I sat there, quiet and vulnerable. It was quite chilly out here in the cemetery. I couldn’t believe I forgot to bring my hoodie and scarf along with me. I realized that halfway here but I couldn’t care less. Angst was getting the better of me. The grave I stood near was stone cold. Of course it had to be, it was stone.
It read, ‘Augustine Rosa Bennett ~ 28th January 1979 – 28th January 2001 ~ A loving daughter, wife and mother.’
A tear slipped down my cheek and before I knew it, more of them fell. I couldn’t help but think how I killed her. She willingly laid down her life for me, not even thinking about her future. She wanted me to have a life because she thought twenty two years were more than enough for her. I couldn’t help but think how she could have been happy with my father today if I weren’t born.
I sucked in a sharp breath but the air came back out as my throat made a choking sound. My body went still for a second before I had it. A panic attack. For an incident I never witnessed but, was a part of.
The winds blew on my face, my hair all over the place.
“Do not stand at my grave and weep
I’m not there, I do not sleep
I’m a thousand winds that blow
I’m the diamond glints on snow
I am the sunlight on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn rain
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight
I am the soft stars the sine at night
Do not stand at my grave and cry
I’m not there, I did not die.”
I read the poem that was inscribed onto her gravestone. I wiped any traces of tears and sat beside her.
“Hey, Mom. I miss you. You know I’ve been coming here every year on my birthday. You probably know that. I haven’t had the chance to meet you though. You kind of left me stranded on earth, alone on the path of life. First few years, Dad never told me about you. Then, on my seventh birthday, your birthday too, he introduced you, right here and told me how it was all my fault. He’s right. It is. Tomorrow is our day. So I thought, I’d send it with you. I feel like all the feelings here are unrequited. You’ve never had a chance to see me grow up. Just glimpses of me every year. What kind of daughter am I? Dad hates me now. He’s never home. Whenever he is, he’s drunk or angry. At me. So for today, I left. There isn’t anyone who cared about me anyway. School is okay, I guess. Everyone ignores me. Except for my gym partner, Travis. He is the tall blonde guy I told you about last time. He is the only one who knows the real me. The broken shattered me.
“Anyways, enough about me. How are you up there? You know what Travis said? He said, “The big old fart up there was feeling a bit lonely. So, he called you up and left me down here to liven this mortal playground.” I have always liked him since the first day of school. I don’t know if the feelings are mutual. Maybe there is no chance that he likes me. He’s the popular one. The basketball team’s captain. I, on the other side of the social pole, am a nerd. Always engrossed in books to forget the real world.”
I don’t know how long I sat there, how long I had been there. I hadn’t bought anything, except a small bunch of red tulips. I was shivering. I had a dark red jumper and black leggings on paired with white vans. Tiredness came rushing down on me. I was crying, I knew that much. And somewhere between tears and sobs, sleep consumed me.
I couldn’t find her anywhere. She had been gloomy all day about her birthday. She had had enough grief to last her a lifetime. I feel so lonely without her. Her constant complaining about her aching limbs and the alter egoistic coach was something that kept my day lively.
I sped drove to her house and rang the bell, hiding the red tulips she loved behind me. She always avoided topics that included her house, for some reason she wouldn’t tell. A grumbling man opened the door. Grays in his hair were evident. Her father.
“Hello, Sir. I am Travis. I came here to see – ” He cut me off, rudely.
“Amber? That bitch hasn’t been home since morning. It’s almost night. What’s the time? Nine? That whore is probably sleeping around with some guy at a party or something.”
I was shocked. What kind of father was he? Who hated their own blood so much to call them names that no one deserves to be called? I stepped off the porch and left the flowers behind. I am afraid she might have done something to herself. I had to find her before she does something stupid.
She thinks she doesn’t know that I know but, I’ve seen the red cut marks on the arms.
I ran down the street twice, she was nowhere to be seen. I got into the car and drove aimlessly. I looked for her everywhere.
Maybe I was too late. I could have saved her before, confronted her before. Ever since she stepped through the school gates on her first day in sophomore year, I couldn’t get her out of my mind. She didn’t know that. Crushing sadness pained my heart. It squeezed it so much that it hurt. A lot.
I don’t know what I will do if I lose her. I can’t lose her. Never.
The next four hours flew by without a clue of Amber’s whereabouts. It was past midnight. I very bad feeling settled at the pit of my stomach. Tears were resting on my eyelids. I started hyperventilating. It was her birthday today. Where could she be? She doesn’t have many friends. But, she hated her birthdays for some reason, again something that was unknown to me.
I stopped the car when I realized that the car wasn’t allowed any further. The road was hilly and lead to the cemetery. And I was out of fuel. I will come back tomorrow to pick it up. I returned home on feet. I was sprawled on the bed, sleepless. Hours passed by and it was going to be dawn in a few minutes. My mind wandered back to the last place I checked for Amber. The cemetery.
The cemetery. Then it clicked me. She must be visiting her mother. I rushed up to the hill in my mum’s car. I parked it jaggedly near the no-parking sign and ran up. The wind was like blades against my body. Even my t-shirt and jacket couldn’t keep me warm.
Fifteen minutes passed by. There was no sight of her. I was about to return, hopeless, when I saw something moving near the three about a yard away. I quickly ran towards it.
It was her. She lay there shivering. She was not dead. I let out a sharp breath I didn’t notice I was holding in. I quickly knelt down and tried to wake her up. She was freezing. I shrugged off my jacket and wrapped it around her.
Amber woke up, with a yawn.
“Travis? Wha-wher-what are you doing here? How did you find me?” I spoke in harsh, rumbling voice. She’d caught cold. Who wouldn’t have? Tears spilled down my cheeks. I wasn’t able to see her like this. See her so broken.
My gaze fell upon the gravestone. It was her mum's. But the dates surprised me. Her mum died on her own birthday. The day Amber was born. So that's why she hated herself and her birthday so much. That's what she meant by sinning hard.
“I thought I lost you. That yo-you left me. I searched for you all night. I knew it was your birthday so I wanted to surprise you. But, you were nowhere to be f-found. Then I came here as the last resort.”
She looked shocked. I couldn’t quite read her expression.
“I-I love you. Don’t ever think about leaving me like that.” I said in one breath. Amber stared at me with wide eyes. I must have said it wrong. Maybe she didn’t feel the same. Oh God! What have I done?
“You must be cold. Come on.” We walked a few steps. We were about to reach the car when she tugged at my arm I didn’t realize I was holding her hand. I looked back.
She stepped forward and stood on her toes. Our breaths mingled together. I couldn’t move. I didn’t want it to go away. Her arms circled around my neck and pulled me so the my lips were on her.
His body went rigid. Wrong move, Amber. How do I correct this? He said he loved me. It came to me as a shock. “I love you, too. More than you know.” I whispered against his lips. He softened. He wrapped his one arm around my waist. The other cupped my cheek. He slowly reacted. His warm, sweet lips moved in sync with mine. I forgot everything. He knew about the harm I inflicted on myself. Maybe he thought I couldn’t take it anymore. But, he was wrong. I am willing to live. For Mom. For him. In his embrace. Safe and unscarred.
This was indeed a very interesting topic. I got a little carried away.ns 188.8.131.52da2