TWO DAYS AGO:
Most of the next day, Rachel spent with Hannah, who was making funeral preparations and arrangements, only nodding when Hannah asked for a suggestion and watched the day go by in a blur.
Gavin dropped by and tried to get her to talk but she wasn’t really talking. She got a few texts and a couple of calls from some people offering their condolences but Rachel was quiet during those too. By five, she was back up in her room, packing up her things in a few cardboard boxes.
She skipped dinner and fell asleep amidst the mess of clothes in her room and didn’t wake up until Nate came into her room with food and Hannah followed closely behind.
Rachel munched quietly as her god-mother-to-be rummaged through her clothes to pick something out for the funeral.
She held up a top and some jeans, “This?”
She bit her lip thoughtfully, “Yeah, maybe not…” she bent down and picked up a dress, “This?”
“For the love of God, Hannah, this isn’t prom. I’ll just wear something decent and get the damn thing over with.” She snapped.
Hannah nodded and put both things on her bed.
Nate glared at Rachel.
“Sorry… I’m just-“
“It’s okay, sweetie. I understand.” She smiled.
“No, Hannah, really … I shouldn’t have snapped… I’ll wear the dress and some leggings, thanks.”
She bent down and kissed her forehead, “Its fine. Do you need help packing?”
Rachel looked around, “Yeah, I guess I could use a little help…” she admitted.
“We’ll kick Nate out after you’re done eating.”
Nate looked offended and Rachel smiled for their sake.
ONE DAY AGO:
This morning, Rachel had gotten ready for the funeral and waited in the car for the couple to come outside. Gavin joined her, looking extremely unlike himself in a simple suit and his otherwise unruly black hair looking somewhat combed. He offered her a small smile and asked her if she was doing okay. She gritted her teeth and tired not to yell at him.
She was sick the sympathy and the sorry faces and all the pity and people telling her that everything was gonna be okay. But the most annoying part was the three word sentence that was on the tip of everyone’s tongue: “Are you okay?”
“I swear, Gavin, you ask me if I’m doin’ okay one more time, I will punch you.”
“Rachel, I’m just concerned, okay?” The blue eyed boy stated, running a hand through his hair, messing it up again.
“No! It’s not okay! People are stupid! They think that asking me if I’m okay is gonna help! Like it’s a crime to even try and feel okay. I just lost my Nanna; of course I’m perfectly fine!” Rachel rolled her eyes.
“Sorry.” He mumbled and nodded to Nate, who was making his way down the steps with Hannah.
Rachel was silent once more, staring out the window and thinking about what was left of her family. There was only Nate and Hannah … Gavin was family too, considering how they have absolutely no boundaries and they’re closer than siblings can be.
Nate Marvin, her god-father. Who was a tall, middle aged man with tanned skin, dark brown hair that was never longer than half an inch, eyes dark and honest and a hoarse voice that scared Gavin off the first time he met him. Most people were slightly intimidated by him, but Nate wasn’t scary at all once you got to know him, he smiled too much for someone who looked so intimidating.
Hannah, Nate’s fiancée, had striking grey eyes and dirty blonde hair, she had a beautiful smile, was too polite for her own good and couldn’t cook for the life of her. Hannah had been part of Rachel’s life for almost six years, they hit it off from the very start, taught her how to play chess, do her makeup just right and perfected Rachel’s hand on the blasted eyeliner. Rachel once threatened Nate to marry Hannah or else she was switching god-parents. Thankfully, six years later, there’s an engagement ring on her finger which was due to be replaced with a wedding ring by the end of the year.
Gavin was the messy kid in third grade that had the worst spelling in the entire class. Rachel was the loud, equally messy kid that the teachers adored because she was at the top of her class. Gavin hated her and Rachel couldn’t stand anyone hating her. So eight year old Rachel made it her goal to make sure they were friends by the end of the year. It took her two years instead, but they got there and they’ve been inseparable ever since.
