Negative Zero (Book 1)

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Chapter 19: Tears of the Sky

Chapter Nineteen Tears of the Sky

It was officially moving day. Hayden and I had mostly everything packed before we’d leave the next morning. It was going to be a long drive down to Georgia, and as that reality sank in, I realized there was one thing I would be leaving behind; something I couldn’t pack to take with me.

I took the pony to Rose Hill Cemetery, a place I hadn’t entered for over a year. I sat on the grass in front of her stone, my fingers tracing the relief of her name: Nora Eden Stormer. The dark granite gleamed in the soft light of the setting sun.

Hi Mom,” I choked out. “I know I don’t come out here much....” I paused briefly, knowing fully well I should edit my comment. “Okay, so I never come out here,” I said guiltily, “but you always did tell me that you’d be with me no matter where I was, right?”

I tried to smile as I traced the butterfly engraved in the stone next to her name. I remembered insisting that she have that stone, no matter what the cost. It didn’t matter.

I recalled the times when I was little, questioning death so much. My mother would assure me that she’d always be wherever I was. I truly wanted to believe that then and found myself trying even harder to keep that same belief as I sat there staring at her name in the stone. Certain things I grew up believing as truths were becoming far less believable.

I tasted the salty tear that hit my lips. “I just wanted you to know that I’m okay, but you know that already, don’t you?” I closed my eyes, trying to imagine her sitting there with me. “I miss you so much, Mom.” I inhaled the air around me. The scent of her hair – a strawberry crème shampoo – filled my olfactory sense, and I gasped. It hit me just as powerfully as the time Hayden took me to the memory realm while I was in the hospital. My eyes flipped open, and I turned my head every which way to find her, but there was no physical presence for me to see. Nothing but flowers and headstones and grass. Miles and miles of grass. But I knew she was there with me, I sensed her.

We’re taking off tomorrow,” I told her. “Hayden and I picked up my Mustang a few days ago,” I nodded to the parked pony a few yards away. “And it is fast.” I forced a laugh. “Only God knows why he let me get the thing.”

I could almost hear her sweet laughter surround me. I imagined her soft face and warming smile, which made me tighten my jaw to keep from crying. I bit the inside of my bottom lip so hard I made it bleed as I thought of her last breaths in my arms. I didn’t want to remember her that way, but that image would never go away, no matter how hard I tried to picture the greater moments with her.

I laid my head against the granite. It was cold against my cheek and made me shiver for a moment. I pretended it was her, as it was the only physical thing related to her I had near me.

“I’m trying, Momma,” I choked out, “but I can’t let this go. I know what you would tell me. I know exactly what you would say to me if you were right here. You want me to forgive and let this all go and move on, but I can’t, and I don’t think I ever will.”

The light droplets of rain started to fall on my cheek. As always, I let it.

It seemed as though the rain knew when I was sad, when I felt despair. I imagined, as it fell, that it was its attempt to comfort me, the only way it knew how. Just like Hayden would put music on or turn off the lights to make it dark or just hold me while I cried, the rain fell upon me right on cue.

“Please be sure to come with me, Mom,” I whispered to her stone. “I need you wherever I go. You were my rock. My anchor. My strength, but I’ve lost it.” I squeezed my eyelids shut once again. “I feel like I’ve been dead inside for so long because everything I have goes away,” I cried. “And it feels so dark where I am.”

I stretched the sleeve of my jacket over my hands and wiped away the tears, recalling the soft skin of Hayden’s hands stopping the streams of salt water right in their tracks. An absolute truth that I was about to admit aloud, “Hayden is the only reason I’m even alive.”

I curled up onto the wet grass over her grave and hoped she could hear me, see me, feel me. I pulled at the grass inches from my face and imagined her life stemming through it. “Please just be my strength again,” I whispered. “I love you and I need you more than ever right now.”

I heard and felt the rain fall harder then, weighing my hair down, along with my clothes. I played a soft melody in my head, one that I’d written for her for Mother’s Day when I was ten years old. I sneaked down to the piano late the night before and held down the softening pedal so as not to wake her up. I remember playing it for her in the morning, making her cry. The melody carried a slightly sad tone with it for me while I lay there playing it through my head. It was the soundtrack to my mother’s life and had more meaning to me then as I remembered her.

I heard the engine of his Harley and opened my eyes to see him pull up behind the Mustang. He walked toward me with an unopened, black umbrella. His walk wasn’t urgent, so I didn’t feel any alarm. He just kept his eyes on me and approached me with a quiet grace. I waited for him to say, “Let’s go” or “We need to get out of this rain,” but he didn’t. His deep green eyes just locked with mine as he got closer. There was a sadness in them that empathized with my own.

The angel hoisted the umbrella open to shield us both. He sat down next to me, leaning his back against the stone, sheltering us from the sky’s tears.

His gesture warmed me instantly and my instincts brought me up into his lap. I leaned my ear against his chest; the body of my angel. My safehouse. His patience awed me, and his steady breathing calmed me. And even though Hayden would always say the most perfect words at the most perfect moments, he somehow knew that his saying nothing at all was what I really needed to hear the most.

I was able to reflect in that cemetery, in my angel’s arms and among the dead, counting the minutes I had left until they would appear. I felt a strong and sudden abhorrence overtake me as I thought of the many that were still out there waiting for me to save them.

The darkness from the setting of the sun fell upon us, instilling a seed of worry within me as I wondered what was to become of me in the days ahead. It was something I feared – the uncertainties – because I knew that they were inescapable.

And just as I’d felt my storm was coming once before, I sensed the eye of that storm was near . . . .and I was heading straight for it.

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