~~Chapter One: The Valley of the Shadow
They were too young. All of them. Too young to understand, too young to know the truth. It was the saddest thing, Jared thought: the three young children, cloaked in black.
James was the oldest, yet still only seven himself. He clutched his sister's hands, one on each side. James had tried to put on a brave face for his sister's sake, yet he failed miserably. His lips pressed together to keep himself from crying out in the seemingly unbearable pain. His hands were not free , so the tears he'd felt compelled not to cry flowed freely from his bloodshot eyes down his agaonized face. It made Jared's stomach churn; James should not have to bottle his emotions, he should be free to mourn.
Henri and Austin clutched James's hands as though they were the only life lines in this world. Who knows? To five year old twins, they probably were. Henri and Austin were so lost, so confused. They did not understand that their mother; who lay in the casket, would not wake up, was not coming back. Their tortured cries were carried over to Jared who was trying his hardest to block out the sound. He'd heard enough children's cries to last multiple forevers.
The preacher had said his closing prayers. James stood up and walked towards the devastatingly beautiful casket. Henri and Austin still clutched his hands, trailing tearfully behind. James reluctantly relased his sister's hands. From inside his small mourning jacket, he pulled small red tulips; three of them. With the gentleness only a big brother could achieve, he handed a tulip to Henri and another to Austin. Together, they placed the flowers on the elegant death bed. Henri and Austin each pulled out small bouquets of the daisy's that grew behind the house. No doubt the flowers had been picked last minute, as an unknown tribute in loving memory of Miranda Daisy Hyde.