Twenty four hours after, the shooting took place at Rose County High School, I was still watching the news. No new information had been brought forth since the number of students that were dead was announced. 16 were officially dead and more injured, and I had yet to hear anything about Sophia.
Rubbing my eyes, I turned away from the TV. I couldn’t keep watching it when they didn’t know anything else, and they kept repeating the same information.
Getting up, I walked to the front window and stared out the window. How long would we have to wait until we knew for sure whether or not she was gone? I would have thought that if she was injured we would have known by now, because the hospital would have called by now because they would have been able to identify her by now.
“Sophia, are you still with us?” the thought of her being alone and scared bothered me more than I could say. I hated the not knowing, I wanted to know my sisters condition.
A sense of dread came over me when I heard the phone ringing, not wanting to interrupt my parents rest in case it wasn’t anything important, I answered quietly.
“Thomas Residence.” I spoke softly.
“We are calling to inform you that we have Sophia Thomas’ body in the morgue.” I close my eyes, tears forming in my eyes, as I take my fist and slam it into the wall. This couldn’t be happening, there was no way possible that Sophia was gone for good.
“Sir?” I heard the voice say into the phone.
“I’m still here” I mutter, feeling as if my heart and my life were falling apart. My worst nightmare was coming true and I wasn’t sure that my family could survive it. “What do you need me to do?” obviously they didn’t need me to identify her body.
“We will need for you to come and make plans for her funeral, and have her body moved to the funeral home.” the voice said robotically making me wonder if they’d ever experienced loss in their own life. I didn’t think it was possible for someone to sound so unsympathetic in my life.
“Fine” I said shortly and hung up no longer wanting to speak to the person who didn’t think my sister’s life was just another piece of meat on the table. Slamming the phone down, I went into my Dad’s library where I knew he kept his Jack Daniel’s. Getting drunk wouldn’t fix anything, but he needed to forget all about that phone call. He needed to forget the last thing he’d told his little sister before her unexpected death. He should never have said what he did, even if he didn’t like his sister’s choice in friends. Grabbing the bottle of Jack, I make my way over to the seat by the window. Sitting down I spin around so that I am facing the window, and not the rest of my father’s library.
Taking the cap off the bottle, I place the bottle at my lips and take a long swig. It burned going down, but I relished the burn. At this point anything will distract me from the pain I’m feeling and the pain I will feel when I tell my parents that their daughter will not be returning home ever again. How was one supposed to do that? To damage their own parent’s worlds to the point that nothing would ever be the same again. It wasn’t fair that I had to be the one to do that, after all I was only 21 years old, that was too much responsibility to put on my shoulders, but I would gladly bear it to know that my parents hadn’t been the one to answer the phone.
Taking another swig, I swallowed hard and before long I finished the entire bottle. Getting up I stumbled towards the cabinet, intending to find more Jack Daniel’s to drink, despite the fact that I’d just swallowed several ounces.
“Gaelyn?” I heard a voice say from the doorway, I glance up from where I’m bending over to see my father standing in the doorway. “What are you doing?”
“I thought I’d drink away the memory of knowing my sister will never grace these halls again” I offer with a grin, unaware of just how much pain I’d just caused my father.
“You know for a fact that she’s not coming home?” Gary Thomas asked, after a moment of silence.
“Some idiot, who didn’t even care that her life had been snuffed out during a school shooting called and informed me they had her body in the morgue.” I hiccupped before standing up and stumbling towards the door. “Why is it that no one else thinks her life is as important as we do?” I wince when I walked into the doorway instead of through it. “Forget it; we might as well be the only ones who care about her.”
“Just how much have you had to drink?” Gary asked frowning as he watched his son stumble around the room.
“Not enough” I grumble as I finally make it through the door. I head towards the living room, to the couch where I lay down. “Not enough to forget the words I’d told her about her best friend, that as long as Annaleigh was around I wasn’t going to come anywhere near here.” I don’t really understand why I disliked Annaleigh so much, she was just your average kid, and she had the average crush on her friend’s brother. That had annoyed me to no end; I guess because I was older and didn’t want to spend any extra time on her. The only thing that wasn’t average about her was the fact that she had spent the majority of her childhood in foster care; of course she couldn’t be blamed for that. The things Rachel had to say about her though weren’t very flattering. She’d told me that Annaleigh had gotten shipped out of her last foster home for propositioning the foster father. That hadn’t really sounded like something Annaleigh would do, considering she’d always been shy around me. Then again she’d had some time to grow up and I didn’t really know what she was capable of doing anymore. The rumors about her only got worse as she’d gotten older, Rachel told me that during Annaleigh’s freshman year, she’d gotten pregnant by a foster father and subsequently had an abortion. If there was one thing I couldn’t stand it was person who would willingly get pregnant and then kill the baby because they didn’t want the responsibility of taking care of it. After that I had stopped taking her to the park to meet with Sophia, I didn’t want my little sister to be around trash like that. She could do so much better than the little foster girl who was always in trouble.
“Son, I think you’ve had too much to drink” I heard Dad say from somewhere nearby. “I think you need to sleep it off, and let us deal with Sophia’s things tomorrow after everyone has gotten some rest.”
“Whatever” I grumble, as I drag my legs onto the couch and rest my head against the arm rest. My mind was still full of memories of Sophia, how she’d read my stories and love them as much as I did. I couldn’t see myself finishing the book I was working on, at least not anytime soon. I couldn’t see myself doing a lot of things right now, including not drinking. The buzzed feeling I had was great, I didn’t feel as miserable as I had before I’d grabbed and guzzle the bottle of Jack Daniel’s.
