In The Mourning
I lay sprawled in the grass, weaving a delicate chain of daisies. The sun shone brightly as puffy white clouds ghosted across an endless expanse of baby-blue. I breathed in the sweet honeysuckle perfume of the Alabama spring, and with a sigh, i closed my eyes and began humming to myself.
"Arn't you coming inside?" Aaron looked down at me, his hair neatly brushed back out of his eyes. Clad in black pants, black shirt and tie, shiny black loafers - he was dressed in mourning colors.
I shook my head. "I can't sit through another one of those speeches. All this talk about how she's off to a better place and that He is looking after her...where was He when she jumped?"
"Out of everybody here, I least expected you to be the one to question your His actions." He mumbled, crouching.
I pursed my lips. Did i really just say that? I looked towards the sky and frowned. "I'm sorry."
"He would understand." Both of us turned our heads to look at voice. Father Brendon looked between us, his eyes weary and fallen. "It's a tragedy that this happened, but we must have faith that He will look after her and guide us through this devestating time."
"Of course, Father." I nodded solemnly. Justine was only my age when she went police found her body a year later under the bridge that she chose to take her life. Nobody knew that she was in pain, or upset. Her death came as a shock to everyone close to her.
"She must have been in so much pain to do that." Aaron shook his head. He began ripping out blades of grass.
Father Brendon clapped Aaron on the back and sighed. "Don't focus on what she did, son. Try to remember her when she was happiest. Celebrate life, not death." He stepped back and looked towards the people piling into the church. "We shoudld all go inside now."
He extended his hand and I took it.
"Thank you, Father." I said quietly. He nodded and we trailed behind him silently.
Walking into the building, I parted from Aaron and found my Momma in the back row. My three year-old sister grinned, extending her arms to me. I gave her a quick hug and ran my hand through her little gold curls. "I made this for you." I told her sweetly, crowning her with the daisy chain. She fiddled with it idly, giggling. "Preeety."
Momma smiled gently and patted my hand. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." I told her sincerly. "It's just sad, you know."
I sat ramrod in the the pew, my hands in her lap, gaze leveled at the polished wooden crucifix on the wall. Father Brendon's words washed over me from his pulpit as he spoke of the glory of God and how Justine was in a better place. His voice was charming, and captivated everyone within hearing distance. Woman in particular, found his long speech endearing. He was a handsome man, there was no doubting it: Thick bronze curls, wide shoulders, toned skin, and peircing green eyes. Those eyes troubled me slightly, they reminded me too much of a snakes.
Standing and humming along with adult choir, i shifted from foot to foot. The blazing sun beat downt through the plated glass windows, roasting the church's inhabitants.
"Stop fidgiting Valerie." Momma whispered to me. Amelia dangled from her hip, the heat starting to aggrivate her too. Momma was trying desperatly to cool her down with her black fan while my sweet innocent sister swatted her face. I sniggered and Momma narrowed her blue eyes warningly.
I sighed through my nose. The thick air was making it hard to breathe. When the song finished, we watched Father Brendon step out from behind a curtain, motioning us to sit down so he could conclude the memorial. Playing with the fraid end of my dress, I looked through the familiar faces and met eyes with Aaron. "Hang out afterwards?" He mouthed.
I nodded and looked back at Momma who was glaring at him. She didn't like me talking to boys, even if it was just Aaron. She thought he was a distraction from my studies - which i was excelling in - and a bad influence. I come from a very strict, religious family, and Aaron, being the complete opposite of Holy, is almost considered a sin in my family.
As usual, we waited around after the memorial to give our thanks to the priest. Momma was very insistant on always thanking him for his services because "he has come all the way from out of town to be with us and he needs all the encouragement he can get." Personally, I think she likes him. Telling her I think this, would obviously be unwise.
"We offer grief counselling to anyone who might need it." He told her, his eyes flickered to me.
I looked away quickly with a frown. It probably came out quite rude, but i couldn't help it. I just didn't like those cold eyes of his. He went back to speaking to Momma and ruffled Amelia's hair. I turned my head just in time to see Aaron leaving the church. He gestured to his phone, promising to text me later.
"I'm sure i'll see you all next Sunday for mass." He smiled gently, looking back at me once again. I nodded and we watched him disappear through one of the side doors, even though he still had people waiting to talk to him.
"Always in a hurry that man is." Momma said, tilting her head.
We moved outside, which was even hotter, despite the slight breeze. It was blistering hot and the black dress didn't do much to protect me from it.
I brushed back my damnped red fringe just as my phone buzzed. I whipped it out of my handbag and grinned when i saw the text from Aaron.
Momma was chatting with a few older woman in the car park. I tapped her on the shoulder, interrupting the conversation. "I'm going for Frozen Yogurt, okay?"
"Sure thing, sweetie." She said. "Just be back for tea." She turned back to her friends.
I trudged across the grass and away from the church builidng. It was only a ten minute walk to the Milkbar, which I didn't mind doing, especially when most of it consisted of shady trees. My sandals slapped the pavement as I enjoyed the beauty of White Chapel.
Arching my neck to get a look at my favorite set of statues, I jumped backwards and let out a shaky breath. A black car trailed the pavement beside me, moving slower than it should be. It's tinted windows restricted my view of the driver.
