Let me not know, since happy some have died
Quickly in youth or quietly in age,
How faint, how loud the bravest hearts have cried
--James Elroy Flecker
The sky was looking ominously purple on this gloomy autumn morning as if heaven seemed also grieving for the young lady who was standing in front of the wet burial ground. Her slim figure was clothed in a simple black knee-length dress adorned with the same color of veil, covering part of her beautiful yet pale face.
Deelara Harrington, or people called her Lara, stared at the simple epitaph of her mother. IN LOVING MEMORY: THERESA HARRINGTON.
Gradually she went down kneeling to place a bouquet of Lilies on the tombstone. A sad smile formed on her face thinking how her mother had reached her final journey to be with her husband. As long as she could’ve remembered, her parents had always been together until she’d been ten years old, when her father had died because of his terminal illness. Since then, there had been only her and her mother. Life had never been easy. Her mother’s anguish had been beyond normal that had forced Lara to grow up more mature compared to anyone of her age who had been only a teenager during the beginning of the painful process when she’d taken a full responsibly to take care the household and also her mother’s health without complained.
Barely she’d heard any laughter she’d used to hear before her father had passed away. Theresa Harrington had spent most of her time in grief and had never found peace, though there’d had been sweet moment for mother and daughter, especially when they’d talked both of their favorite topic, none other than her father. Deep in her heart, Lara had known although both of her parents had loved her, yet there’d been when she’d felt being left out. She envied their closeness. It’d seemed even death couldn’t even have separated them apart. And now her mother finally could be together with her father, though it’d never been the way she’d expected how her mother had left her.
On that faithful afternoon, two days ago, Lara had been getting ready for her work as a part-time employee at some local fast-food restaurant when the door of their house had been knocked. Reluctantly she’d opened and found the two faces of gloomy policemen standing before her.
Since then it seemed as if the world had revolved very slowly. Her feet had glued and barely could’ve stirred the muscles when she’d heard the news.
Her mother, had been the victim of the robbery turned to bad. She’d just stepped out from the bus she’d ridden on the way back to their place when unexpectedly a man had appeared from nowhere and robbed her. And when she’d fought to defend herself, the thief had stabbed her several times before he’d pushed her to the curb, leaving her bleeding. People had tried to save her and he’d been in the critical condition by multiple wounds, unfortunately she’d passed away on the way to the hospital.
Lara had heard one of the policemen had asked her whether she’d any relatives to accompany her. Mutely she’d shaken her head. She had nobody in this world besides her mother. She had one best friend, Abby that she could’ve relied on but definitely no relatives as both of her late parents had been the only children also.
She hadn’t even remembered how the policemen had driven her to the hospital then led her to the mortuary to identify her mother. However the numbness had replaced by the horror that had engulfed her the moment she’d entered the low temperature mortuary room and looked at her mother’s body lain on the cold steel divan, covered by white cloth until her chest. There had been no sign of blood or anything. Her pale face had been already cleaned and her eyes had been shut, somehow she’d looked so peaceful as if she’d been contented to wherever she’d been. Kneeling down besides her mother form, Lara had held her mother icy cold hand. Tears had begun to flow on her face for the first time, she’d started to cry uncontrollably calling out her mother.
“Ma, please wake up… please.” Lara had sobbed. “Please don’t leave me, why are you being so selfish leaving me alone? Ma, please don’t do this to me… Please… I still need you. Please wake up ma, wake up… ” Her voice had begun to squeak begging her mother to wake up, yet her mother’s eyes had remained sealed and heaven had remained unmoved. Rising from her knees, she then had started to shake her mother’s body, feeling dissatisfied. “This can’t be happening…” She’d softly muttered, the tears had kept on rolling down on her cheeks and one by one had been falling on her mother’s pale hands.
One of the forensic doctors, who had been present in the room, had helped her from behind when Lara had been staggered. “I’m sorry for you lost, Ms. Harrington.”
Lara had shaken her head again. “No…” She’d whimpered. “I don’t understand, why she…” Wavering, she’d swallowed, unable to complete her question. Honestly it’d been no point to ask. Everything had happened.