“We’ll talk when we get up” I hear Dad grumble but I can hear the pain in his voice, and I know he’ll go wake Mom up and tell her what I’d told him. I squeeze my eyes shut, trying to shut my mind up, as it kept recalling things about my sister that I didn’t want to think about right now.
Climbing to my feet, I head back towards the office where I know Dad has more Jack Daniel’s. There was only one way I was getting through this night with sanity intact. Finding the cabinet, I stumble my way back to Dad’s office chair, sitting down I proceed to drink myself unconscious.
When I woke up it was to a pounding head, and rolling stomach. I knew if I didn’t find a bathroom soon, I would be making a mess in Dad’s office that I didn’t want to clean up.
Struggling to get to my feet, I drag myself across the room, and down the hall to where the restroom was. Once there, I fell on my knees in front of the toilet, and proceed to heave my guts up. For a moment I couldn’t remember why I had gotten so drunk, and then I remembered Sophia Scarlett Thomas was gone. I groan and try to hold the tears back, but with the alcohol still in my system I found myself unable to hold back.
“Why?” I mumble against my arm too weak to raise my head from where it rested on my arm. “Why did two kids decide they hate the school so much that they felt they had to destroy lives to send a message?” Did anyone even get the message they were trying to send, other than the fact that they were two very messed up kids?
I would give anything if I had taken Sophia to hang out with me at college instead of sending her off to school, yesterday. If I had known then what would happen, you can bet I wouldn’t have done that, I would have made her stay with me all week. Looking back wasn’t going to do me any good, my parents would need my help in the hours to come, and being hung over wasn’t the best way to deal with the situation, but since I was, I would make the best of the situation and then later tonight I planned on getting rip roaring drunk I wouldn’t be able to remember my name by the nights end. Of course, I didn’t realize I’d set the course for the next several years just by getting drunk.
By the time I drag myself out of the bathroom, I’m still feeling pretty miserable, hangovers and grief really didn’t go well together. Not that I really cared, I just wanted to completely forget the news I had found out. No one was ever really prepared to hear that kind of news, I know I sure hadn’t been, even if I had been kind of expecting it by the time the call arrived.
Sophia wouldn’t have let us worry needlessly if she’d been alright, which is how I knew that she was gone. I drag myself into the living room, where Mom is sitting on the couch, clutching a bunch of tissues and Dad is standing by the window staring out as he spoke into the phone.
He turns as I enter the room, and nods at an empty chair; I make my way over somehow without managing to stumble. Sitting down, I stare at the floor; getting drunk hadn’t solved the problems I had to face today, but it sure had felt good to forget for a little while. I wonder briefly about Annaleigh and if she was okay. She’d been around for as long as I could remember so I couldn’t help but wonder, if she was alive and if she knew about Sophia. If she was, I could only imagine the hell she was going through with her careless foster parents.
Shaking my head I looked up at Dad, it was more than obvious he was finishing the arrangements for having her moved to a funeral home. It didn’t seem right, having to bury the youngest member of the family. There was nothing fair about it, but now the only thing we could do about it, was find some way to accept it and move on. In theory that sounds easy, but how do you move on from someone’s death when they meant the world to you? I never thought this would be a situation like this, but if it’s one thing you can expect from life; is the unexpected. What we truly want to happen very rarely occurs, and often not in the way we would like. There was nothing about this situation that I liked, what was to like about having to say goodbye to someone you thought you would have with you longer than you actually did.
A few minutes later Dad hung up the phone, and turned towards me.
“You know getting drunk isn’t going to solve anything, and I dare to wager you don’t feel so hot this morning.” I shake my head, of course not, hangovers kind of sucked but it distracted me from the hurt I was feeling, for a little while at least. “And it doesn’t change the fact that she’s gone, and we’re going to have to continue life without her.”
“I know, Dad, I know all of that, I just don’t want to think about it right now, I don’t want to feel!” I snap, my head still splitting from the amount of alcohol I had consumed. I raise my hands and rub at my forehead, hoping to alleviate the pain I was feeling both physically and emotionally.
“Son, it’s going to be hard but we’ll get through this as a family, we’re stronger together than we are apart.” Dad said, though I could hear the pain in his voice. I hated this situation even more than ever; I couldn’t see our family getting through it together. I could see us all going our separate ways to deal with it in the way we saw fit.
“I hope it won’t be easy, that would just prove how little she meant” I said from between clenched teeth. I couldn’t be here for this, discussing plans for burying my little sister. I couldn’t handle it. Standing up I leave the room and head back to the study. I didn’t need to drink anymore, and for now I didn’t plan on it, at least until I was over my current hangover.
Sitting down in dad’s chair, I placed my elbows on the desk and my head in my hands. I wanted to angry at Sophia, for leaving us in this situation, but it wasn’t her fault. She wouldn’t have left us if she’d had any other choice. It was unbelievable how much I missed her already, it was like someone had reached into my chest and dropped a bomb where my heart was, causing it to explode and destroy my heart. I’ve never felt more empty in my life, I guess I didn’t realize just how much my little sister was a part of me. Who would read my stories and love the characters as much as I do? Who would give me the feedback I was looking for when the story lines didn’t seem to work together. Sophia had been the only one I had ever shared my stories with other than my professor at school.
“Sophia,” I mumble against my arms, “Why did this have to happen now, why did it have to be you, they hated so much. You were a great person, so why did they target you to die?” I raising my head, I tighten my hand into a fist and slam it against the desk. The pain that radiated through my arm felt good. It distracted me from what I was feeling, and at that moment distraction was exactly what I needed. Distraction from the hurt and pain I was feeling was a must!