Chapter Thirty-eight

Putting my pencil down, I stepped back to take a look at the work I got done. Overjoyed was finished, and three new songs had begun. Glancing at the time, I got dressed for the funeral, putting on my nicest clothes. I combed my hair and put gel in it, looking at myself in the mirror.

“What do you think, Haylee?” I mumbled, half-hoping for a response. She would critique my outfit until it was perfect. Listening hard for even the slightest murmur, I stood there for a while. The silence was killing me from the inside out. Trying to distract myself, I got in the car and drove to the funeral. It was half an hour away, so I was about five minutes late. The service was outside in nature, just as Haylee would want. I was getting good at stopping memories before they engulf me, but it was tiring trying to do that the whole time. I made until the end of the funeral, where we all shared memories of Haylee. That’s where I lost it. As nonchalantly as possible, I got up from my chair and walked until I couldn’t hear the service anymore. I leaned on a tree, overlooking the rolling hills and valleys. After a moment I heard a pair of footsteps behind me.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” I turned around and saw that it was Haylee’s mom, Jen. She was with Dalton, her husband.

“It’s tough for us, too, with her being our only child.” Dalton said, his forest-green gaze sympathetic.

I just shook my head. “I’m sorry for your loss.” Was that the right thing to say?

“She was your loss, too. Tell me, what was she like in your eyes?” Jen seemed to be taking this all very well.

“She was…” How could I put this into words? “...The most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. We met at a party, and just went from there. I got to know her better than I think I know myself. We took a whole bunch of trips together, with me, her, Chris, Kyle, and Jackie. We grew as a family, and did everything together. It was wonderful.” I shook my head, tears filling my eyes. “But then everything changed. She… She was too young.” Jen and Dalton wrapped their arms around me. They smelled a bit like Haylee, but more nature-scented. I didn't tell them how I was about to propose to her that day. We all shed a few tears before composing ourselves.

“Okay, let’s go back.” Dalton said, walking away with Jen by his side. "Coming?"

"Yeah, I'll be right there." I replied. With that, they went back to the service, while I just stood there, needing some alone time. I felt tears welling up, memories too. I wished Haylee could be by my side again; I wish she could comfort me and tell me that everything was alright. Just then, I felt someone brush against my arm, but when I turned to see who it was, no one was there. A scent hit my nose, a scent that was achingly familiar.

"Life is too short to be as unhappy as you are." I heard a whisper over the breeze, a whisper that was barely audible.

"Haylee!" I looked frantically around. "Please, don't leave me." I begged, tears streaming down my face.

"I never did." Her whisper came again, and I felt her warm touch on my face. And then nothing.

She was gone again.

The End

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