“Ms. Harrington…” One of the policemen had approached her. “I was informed that you don’t have any relatives, but I took liberty to call one of your friend.”
Lara had looked at the good-natured man. “My friend?” She’d asked, not realizing she’d been led to walk out from the room.
“Yes, her name’s Abigail Rhodan, if I’m not mistaken.” He’d informed her as he’d placed her on the white wooden hospital bench.
“A… Abby?” She’d whispered.
“Yes, Ms. Harrington.” He’d nodded, placing himself next to her. “I think you need to know also that we’ve caught the person who has attacked your mother, he’s under arrest now.”
Lara had closed her eyes, honestly, she hadn’t cared that the police had caught the man who’d been responsibility for the attack, or the tales and the reason why that man had taken her mother’s life away, or how that man had morosely regretted what had happened. Those hadn’t been mattered because no one could’ve brought back her mother to life.
The policeman had squeezed her hand gently; Lara had opened her eyes. “Is there anything I can do for you?”
Lara had swallowed and had about begun to reply when vaguely she’d heard a familiar female voice had called out her name.
“Lara…” Abby, her best friend, had been walking rushing along the corridor of the hospital.
“Abby….” Lara had stood from the bench.
Quickly within seconds Abby had hauled Lara in her embrace. “I’m so sorry, I came the moment I heard the news.” She’d muttered and had clasped Lara in her bosom again. Abby had shared her pain and her sorrow. They’d sobbed in each other arms, not knowing that the nice policeman who’d accompanied her had left them quietly behind.
Abby then had released their embrace; she’d pulled Lara back to the bench. “I’ll take care of everything, okay?” She’d told her, wiping the hot tears that had kept falling down on Lara’s cheeks. “Let me handle everything, okay. You don’t have to do anything. I’ll help you get through this.”
Lara had nodded mutely. She couldn’t have been able to form any word. Her throat had felt dry, she couldn’t have even told her how she’d appreciated Abby’s effort.
Yes, Abby had been the one who had helped her through the heartache ordeal. She’d taken care of Lara, accompanied her at night and made sure she’d taken her meals properly. Abby also had arranged all the preparations for the funeral.
Lara on the other side, had been lost. For her, everything had seemed so unclear as if she’d watched her life in the form of a fast forward movie. She hadn’t done anything much, only sat by the front pew alone, staring blankly at the coffin, inside the church where her mother memorial service had been held. She’d stopped crying. She’d hardly felt any emotion, just like a robot, she’d carried out everything; from meeting the people who had attended the services, then listened to the pastor’s preach, paid her last respect to her mother before her casket had been closed, until she had proceeded to the cemetery and watched how her mother coffin, slowly had been lowered into the depth of the earth.
And now, after everything had done, Lara still didn’t move a step from the burial ground, she let her feet sunk in the soft grass and felt a cold breeze hovered, swirled around her face.
From the corner of her eyes, she saw a woman came to her, before lowering herself to her level.
“Lara.” She called her name softly. “Our friends want to see you now.” She said softly.
Slowly, Lara turned her head and found that it was Abby. At first she was perplexed as she was still disoriented with this state of affairs. Slowly, her senses started to return and her brain slowly digested the surrounding, including to look at her best friend. Abby she was just like usual very beautiful and kind. Her exquisite black dress was a bit dirty with the mud as she helped Lara to stand with her heavy heart.
It was then Lara realized that she wasn’t alone with Abby only. In front of her already stood Liam Hannaford, Abby’s fiancé for the past six months. His six-foot height, well-built frame clad in the dark suit. His strikingly handsome feature which most of the time showed the air of autocracy, now showed sympathy.
He took another step before closing the gap between them by hauling her in his embrace. “I’m so sorry, Lara…” He whispered.
“Thank you for coming, Liam.” Lara replied, releasing his embrace. She forced herself to smile. “I really appreciate it.”
Liam caressed her hair as if she were a child. “You know you can ask me anything, okay?”
Lara nodded. “Thank you once again, Liam. You’re a very good friend.”