I spun around and began walking quicker, veering further away from the road. It sped ahead of me, and i let out the breath i'd been holding in. My fears drifted away as I finally made it to the Milkbar, packed full of teenagers bearing witness to any creepy stalkers that could be loitering about.
Aaron was sitting in a cubicle surrounded by a few girls with admiring looks spread across their faces, not that i expected anything less. His friends, Jackson and Trent sat opposite him, flanked by their girlfriends.
He scooted over and slid a strawberry FroYo towards me. "The usual."
"Thank you." I smiled, shoving a spoonful into my dry mouth. Gosh, it tasted amazing.
I glanced around at the people gathered around our table. Simon was the only one missing, but I knew he'd be with his family. He and Justine had been friends.
I shovelled the dessert into my mouth and Aaron laughed at me. "That was quick!" He snorted, pulling out a napkin. He wiped my mouth. "Piggy."
I poked my tongue out at him and jumped out of my seat. "I'll be back."
"I'll be waiting," He chuckled darkly. I smacked him lightly and wandered to the bathroom, scrunching my nose as the smell of cigarrettes began to wash over me.
The only other person inside was a blonde girl who was leaning agains the sink, absorbed in her ipod, the source of the smoke coming from the lit ciggarette in her hand.
I splashed my face with cold water. The lingering fear of the black car was creeping up on me again. I shook my head. I was being stupid.
"Excuse me?" Her voice was so quiet that I almost didn't hear her. I looked up. "That boy that you were sitting with, is he your boyfriend?"
I hesitated without knowing why. "Nope."
"Is he single then?"
"Actually yeah, he is."
She beamed. "Could you give him my number?"
I looked at her and smiled. "He's a nice guy. Why don't you give it to him yourself?"
The girl frowned and muttered something before turning back to her ipod. I sighed and walked back out. The crowd of girls had dispersed and Aaron was sitting alone.
"The guys have gone to the park to play football. I said i'd wait for you because i'm, of course, a nice person." I grinned and looked him over. Aaron was condisered one of the most handsome boys in school, but i'd personally never paid attention to those details. He was good-looking though: dark brown eyes, messy hair, lanky build...
"You're staring at me." He raised an eyebrow. "Why are you staring at me?"
I shook my head. "The blonde girl coming out of the bathroom," I tilted my head. "She likes you."
"Well who doesn't?" He snickered. I flicked his forehead.
"Dummy. I mean she LIKES you,"
"oh." He shrugged. "Yeah she's kinda cute i suppose."
"I'll take it as a no, your not interested then?"
Aaron looked up. "Why are you telling me this anyway?"
I shrugged. "I just thought you'd like to know."
"Right." He smiled. "Doesn't matter, i've got my sights set on someone else."
I nudged him. "You mean Jaida.." I groaned. "Jaida has slept with almost every guy in the tenth grade! Don't you find that kinda gross?"
"I don't like Jaida." He chuckled. "Please, give me a little credit."
"Oh. Now I feel mean."
"Why?" He asked.
"Cause i basically called her a gross..you know?"
"Whore? Slut? Boner Garage?" I slapped him. "What the hell?!"
"Bad words. Disgusting words."
"You're such a prude." He ruffled my hair annoyingly. "God called, he wants his angel back."
I patted my hair back down. "You're so mean. And now my hair is all messy."
"Oh, I forgot. Red head's can't be angels. They have no souls."
"It's reddish BROWN!" I corrected. "C'mon," I rolled my eyes. "Let's go to the park, shall we?"
"Yeah, okay, Angel."
We met up with a few more of Aaron's friends and as they played basketball on the court., I sat with Ava.
Her pretty face looked down at the blades of grass, every so often her eyes drifting back at her boyfriend on the field.
"What wrong?" I asked her. She looked up with a troubled expression, and emitted a sad sigh.
"I don't think Jackson likes me very much anymore." She whispered, plucking at the grass furiously. "He's going to dump me."
I frowned. They'd been together for over a year now and seemed utterly inseperable. "Why would you think that?"
"Stacy McQeen was talking about all their "tutoring" sessions." She sniffled. "I think he's gotten bored of me."
"Stacy McQeen really needs tutoring though." I giggled quietly. "Jackson is a good guy, he wouldn't do anything to hurt you."
She ducked her head. "Its just, the way she said it, made me think there was something more to it."
"She's a liar." I assured her. "Talk to Jackson about it then. Confront him. He'll tell you the truth. He loves you."
She smiled slightly and rubbed her eyes. "You're too wise about all of this. Don't you fancy anyone? What about Aaron?"
I laughed. "We're just friends."
I was a big day dreamer. I wanted the fairytale ending with my true love marrying me and living happily ever after. Aaron and I were truthfully just friends, and while he may flirt, it was just his personality. One day i would find my prince.
Ava nudged my arm playfull and laughed. After that, we both sat and watched the rest of the girls cheering on Aaron, and fighting to get his attention. Sighing through my nose, i sprawled in the grass, closing my eyes against the suns glare.
Every so often, I opened my eyes and gazed around the beautiful park. I shifted my eyes to the road and glimpsed the same black car slowly trailing the road. After a few seconds, it sped back up and disappeared from view, leaving me alone in the scortching heat, wondering who it was and if they were following me.