Life and Death
Death.... It’s funny how quickly things can change, one minute you’re just a normal sixteen year old girl, then five minutes later it feels like your whole world has been turned completely upside down. That moment you see on films when someone answers the door and there are two police officers there. That actually happens in real life, it’s exactly what it’s like.
“Are you Alexia Johnson?” A plump middle aged officer asks.
“Can we come inside, we have some bad news, is there someone we can call.....”
I didn’t really hear the rest of what they said, Aunt Sara had to repeat everything to me later on that night.
Eight days later here I am, sat in the car not wanting to get out. If I get out and go over there then it’s actually real, what those officers said, had really happened.
Mum and dad really are dead.
Looking down at my only formal black dress that was in my wardrobe, I find myself thinking that I wish I had something better to wear, my parents deserved something better than a dress that’s been hanging in a wardrobe for the past year without even being considered worth wearing. I don’t suppose what I’m wearing really matters though does it?
Slowly getting out of the car, I start walking to where my parents will be laid to rest, Aunt Sara grabs my hand for support but I can’t really feel it, everything still feels numb. I wonder if this feeling will ever go away? Will I always have this pain in my chest. I find myself thinking of the future, my mum won’t get to see me going to my senior prom, my dad won’t ever get to walk me down the aisle, I mean who will do that now? I don’t have any grandparents left alive, no uncles, no one apart from Aunt Sara....
Ok Alex, get a grip, I can do this. Stop thinking of the future and concentrate on now . The only problem is that what is about to happen, I think is actually worse than what’s to come.
We come to a stop beside a large hole in the ground.
I can’t call it that, it’s a hole. A deep dark hole. I can tell they tried to make it not look like a fresh hole by putting that fake green grass around the edges so you can’t see the dirt, but what’s the point? I mean it’s a hole, it’s there for one purpose.
To bury my parents.
“It’s a beautiful day today isn’t it?”
Did I really just hear someone say that? A beautiful day? A beautiful day? I want to scream at them, it’s not a beautiful day, it’s a horrid day! This is the worst day of my life, it’s a funeral, two people are dead! Actually five people are dead if you include the people in the other car that crashed head on with my parents car. How can people think anything about today is beautiful?
I can’t pay attention to what’s being said or what’s going on. I can see people going up to the hole and throwing flowers in. I can feel Aunt Sara tugging on my hand to get me to do the same, I know my feet are moving but I don’t really feel completely with it. I can feel my hand stretch forward and I can see the flower in my hand. This is it. It’s real. It actually happened.
My parents are actually gone. I’m officially an orphan.
My fingers slowly open and I release my hold on the flower. It seems to take hours to float down the hole, finally it lands on top of the coffin, and although it’s just a single flower that I know isn’t very heavy, it somehow makes the loudest thump in my head as it lays down mixed in with the others. Like a clock striking the hour, it rings in my head and blots out everything else.
Aunt Sara lived in a small town in the middle of nowhere, literally, nowhere. I had never even visited her there with my parents. She always came to us. She moved away about 6 years ago, not long after my grandmother died. She was an artist, and to be honest she was a good artist, and made a good living out of it, she had exhibited at several major galleries and got good reviews, so I suppose the reason why she moved to River Falls, makes sense. For her.
But now, as I have no other family, still a minor and an orphan, I have to move there too. Aunt Sara keeps telling me that I will love it there, so peaceful and quiet. Good to clear my head she says. I don’t want to tell her that my head is already empty. Has been since the funeral. I’m just moving around and doing things on autopilot. It took a few weeks after the funeral to clear the house of what we wanted to keep and what needed to go to goodwill. Walking around it while it was empty was strange. I kept trying to remember what it was like with furniture, music, laughter, my parents, but I just couldn’t seem to get my head to focus properly.
After a five hour drive in a rented car, because Aunt Sara had flown in when she heard the news, we were finally in my new home town. River Falls. A place where I could start again. A place where people wouldn’t look at me with pity in their eyes, and keep asking me how I’m doing. I lost count of the amount of food that we threw away because people obviously think that when your parents die, you forget how to cook.
I have to admit though that it is beautiful here. Driving past huge forest trees, it’s just green everywhere, I’ve never seen so much green. There’s not a beach in sight though, that is the only problem I can see so. I love the beach, having it right outside your front door for the past sixteen years, it’s going to be strange now to not smell or hear the ocean.
In the distance above the trees there are the most majestic looking mountains, if I was an artist like Aunt Sara I would want a blank canvas to paint those mountains every day, and I’m sure I wouldn’t get bored of painting them.
Driving further into town Aunt Sara points out little restaurants and a café, a bookshop, hardware shop, convenience store and a boutique. That pretty much makes up the whole town. Apart from the bookshop I can’t really see a reason for me to ever make a trip into town.
Aunt Sara’s house is a little further outside of town, if I was driving myself I’m sure I would have missed the turning for her drive, a small bumpy dirt road leads the way through more trees and then comes to a stop outside a cute little two storey, white and sage green painted house. It looks like it belongs next to the beach, so I guess that maybe Aunt Sara and I actually do have something in common. Aunt Sara’s truck is parked next to the house, it’s a stick shift she told me on the way here, so I’m going to have to learn how to drive it before I can use it to drive myself to school. That’s if I can make myself drive it. It’s not as new as the rental but I actually prefer it. It has character.
The house has a wrap around porch that I could imagine myself sitting out on one of the sofas, wrapped in a blanket at night, reading a book or just thinking, you know ‘clearing my head’.
Aunt Sara looks at me.
“Home sweet home.” She gives me a half smile, Not really reaching her eyes. I know she is struggling with her sisters death, I’ve heard her crying a few times at night. But she never cries in front of me. I think she thinks she has to be strong for me, now she is my legal guardian.
I give her a half smile back and for the first time since those officers came and knocked on my front door, I feel like I could actually, maybe start to think about living a life again and not just continue being the shell of a person I am right now.