Liam shrugged. “Everything will be alright, Lara. Maybe not too soon, but I promise you everything will be fine.” He stated one more time before he slid away from her, giving another person behind him a chance to talk to her.
Lara saw Liam’s sister Rosalie Hannaford with her boyfriend, Phoenix Souveraine. Both of them were the picture perfect of ideal couple. They’re also wearing simple black outfit though the color didn’t lesser the sophistication of their looks.
Rosalie was simply a stunning creature, almost ethereal. As one of the wealthiest heiress in the country, her personality was as beautiful as her face. Couple of times she’d showed her kindness in the past and today was no exception.
“Hi there…”Rosalie said, forming a sad smile on her face. “Are you okay, Lara?”
Lara nodded, her veil fell from her head to her shoulder. “Thank you so much Rosalie.”
“If you need me, you know, I’ll be there.” Rosalie caressed Lara’s pale face gently. Then gently she closed the distance between them by hugging Lara so tightly.
The sweet expensive fragrance came from Rosalie, tingled in her nose and Lara also felt a fresh of tears dampened her clothes, she knew Rosalie was crying but Lara couldn’t cry anymore. “Thanks.” That was all she could say after she drew herself from Rosalie’s hug.
“That’s all right.” Rosalie said and gave her turn to her tall and muscular handsome boyfriend who was standing mutely next to her.
“Hi.” Phoenix greeted in a deep soft voice.
“Hi, P.” Lara replied forcing herself to smile.
His usually jovial dark and sharp eyes now were brimming with deep empathy. “I’m so sorry for your lost, Lara.”
“Thank you.” Lara said. It was the same word she had to say over and over again when people and her friends showed their condolence to her. She couldn’t find another word besides ‘thank you’ or ‘I’m fine’.
“Hey, you know where to find us when you need friends.” One of his broad shoulders inclined lazily but there was seriousness on his face.
“Of course, P.” Lara nodded then saw the next person approached her. He was the most reserved, remote human she’d ever encountered. Blake Wyndham.
His boyish handsome face was unreadable when he only stood mutely behind Phoenix. He had almost the same height like his friends but not his character. Lara always thought that Blake didn’t really care about other people’s business. He had his own mindset and didn’t bother about others. Yet, today it showed differently.
Blake cared for her.
Shoveling both of his hands inside his dark blue pants pockets, he came towards her. His shirt that matched the color of his pants, looked slightly wrinkle though still looked elegant on his body. As a matter of fact it didn’t make his beauty lesser, only enhanced his boyish good-look but detached appearance. With his silence own way, he showed his condolence. Awkwardly Blake only kissed her cold and pale cheeks.
Lara closed her eyes when she received kiss still managed to give him a weak smile. But when she opened her eyes, she found another person.
Blake’s body was no more blocking her view to see the striking figure behind.
He appeared in front of her. His feature was arresting. Everything about him was a flawless. His usually dark thick dark springy hair now was a neck-length short cropped against a well-shaped head. He had a cleanly chiseled face with an austerity, along, high straight nose. His jaw was long and he had firm finely molded sensuous lips. His power had hit her just like a rush of electricity as she felt his impact surged over her.
Oh, he had his power over her for almost two years of her life.
He was a wall of power and wall of authority every time she saw him. Whatever he wore, he never failed to look immaculate, and of course today was no exception. With a black roll-neck sweater, well-cut wool pants and black shiny pantaloons plus his long cashmere jacket only boosted his tall, leaned, well-built figure.
However, it was his eyes that had captured her two years and eleven months ago, although that time, it’d been framed with clear spectacles.
His eyes were so dark and fathomless with a glint that came and went like a shooting star in the sky. Their midnight quality still reeled her in until now as he moved towards her without taking his eyes off of her pale face.
Lara was motionless as he was approaching, she really didn’t know what she expect herself to do with this sad confusing situation. One thing she realized that she’d been holding her breath the moment she saw him until now finally they stood face to face.
“I’m so sorry.” He said, his voice as she knew very well was rich and unfathomable containing so many influences.
