loneliness and anger, Lilith would rather not feel anything at all. If Karina couldn't come back, then all Lilith wanted was to stop missing her. It hurt too much.

And now Lilith was feeling something else. Shame. Remorse. Guilt. Ashley used to be her best friend, and Lilith had just driven her away. Ever since Karina died, Ashley was all she had. She was the only one who Karina's death didn't harden. They had never really fought about anything up until now. And really, Ashley didn't do anything. The only one fighting was Lilith. She didn't realize it at the time, but when Ashley was telling her that she was trying to help, she sounded hurt. Now, for sure, even Ashley was gone… And Lilith was alone. It was all her fault…

"Just come back…" Lilith sobbed to the point where she was nearly coughing, clutching Karina's gravestone, "That's the only way to make everything better… Please come back to me…"

But no. Karina was never coming back. Nothing would ever be the same again. Without Karina, Lilith had become nothing. She was just… Empty.

Maybe the world would be better off without me.

Lilith slowly reached for her pocket knife.

No one needs me anymore… All I can do is hurt people.

Hands trembling, she pointed the blade at her chest.

My life ended a year ago anyway.

Closer and closer…

Just do it.

But she couldn't. She couldn't go through with it. She was too weak. Lilith slammed the knife into the ground.

"I just want to be with you again," Lilith cried.

"You poor child…" said a gentle voice. Lilith turned around to see a woman standing behind her. Every stitch of her elegant clothing was black, just like her hair, which trailed all the way to her knees. Lilith couldn't point it out, but there was something… different… Almost otherworldly about her.

"Who are you?" Lilith asked, sure that she was there for a reason.

"My name is Mercy. And I can help you, Lilith."

"How do you know my name?"

"Well, I suppose I could explain that," said Mercy, in a calm and soothing tone, "But I don't think that'll matter to you in a second."

"What do you mean?"

Mercy smiled. "I can bring your sister back."

Woooooooo-ooooooo-ooooooooo…

I just ruined the mood, didn't I…? I was originally going to split this into two chapters, but it seems that all fantasy stories introduce the fantasy at the end of chapter 1. So yeah. It's odd writing about how something feels when I've never experienced it. The only person I ever knew who died was more a friend of a friend, so it didn't have that huge an impact on me, other than the initial shock and wishing I'd gotten to know him better. The only source I have is that and other fiction, poetry, etc that I've read. I'm going off of that to write about grief. Sometimes I think I shouldn't be guessing like this, but I couldn't let this story remain an idea. And I didn't want to wait until I could write from experience.

Next chapter in progress. 'Twill explain who Mercy is to an extent. Yes, I just said 'twill. Meaning "it will." When reading my author notes, you will find that the way I talk is 40% Shakespeare, 40% caveman, 10% Spanish, 20% some other language that no one speaks but me, and 5% random big words to make me sound smart when in reality I have no idea what they mean. That's 115%! I have a C in math! ANTIDISESTABLISHMENTARIANSIM!