Trying to come to terms with her mother's suicide, Victoria must now face another betrayal - that her father, the one person she had left, may not be who she thought he was. Finding solace only with her mother's grave, Victoria must find a way to save herself before she lands in the same fate.
The only thing that can save her now, is an angel.
There was nothing that Victoria could do and she knew it. She was really alone now. She had felt it for years, but had never been more alone than she was now, standing in front of her mother’s grave. Soon, she would have to return to her house, return to her father. But not yet. Not just yet. She would stay a little while longer, until it really sank in that her mother was gone. The worst pain was in, just for a moment, forgetting the tragedy only to remember and feel the pain fresh and new. She remembered the pain when it was fresh and new, when she had found her mother’s body on the bathroom floor. The crippling pain. The pain of being slowly torn in two. She couldn’t endure that intensity a second time around. She wasn’t strong enough. Just like she wasn’t strong enough to return home yet.
Victoria’s mother had her funeral all planned out years before her actual death. This information had disturbed Victoria when she had heard it from the solicitor that had shown up at the hospital. She had sat, silent and motionless, as all the details were laid out for her and her father. Her mother had planned every detail, right down to what versions of her favourite hymns she wanted to be played. She had even been setting aside money to pay for everything. That was another thing that disturbed Victoria. The price of death. Her mother had made it so that Victoria and her father had nothing to worry about. Nothing to worry about except living without her.
All she had left of her now was this angel. Her mother had bought a large stone angel to replace the usual marble headstone. Looking around the graveyard Victoria could see that they weren’t very common these days, but Victoria thought she was beautiful. Her head was lowered and her hands pressed together in silent prayer. Her robe fell in folds to her feet, just revealing the toes that stood atop the large black marble base where the name and epitaph were engraved. Her wings were half open and reached down to the back of her knees. Looking up at her face Victoria was sure that if statues could shed a tear, she would be weeping.
“I know how you feel.” Victoria said aloud to the angel, feeling the lump rise in her throat again. She glanced around the empty graveyard. The light was fading fast, the headstones casting long shadow on the grass and the gravel paths. She didn’t entirely want to be caught out in a graveyard in the dark of night, but she sat down on the lip of the curb opposite the angel anyway, leaning her back against an ancient looking headstone behind her and hoping that its owner wouldn’t mine. She picked a dandelion from beside her foot and began picking the petals off one by one. It was like a morbid version of the game ‘He loves me, he loves me not.’ She had never played it with the love of her mother before.
The graveyard was surrounded on three sides by tall trees, some of them coniferous, and the fourth side where the gate was led back to the chapel. On the opposite side to the chapel was a large expanse of wood, and this was where she heard the noise. The dry crunch of dead leaves underfoot. She sat straight up and froze, staring into the darkening wood, straining her eyes to see who was coming her way.
She imagined some ill-tempered grounds keeper, probably with one blind eye and a club foot who would shoo her out the gate. She felt scared and instantly ashamed of the fear. What had she to fear? She was visiting her mother’s grave; what was the worst they could do?
A twig snapped and she stood up involuntarily, dropping the dandelion just as the source of the footsteps stepped out from the line of trees. Victoria let out the breath she wasn’t aware that she was holding.
It was just a boy.
He looked roughly the same height and age as her, maybe sixteen or seventeen and was brushing twigs and bits of leaves off his jacket when his eyes met hers. His hood was up, casting a shadow over most of his face, so that all Victoria could see were two silver eyes staring at her. She felt a chill run down her back although there was no chill wind. The street lamp attached to the wall of the chapel flicked on making her jump and illuminating the graveyard in a sickly orange glow.
“Hi.” He said after a long pause, his voice low and wary.
“Hi.” Victoria replied. Then the silence continued. She wasn’t exactly used to meeting people in graveyards and was unsure of the etiquette. He seemed just as unsure.
He started to walk slowly towards her, as though she were a small animal that he didn’t want to scare off. But she took an involuntary step backwards anyway, almost tripping on the curb. Her heart was in her throat. Why am I so scared? He stopped a few feet from her trading glances between the statue and her.
Victoria wondered what she must look like. She hadn’t given much thought to this lately. This was the longest she had gone in the past few days without crying, and it was still no more than an hour or so. She must look a disgrace. It was still nothing compared to how she felt though. She felt compelled to leave now, given the fact that she couldn’t be alone anymore, but she still wasn’t ready. She cursed the strange boy in her head, wishing he hadn’t chosen this moment to stumble into her private reverie.