“Thank you.” Lara said barely audible.
“Lara.” Abby tapped her shoulder. “We’re waiting for you at the parking lot, okay.”
Lara broke their eyes contacts to face Abby. “Yes, thank you. I won’t be long.”
“Take your time.” Encouraging her softly, Abby squeezed her hands. Then she averted her gaze to the striking handsome man next to her. “I’ll catch up with you also, okay.”
Lara returned her attention to him again. She saw him nodded, still without leaving his gaze on her face.
One by one her friends left, giving them some privacy, that Lara wasn’t sure why both of them needed a privacy right this time and at this place since this was absolutely an awkward situation when both of them were left alone.
Nevertheless, Lara had been in various awkward situations when he was a concern, therefore she should be the one who started the small talk.
Her lips curved into a slight smile. “Thank you for coming and paying the respect.”
“I only found out this morning.” He informed as if he regretted to be the last person to know and continued as he moved a step closer. “I just arrived from business trip and I immediately came here.”
Now, he was standing too close.
The feeling of being near him, Lara felt the tremor inside her. But finally she managed to reply steadily. “That’s okay, I understand.”
“Are you alright?” He asked. Still his gazed didn’t leave her face.
She blinked slowly as something lurched inside her. His resonant had threatened her eyes to cry for the first time since this morning. How could just one that question from him affect her so deeply? But she knew because it was of his presence.
The heat came off him in waves despite of a cold breeze. Her mouth was desert dried. Finally she nodded in answer to his question, incapable of forming the words.
There was a long pause between them. He didn’t say anything, yet his eyes continued to scrutinize her face, drinking in every detail to confirm her silence answer. She entwined her fingers together clasped it tight as it was the core of her energy, Still trying to focus on her threaten tears, yet now her focus was divided. How could she manage not to cry and steady the rhythm of her thumping heart at the same time?
“Here’s for my deepest condolence.” He said, extending a bouquet of white roses he had been carrying all this time, as she realized belatedly.
Reluctance, she received the flowers. “Thank you. You’re so kind.” She said and then carefully she avoided having any physical contact with him as she took the flowers before she bend down to place the bouquet on the burial ground.
“Lara.” It was soft when he called her name but the low murmur was enough to bring her up from the ground and face him.
“Is there anything I can do for you?” He asked softly but then a slant of mockery smile formed on his beautiful lips. “I know all of them already offered you but still…” He shrugged didn’t proceed what he’d wanted to say though she understood the message in between the line.
She understood completely. But what she didn’t know was, if he meant it.
Yet she’d rather not even consider his implicit offer. Instead she only smiled. “Thank you. But don’t worry, I’ll be fine.”
“Alright, then.” He said with straight face. “But, just in case you need anything, the offer is valid anytime. No expired-date.”
Her smile slightly was getting wider hearing of his cynical choice of words. It was so typical of him. “I’ll remember that.”
He nodded, not even an inch of expression formed on his remarkably handsome face. And she felt jittery. God knew, this man always made her feel that way every time he was near.
The air of silence ascended them. Few of sparrows on the trees twittered a sweet, beautiful song yet immensely sad. It was so sad that even the heaven would weep filling this awkward silence.
“I’d better go soon, they’re waiting for us.” She eventually told him at the same time looking at her friends over her shoulder. Her black, see-through veil fell on her shoulders revealing her long dark brown hair, enticingly.
“Alright.” He said, following her gaze before returning to meet her eyes again. “Let’s go.”
She shook her head slowly. “That’s okay, you go first. I…” She paused momentarily, catching up her breath. “I want to pray first.”
“Then I’ll accompany you.” He said though it was softly but there was an edge of firmness.
Lara wanted to reject but she had no energy to argue, besides she was always at the defeat side when she was against him.
All she did only bowing her head down and gave her pray to her mother for a moment. And once she settled she looked up and saw him still was still standing behind her mutely. “I think now we can go.”
“After you.” He extended his hand, gesturing her to pass him first in a very gentleman style before he let walked behind her as they retreated back in silence to where all of their friends were waiting patiently.