This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
February 20, 2222
“Hey,” I whispered, to James. As quietly as I could, I shut the door and make my way towards him.
He turns around and gives me an odd expression “what’s that for?” I say as I walk up behind him smiling.
James taps his figure on his watch “your late. Again”. I give him a peaty smile “sorry, I just need to see her”.
The sunset is my favorite time of day to go and visit my mother’s grave, the lights and colors remind me of heaven.
Taking my hand in his, James apologizes “I’m sorry”
I smile “thanks”.
Tory our group grief concealer is in the middle of addressing the group, she had her back turned to the room so I had a chance to sit down unnoticed. I tiptoe, holding my bags in the air so they wouldn’t bump any chairs Risking the chance of me being heard. I hold my breath as I made my way through them, towards James.
I must have looked pretty silly, James smiles at me and holds in a small laugh. I watched him
and Our eyes meet, freezing everything, for a fraction of a second, is was just me and him.
Then as delicately as I can, I placed my bag on the floor trying as hard as I could not make a sound.
Currently, the only sound was Tory talking, and I’d like to keep it that way. I grab my chair, keeping my eyes on Tory; her back is still turned.
Tory’s parents died when she was just a baby, so she grew up with her, mothers only sister. Since she spends her whole life taking care of Tory, her aunt never married. A few years ago her aunt got sick, they still don’t know what made her so sick. After years of suffering in the hospital, her aunt begged Tory to let her go and told her she would be fine without her. Tory says that was the hardest and worst thing she ever had to do.
I slowly and carefully slide into the empty seat next to James - he had no doughty been saving for me when I arrived – as discreetly and as quietly as I could.
Liz sits on the other side of me, she smiles at my presents. From her cheery and upbeat personality, you would never guess that Liz lost both her parents; she never had a mom, lived with her dad alone in a two bedroom apartment. One day about six months ago. well, he was off duty. She and her father saw someone getting mugged and told her dad to stop. He got out of the car and before either of them knew what happened he was fatally shot in the chest.James hands me the papers everybody was given at the start of the session.
Everybody has their eyes glued to their sheets, following along as if their lives depended on it, except for Pete.
His eyes are wandering around the room, clearly wanting to get out as soon as he can. He has the saddest story of us all in my eyes;
One night his parents decided they needed to go out. Pete had gotten into a fight with them early that day, so neither of them said goodbye to each other. Then at three-thirty in the morning, Pete got a knock at the door. It was an officer informing him that his parents drowned after driving off a bridge (nobody knew to label it as suicide or not).
Smiling at him, I looked at my own paper. Each week we receive a new way that may help us handle our grief better.
As I read, a small crying noise came from someone in the room. I look around and see that it’s Will.
He and his mom had never been that close, up until his father got sick and they started reconnecting, It wasn’t until his father died from cancer a couple weeks ago that they finally accepted that they needed each other more than ever. He’s the newest member of our group and may just be as unstable as me.“Today we’re discussing ways to grief using prayer” Heather announces, I’d be more into it if I hadn’t already tried it.
A hand fly’s up and I look over to see that it’s Heather. Tory stops and smiles at Heather “yes Heather?” without being asked to Heather stands up “I don’t want to pray” she says with no emotion what so ever. Tory stands also and walks over to Heather “are you sure?” she says trying to sound sincere. Nodding Heather sits down “alright” you can tell she’s disappointing, but brushes it off just the same;
Heather’s never believed in God, she thinks that if there is so all mighty God he/she wouldn’t have driven her father to drink. One night her parents were arguing. Something along the lines of “you drink too much” and “you’re never there for us anymore” the fight ended with her mother slapping her dad across the face. He became so enraged that he brought out his shotgun and shot her, then after realizing what he did shot himself. Leaving Heather an orphan.
She thinks that the only higher power is the devil, considering how many of us there are in this room I think she may me right.
“okay everybody” my eyes pulls towards Tory as she starts talking “let’s discuss the first step”, her eyes fall on me “Haley, why don’t you start”. I sigh, I’m busted. Whenever I’m late, Heather makes me read out loud. Most would call it a punishment, but she calls it ‘trying to help me out of my shell’
James lets out another giggle and I smack him playfully, “of course” I say, ignoring James.
Taking a deep breath, I stand up and read;
Step One: If you are facing the loss of a loved one, or some other kind of shock or trouble, life can suddenly feel confusing and deeply upsetting. Gathered together, on this page are a number of resources that remind us of God’s love and comfort in these difficult times. They’re two modern prayers and one traditional prayer.
The group is completely silent, taking in all the words. Slowly I sit down.
James smiles and nudges me, I smile and nudge him back.
Tory stands and walks to the middle of the room “Thank you Haley.” everybody nods and smiles at me.
“I’ll read out the first prayer and then we’ll start our weekly activity” Tory continues. This makes me smile, all our weekly activity are fun and don’t require too much inner pain.