Nanna was the only person close to a mother in her life. Nanna had auburn hair that had had streaks of grey in it for as long as she could remember. She was smart and easy going but could be terrifying when she wanted to and had a solution to every problem. She was never too hard on Rachel and tried to be more of a friend than a guardian. Rachel had always known that her situation wasn’t like other children’s. She didn’t have a mom and dad like most kids in class, instead, she had a Nanna and a Nate, and that had always seemed like the much better situation. She was lucky. She’d known it.
That was where her immediate family drew to a close, everyone else: every friend, every distant relative stayed at a comfortable distance. Rachel didn’t need anyone else. She had other friends … but the people that really counted ended right there.
And now one was gone, and there was a gaping hole where Nanna once was and Rachel felt lost and very, very hollow.
During the eulogy, Rachel’s voice cracked and she decided to shorten it and get off the stage before the waterworks started.
She stepped off and Gavin was looking at her with pity resonating from his eyes.
“Rachel, you sure you’re -”
Next thing she knew, white hot pain shot through her hand as it connected with Gavin’s jaw. Her hand stayed where it was but Gavin stumbled backwards. It hurt more than she had expected it to. They make it look so easy in the movies.
Her hand was stinging. She brought it up to eye level to inspect the bruising knuckles.
She felt everyone’s gaze fixated on her. Rachel turned around and left, wandering the church yards, kicking at the ground and eventually sitting down on a stone bench.
Rachel just kept thinking of what lay ahead.
An “institute” that was supposed to be her new home; an orphanage. The only reason she was going was because she didn’t have a choice.
One main reason she was almost allergic to that place was her father. The man who went AWOL a month after her mother passed away. Rachel was just three.
So, why on earth should she even consider fulfilling his wishes? Leaving a nanny and a fortune for Rachel, that was all the regard he had for her.
Rachel just didn’t want to put Nate in a difficult situation. He fulfilled his duty as godfather for 16 years, the guy deserved a break. Maybe he could get married in peace now…
She pressed forward and skipped a song that was too upbeat for her mood. Music provided her with a distraction, something to make it all go away, albeit temporarily. There was that, and painting, a safe haven. The colors providing release, every stroke an outpour of emotion.
Rachel stared at the ceiling, the thoughts drifting from Nanna’s death to her absent father to someplace safe. Restless now more than ever, she got out of bed and went to the roof and swung her legs over the edge.
Nanna always said that she was a lot like her mother.
She had her attitude. And her auburn hair. So that means she probably got the eyes from her father.
Nanna mentioned her mother used to sing a lot, she sketched, played guitar and loved poetry. She used to say that her mother had an artist’s soul.
And though Rachel never knew what her mother looked like or anything about her, doing the things her mother used to love made her feel some sort of connection with her, just something to make her mother feel like less of a stranger.
The stars were out that night and she sat there; legs dangling off the edge, for hours. Her heart feeling heavy as she memorized the way the city looked before her. Lights sparkling beyond like a handful of cheap jewelry scattered on the ground.
The horizon began to grow brighter and the girl sucked in a deep breath, the last sunrise she would see from this roof, this house ... This town. She huffed and got off the edge, she had to go talk to Nate. Again.
Rachel tiptoed downstairs and knocked on the bedroom door, opening it when Hannah yelled out a “come in!”
“Hey guys…” She sat down on the bed, hands immediately tracing the pattern on the comforter. Nate sat down beside her, “What’s up?”
“I’m almost packed now… Just a few more boxes left and then I guess I’m headed to Jameson.”
Stunned silence prevailed for a few moments until Rachel looked up at the couple, “What?”
They broke into identical smiles, which would have been slightly creepy if she hadn’t known them for so long, “Thank you.” Nate hugged her after which Hannah pushed him aside and embraced her, “Our brave girl.”
“Yeah, yeah, you two are just happy to get rid of me.”
“Are not!” Nate protested.
“It’s not like I had a choice anyways.”
Nate sighed, “I’m sorry”
Rachel smiled, genuinely smiled after what felt like too long, she reached out and hugged them again and asked, “Will you visit?”
Nate stroked her hair, “promise”