Kia was lost in a haze. She couldn't remember what day it was or how many days of school she missed. She wasn't sure how many reporters had pounded on their door to ask her questions. Kia stayed in her room away from everyone. The only time she left was to attend Alex's funeral.
She remembered the church was quiet. Everyone was dressed in black. When she entered in her black turtle neck dress with her hair brushed behind her everyone turned to stare. To Kia the stares looked angry. The whispers seemed bitter. They were like wolves ready to attack.
She walked up the aisle slowly, holding one sad wilted white rose, toward his coffin. He lay there with eyes closed in a nice black suit. His hands together on his chest. His dredlocks on his shoulders. His body was surrounded by white roses.
Kia felt lightheaded like she might faint. She had to close her eyes and steady herself. When she opened her eyes again she hoped he would be sitting up and laughing like this was all a joke but he wasn't. He was still lying there like he was sleeping.
She reached down and lifted his stiff hand just slightly to put her rose in it.
"I'm sorry." She whispered
She and her dad sat in the back while people came up to speak. Kia didn't listen. She didn't want to hear any more that would remind her of Alex. She was surprised when her dad came up to speak.
"I didn't know Alex well," He said into the mic "I was angry at him for dating my daughter. I thought he wasn't good enough for her. I didn't know I was wrong until it was too late. I never knew anyone other than me would be strong enough to take a bullet for her. From now on no boy who wants to be with my daughter will ever compare to Alex."
She watched her dad sniff and shed a tear before saying thank you and walking back to Kia.
Now she was in her room begging for some sign of him in her dreams. Some sign that he was still there. She only dreamt of running and yelling for Nathaniel but he never answered and never appeared. He had disappeared from her.
Her family let her be. They didn't bother her or try to comfort her. She knew her dad was probably telling everyone it would only upset her. The only person who visited her was Ethan.
He entered the room quietly without knocking. Kia sat up and wiped at her eyes. He sat next to her on her bed.
"I thought you were going to Africa." She said holding her knees against her chest.
"We decided to wait for a few more days." He said leaning back against the wall
"Ethan, you should go." Kia said
"Dad and I just want to know how you are first."
"I'm fine." Kia said trying to put on a fake smile
"Come on, I know you aren't fine."
She widened her fake smile and wiped at her eyes again
"Look, I'm all better, ok? You can't miss out on meeting your mom."
"We'll go just not yet," He looked at her for a moment before saying "I'm sorry this happened to you."
She looked away
"It didn't happen to me. It happened to him."
"But you're the one suffering."
She turned her head quickly and gave him a dark glare.
"You can go."
One night Kia realized she was tired of her room. She wanted to get out. If she went out the front door her parents might interogate her. She slid out her window and down the tree. She let her feet take control unsure where she was going. She didn't bring a jacket but the cold didn't bother her. The wind blew through her hair but she didn't try to fix it. When she looked up she found herself in front of Alex's house. All the lights were off like the house itself had died.
Kia climbed the side of his house and and opened Alex's window. She gently stepped on the wooden floor. The little animals he had carved stared at her through the dark as if they had been waiting for her to appear.
She lay on his bed and took in the smell. His smell. She turned and looked up at his ceiling. This was where he would lay at night and dream of her. This was what he saw when he woke up in the mornings. The morning of the last day of his life.
From just outside the door Kia heard shuffling feet. She quickly sat up and tried to think how fast she would have to get out but the door opened letting in a sqaure of light from the hall. Alex's mother stood there in a robe wearing fluffly slippers.
When she saw Kia she smiled.
"Did you climb the window?" She asked turning the light on
Kia cringed from the light but nodded. His mother sat next to her and Kia could see her eyes were red and puffy.
"He really liked carving all these things." She reached over and stroked the head of a wooden cat like it was real
"Which one was his favorite?" Kia asked
"Out of these? I couldn't say. He loved them all but there was one he started a few days before...Well I think he was making it for you."
"He was making one for me?" Kia asked
She stood from the bed and opened his closet. It was full of those button down shirts he always wore hanging on hangers and pants underneath folded like he had been planning all his outfits.
From the back she pulled a little wooden statue no bigger than the length of her hand. She sat back down and handed it to Kia. It was a little wooden person with wings. There was no face or hair but it was beautiful.
"He didn't smile much but he kept smiling while he made it. Wouldn't stop." She laughed
"It's so pretty."
"You keep it."
"But it was his last-"
"We're moving back to California next week. All of Alex's things are going to be split between family. We're only going to keep a few things for ourselves. You should keep it. To remember."
"Why don't you stay here for tonight and I'll take you home tomorrow."
She left Kia there in the dark in Alex's bed. She held the little angel tightly to her chest and for the first time in such a long time Kia had a dreamless sleep.