“Do not stand at my grave and cry, I am not there, I did not die.” The boy quoted from the epitaph beneath the angel’s feet. “Was she your mother?” As he asked this he turned to her and pulled back his hood. He had long unkempt hair that almost covered his eyes and fell to just above his shoulders. She could see now that his eyes weren’t silver but grey. He had a ring pierced through the middle of his lip and a diamond stud in his left nostril that caught glittered faintly in the light of the street lamp.
Victoria decided not to answer him. She is my mother,she thought angrily, but said nothing out loud. She promptly sat down on the curb again and restarted her dandelion dismembering with more fervour. She hoped this was signal enough that she wanted him to leave her alone. But the boy stood and watched, his hands in the pockets of his jeans.
“I come here to visit my brother.” The boy went on. Victoria pulled her eyebrows together in frustration. She had the dandelion down to the stem so she grabbed a handful of grass from behind her and started shredding it. “He’s over there.” He waved a hand over in a general direction behind her and to Victoria’s outrage; he sat down beside her, stretching out his legs in front of him. His jeans were torn on both knees and covered in dust and dirt. He folded his arms.
“Can I ask what your name is?” He asked slowly, almost implying that she was slow herself. She sighed.
“Victoria.” She answered, just as slowly. She was going to have to leave soon. She didn’t want to sit here and talk to this boy. She didn’t want to go home either, but at least there she could shut herself up in her room and wallow in solitude.
“I’m Chris.” Chris held out his hand to her. There was a plain silver band around his right thumb. Victoria hesitated for a second before taking it, it seemed like a very formal way to introduce yourself. His hand was callused but very warm. She got the impression that he was a guitar player. They sat in silence for a minute, Victoria less vigorous with her shredding.
Her hair fell forward over her face and she used this to sneak a peak at her companion. He was idly playing with the ring in his lip and staring up at the sky with his brow furrowed in thought. She glanced up herself and saw the first star had appeared. A lump rose to her throat again. She heard her mother’s voice whispering the old nursery rhyme in her ear. “Star light, star bright, the first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.” She didn’t make a wish this this time. She was about to get up and leave when he spoke again.
“I’m sorry. I should’ve left you alone, shouldn’t I?” He stood up without waiting for an answer. Victoria pulled her back behind her ear to look up at him. His hands were back in his pockets. “I thought you might want to talk about it.” He shrugged his shoulders and pulled his hood back up.
Victoria absently rubbed a spot of dirt off her shoe. “It’s alright.” She said. She felt guilty now for thinking so badly of him. She had to clear throat before she spoke again. She hadn’t spoken much in the last while, even before her mother died; her voice was a little hoarse from disuse. “I’m not much of a talker.” She stood up herself, finally making her decision, and brushed the dirt off the back of her black trousers. “I have to go anyway, it’s getting kinda late.”
“Well I might see you here again sometime.” Chris said with a shrug. Victoria gave a little nod. She doubted that very much but didn’t like to say it.
She turned away, giving the angel one last look of longing before heading for the gate. She felt only numbness as she pulled it to behind her. Outside that rusty creaky gate she was unfeeling and it was only inside it that she allowed her emotions to get the better of her. It was just her and her father now. She had to keep it together.
As she was just about to step out of eye-line, she glanced over her shoulder and saw Chris weaving his way through down the paths to his brother’s grave.
The walk home was far shorter than she liked. There were no lights on in the house. Her father must have stayed away after the funeral. They were more alike than she thought.
She headed straight up to her room. She felt exhausted. Grief was exhausting. Pain even more so. She sat down on her bed, directly across from the mirror between the two doors of her wardrobe and pulled off her shoes. She raised her eyes slowly to the mirror and all she could think was –I look nothing like her.
Victoria had dull brown eyes compared to her mother’s bright blue. Her hair was also a dull brown to her mother’s sandy hair that streaked in the sun. Her skin was pale enough to make her look constantly sick and her nose pointy. Her mother always had a healthy glow to her face and a dusting of freckles covered her tiny nose. And her smile; it was something else. Victoria hated her crooked teeth and had always been careful to cover her mouth if she did happen to smile. But her mother’s was so care free. It didn’t bother her who saw her smile. It was infectious.
I look nothing like her- That was what she would think from now on, every time she looked in the mirror.
She turned away from the mirror then, afraid the numbness would fade, turned off the bedside lamp and crawled under the covers, still fully clothed. At the angle she looked out the window, she could just see the moon, three quarters full, dipping in and out if the clouds. She stared at it until she slipped into oblivion.
At around four in the morning she awoke to the sounds of her father stumbling up the stairs, blind drunk and sobbing. She tried to cover her ears with her pillow but it didn’t work. She pressed her hand to the cold wall and whispered, “And then there were three.”