This is the 34th installment of my new book, Lost Days. The book will be released the first week of December. I’ll also hold a drawing for a free laptop computer shortly after that. Join the Lost Days Facebook group to get updates on rules and news.
Ginger looked beautiful. I’m sure I was the only one who thought so because as far as I could tell no one seemed as fixated on her as I was. She was still… dumpy, her posture, her build, her overall demeanor was no different than she had been before. It was her eyes that were somehow different. They were big, and bold, soaking in the sadness of the moment, and not letting it go. It was a look of total devastation, and while that shouldn’t have been beautiful to me, it was. She loved her mother so much it damaged her knowing she would never see her again. I found it reassuring that someone could love another person so much. I thought I loved my mother and little brother that much, and even Nana Taffy and granddaddy, too. But I knew I wouldn’t ever be sure until I stood in a cemetery staring at one of their caskets. That’s the hell of it, as my granddaddy would say. You don’t know how much you love somebody until they can’t love you back. Realizing this, I started to cry in big painful sobs. Everyone around me assumed I was crying for Ginger and her family, but I wasn’t. I was crying for me, and when that thought occurred to me, I cried even harder for being such a selfish brat.
After Ginger’s little brother threw his rose on top of the casket, the family walked away in a huddled mass. Ginger caught a quick glance of me and attempted a smile. I nodded and attempted one back. I was sorry the school had let us all attend. Everyone but me was there for the wrong reason. You wouldn’t think a thing like that mattered, but it did.
Joyner put his arm around me and lead me across the cemetery grounds towards his father’s truck. It felt good being nestled up against him. Someone who felt this good couldn’t be bad.
I saw someone approach out of the corner of my eye and was relieved to see Owen. He was wearing a pressed black suit. I did a little double take when I saw him. His eyes were puffy and red.
“You been crying?” Danny Perry asked Owen holding back a giggle.
“No,” Owen insisted.
He had been. I knew it. Anyone with half a brain knew it. “You changed,” I said.
“Figured you were right,” he said. “Called mom from school and she brushed off my one and only suit for me. Doesn’t really fit.” He tugged on the collar.
“Looks nice,” I said.
“Yeah,” Denise said. “You look like a normal person.”
“Normal person who cries,” Danny said.
Joyner slapped his shoulder. “Shut up, dude.”
Danny flinched and rubbed his shoulder. “Jeez, I’m just jerking his chain.”
“Well, don’t,” Joyner growled.
Owen looked appreciative but confused by Joyner’s action. He cleared his throat and said, “I gotta go.” He looked at me. “Saw your grandparents. They asked if you were here. Maybe you can catch a ride home with them.” He gave me a very serious look. “Unless you’re riding home with Teddy.”
My heart began to thump.
Joyner didn’t even acknowledge that Owen had referred to him as Teddy. He just said, “Sure I can give you a ride home.”
“Yeah,” Denise said. “Let’s ride home with the guys.”
“No,” I barked. “We’ll get my grandparents to take us home.”
Denise grabbed my arm. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”
I gently released myself from her grasp. “In the car…” I turned to look for Nana Taffy and granddaddy.
“Over there,” Owen said pointing to my right.
I followed his finger and saw them talking to some people in the neighborhood that I had seen a few times before. I had to keep myself from taking off in a dead sprint towards them. I awkwardly said goodbye to Joyner and yanked Denise along with me as I stumbled in my high heels across the uneven grass to join my grandparents. I glanced over my shoulder once and noticed Joyner staring at me with a raised eyebrow. Somewhere in my panicked flee, Owen managed to leave without me noticing. He was nowhere to be seen. When we reached Nana Taffy and granddaddy, I wanted to collapse into their arms. I felt as if I had narrowly escaped with my life. I wanted them to hold me and tell me everything would be alright. Instead, I greeted them as if nothing was wrong. The guy I was falling for had something to do with the three goons who broke into Uncle Crew’s room, and could very well have something to do with the death of the woman who’s funeral we’d attended. But I couldn’t tell them any of that. I just smiled and for the first time in my life wanted desperately to see Uncle Crew.