We all close our eyes as Tory starts the prayer;
Comfort me with Your love O God
Wrap me up in Your strong embrace
Shelter me from the storm O Lord
Envelop me in Your tender care
By day I pour out my heartbreak to You
By night I give you my racing thoughts
In You I take refuge
In You, I will not be afraid
For you hold me strong, You hold me safe
Calm my fearful heart O, God
Still my anxious mind O Lord
For all my life is found in You
All my being is given to You
All my hope begins in You
Nobody claps or says anything at the end of the prayer, we just look at each other and smile.
Tory goes to the back of the room and grabs the paper for our weekly assignments “Haley” she calls out, well assembling the pile in the back of the room.
I sigh at James and walk over to Tory “what up?” I say faking my best smile.
Tory takes my hand in hers “are you okay? This is the fourth time you’ve been late this month”. I know what she’s referring to. I don’t like lying to Tory, but having to express my feeling isn’t something I feel like doing right now, so I decide to lie “Of course and I’m sorry for being late”. We both know I’m lying, but only one of us care enough to make me tell the truth “Haley, I know this is a particularly hard time for you and you know I’m here for you” I nod “yeah, I know”. I’m pulled into a hug “your not alone, there people here who are going through exactly what you’re going through”.
I look at James smiling “if you’re not going to let me in, at least let James in” Tory whispers to me.
We both know I confined in James more than anybody “Okay” I say honestly, it’s probably the first honest thing I’ve said all session and meant.
She drops my hand “help me with these”, she hands me the papers.
After the class, James and I head to the library to do research. This week’s project was to pick one of our departed parents and do a project on them since some of us don’t really know anything about them.
Besides knowing how they died, I don’t know anything else about either of our parents. “So what were your parents like?” I ask James as we sit at the computer. James frowns at the question “I’m sorry, you don’t have to...” “No it’s okay” James replies, he’s an even worse liar than me. I grab his hand and squeeze it “they were my parents. Dad taught me how to do manly stuff and mom... She was just incredible, I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world”.
He starts laughing “she used to try to teach me how to bake, the lessons didn’t really pay off I still suck at it”
One night James went out to go to a party, he didn’t want to wake up his parents so he left after they went to sleep. Well at the party a bunch of firetrucks passed by, but he was too drunk to care. Hours later after the party was over, James was told that his house had caught fire and neither one of his parents had made it out. The worst part was they had found his mom clutching the family photo album, if she hadn’t tried to grab it, she probably would have made it out.
This makes me cry and smile all at once, the pictures of my mom pop into my head and I cry even harder “Haley I didn’t mean to...” I shake him off “it’s okay, I just miss her and hearing you and how much you miss your mom. I don’t understand, why terrible things happen to us?” James grabs me and hugs me “I don’t know, I really don’t”.
We hold each other until we know it’s time to let go “we should get back to work” I say wiping away my tears.
Clicking the mouse, I turn on my computer and bring up Google. Taking a deep breath between every click, I type in my mother’s name;
Samantha St. Vaughn.
To my surprise not a lot of answers come up, I click on the first link and hold my breath. The first page is a copy of her death certificate.
I already know how she died;
on the night she had me, we returned home and the nurses called letting her know she had forgotten her wallet in the hospital room. Knowing she needed, my mother drove back to the hospital – tired and still groggy from the medical – hours later after she didn’t come back, my father called the hospital, they told him that she had never made it.
The next day they found her car wrapped around a telephone poll, she was dead.
When I can no longer look at the last piece of her life, I hit the tab button and search; Death reports for Samantha St. Vaughn.
I turned away from my computer and shut my eyes, I sit there
wondering if I could really handle doing this. I mean being told one thing, but then actually seeing it are two entirely different things. The pictures, I’d already seen them, but these would
be the ones that were taken before he got there. The close up ones down by a professional zoomed in by someone so immune to this sort of thing he could get as close as he wanted and not even flinch a figure muscle. I know it’s crazy, but I want to see those ones. Imagine how she felt right before she died.
I take a deep breath and look back at the screen, but instead of seeing photos of a car accident, I see a still woman lying in a hospital bed. Zooming in on her face I see that; it’s my mother. Confused I add in the caption ‘car accident’, but nothing comes up. My figure scrolls through the rest of the page and I realize something; she didn’t die in a car accident.
I Read through the statements and comments from my father. My body starts to freeze up and I can’t move “Haley” James says well he gently shakes me “Haley, talk to me”, I start shaking my head and tears start pouring out.
James cups my hand in his “Haley, come on say something”. Taking a deep breath, I breath out the words that have been floating around in my head “it’s all my fault”. An arm comes around me “what?” James asks me concerned. I nod “It’s all my fault” I stare into James eyes “I killed her James”.
His whole body is once again around mine “what does the report say?” James asks.
I move over and let him read.
Hearing him gasp breaks my heart and all I want to do is run away “Haley, this isn’t your fault”. The tears continue to pour out “yes it is”.
My father comes into my head and I think about running into his arms, then I realize “he lied to me”.
James and my eyes make direct contact
“my father knew the truth and he lied right to my face”.
The only parent I have left, the one person who I trusted my life with.
Lied to me.
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