It was too early in the season for anything but the crocuses. The trees hadn't awakened from their winter hibernation yet, and the birds hadn't returned from their southern retreat. The day started out bright and clear, but turned cloudy and dreary as the morning progressed, casting just the right lighting for the scenery I found myself in.
I'd never received an 'invitation' to attend a funeral before, and so I felt compelled to go, even if it meant making another trip back to Brickerton.
It had been a little over three months since my run in with Kain. After I told the local law enforcement my story and directed them to where they could find the body of the little girl, they were able to exhume her remains from the unmarked grave in the woods. She still wore a pair of overalls that were the fashion of the time, and was wrapped in a decaying beach towel.
By the time the coroner and the investigators had completed their examination of little Leslie's body, the winter cold had seeped into the ground, freezing the soil and making burial difficult. The parents who had waited twelve years to find out what happened to their daughter, had to wait several months longer before they could put her to rest.
The girl's mother hugged me and cried when I approached her in the church. My initial reaction of discomfort caused me to stiffen, but when she whispered "thank you" into my ear, my body went warm and soft. Tears fell down my face. I sensed her pain, but I felt her relief.
After the funeral, she asked me to accompany the small group of mourners that were to attend her daughter as she was laid to rest. I came back to see the girl properly buried, so I agreed to the request.
That's how I ended up here, back in the cemetery where I first met Kain. So much had happened since then, and my world had spun towards a new epoch. What I knew of the past and how I perceived the future had changed in a short time.
Leslie's parents obtained closure, Corry received justice and Kain got what he deserved. The fall didn't kill the man, but his injuries made him a paraplegic. He couldn't hurt anyone anymore, especially since he was facing life in prison. His disabled state would call for a separate confinement from other prison inmates and would save him from meeting with the vigilante vengeance they might seek on a child killer, but I rested easy knowing that his face would never emerge into the outer world again.
The whole affair of last fall made me a local celebrity. The Brickerton Press printed article after article about it for weeks. I knew his because Mom sent all of the newspaper clippings to me. There was even a blurb or two about it in the national news. After my discharge from the hospital, I could barely move about my hometown without being accosted by someone who tried to press some unknown details of the story out of me in the hopes that they'd obtain some gossip to spread.
The Freak didn't get off easily, either. His identity had been strewn across the papers, as well. As it turned out, his name was Matt Deleary. I'd never known that before.
After cloistering myself in my parent's home for the few days that I stayed on in Brickerton, I left the attention behind for the west coast. Matt had to stay and continue being subjected to all the curiosity.
I stood in the cemetery now, watching as the casket was lowered into the earth. The sensations that this place formerly evoked in me no longer held their affect. The melancholy atmosphere, the inquisitive thrill for the past, didn't fill me anymore.
For the third time since my arrival, I turned towards the location in which I knew Corry's grave to be. This time I saw a figure in the distance. He was familiar.
Quietly withdrawing from the crowd around Leslie's tombstone, I headed towards the person. If he heard me coming, he didn't react to the fact. I stepped up beside him and squeezed his hand in greeting.
Matt turned and smiled at me. He knew I'd make my way over here eventually. I think maybe he wanted to be here to lend me his support if I needed it.
We stood there, hand in hand, gazing at Corry's epitaph: 'may he find peace at last'. Dear God, I hoped he did.
For my own part, I decided that the beauty of an eternal rest could wait. I wasn't ready to understand the concept of infinite silence just yet. I had plenty of living to do first. With Corry past me, and Matt beside me – the Freak, my hero, my Freak – I was ready to move forward. And that's when I found my closure.
"Hey," I broke the solemnity, "you wanna go grab a cup of coffee?"
He smiled at me, but didn't say yes, so I attempted to persuade him. "I know a great little diner. . ."
He laughed. "Coffee sounds great."
We turned and walked out of the cemetery together, talking about what we did after high school and about how we lived our lives in general. It turned out to be a good day.
That day, we both left the past behind us.
A/N: Just a few notes: Kain's name came from the story of Cain and Able in the Old Testament of the Bible. Cain murdered his own brother out of jealousy. While Kain's motive for killing Corry was different, like his namesake, he did it for his own selfish reasons.
The Freak started out as a minor character in this story. He was meant to give Corry and Claire a common dilemma on which to bond. As the story progressed his character developed in my head, and by the end, he turned out to be Claire's hero. Funny how things work out like that in the imagination, and in real life.
The Giant's Grave is a real place. It's in the woods behind my old high school. The mineral water pump still sits in front of an old house across the street from the path that leads up to the Grave. It was owned by my great aunt who told stories of my hometown to me, my siblings and cousins.
Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed this story . . . and a review would be nice. ; )