February 25, 2016.
I shivered. The rain had thoroughly soaked through my dress, and some ambitious drops had crawled down the bare skin of my back, chilling me to the bone. Numbness crept up my veins as the last drops of my tears slowly stopped flowing. I knelt there, not caring about the dirt prints that were bound to make a mess on my knees, just staring at the newly erected white slab of stone in the grass and the hideous withered flowers someone had carelessly tossed there. I knelt there and tried to let the facts all sink in.
But it was to no avail. It all felt too unreal. There was no way Lucy could be dead. Practical, ambitious Lucy? My headstrong older sister would never let death interrupt her plans for graduating college and getting into med school. If anyone, it should have been me. I was a junior in high school, and death could not interrupt my plans since I didn’t have any. If I died on that day instead of Lucy, the world would not suffer much. But Lucy? She was the radiant, bubbly, talkative sun that everyone revolved around, including me. I had always stood in her shadow as the poor lonely mute girl. She supposed to graduate college this summer a year early. She was supposed to easily get into med school and become a cardiologist and make a million bucks. Of course the car that crashed into hers and stole her life on that night happened to be driven by a man who thought he was so good at multitasking that he could be on his phone and drive at the same time. Of course he wasn’t watching the road as well as he should have been. Of course he rammed the front of his silver Mercedes into the driver’s side of her blue Audi. In the end, she had lost everything, her life, her ambitions, her dreams. While he had lost nothing but a ticket and a slap on the wrist.
I remember him apologizing profusely in a ridiculous Italian accent the last time our family had visited the hospital. He was up and walking and had come to visit my sister, no doubt to gaze upon the victim of his idiocy. I hoped the guilt had bitten his heart out when he saw Lucy’s mangled corpse, but I doubt it. At most, the crash had probably only given him a couple bad credit and a couple grand (he must have spent some money in order to bail his way out of prison). To give him credit, he did attend the funeral (while glancing down at his Rolex every five seconds). I remember him holding an ugly bouquet of flowers. I assume it was him who so carelessly threw the hideous flowers down at my sister’s tombstone.
A car honk from the curb brought me back to the present. I glanced over to glare at the intruder who interrupted my thoughts. “Babe, how long have you been outside? You’re gonna get hypothermia if you don’t get inside here!” Dexter yelled, eyes anxious, hands waving me over. Obviously, he wanted me to get inside his car. It looked like he had just gotten out of his weekend job. He was probably on his way home when he happened to see me. Oh, Dex.
Fine. I stood up, feeling tiny pinpricks running up my legs from being in the same position for so long. I unsteadily lumbered over to Dex’s car, and plopped into the passenger side, fully aware of the rain and dirt getting everywhere on the seat. Usually, as a caring girlfriend, I wouldn’t allow that to happen, but today was an exception. I didn’t care about anything at the moment. Except for Lucy. I glanced up at Dex, to see if he would react. But I read only concern and no trace of annoyance in his eyes. He grabbed a blanket from the back, draped it over my shoulders, then reached over and clasped my hands with fervor. His hands’ warmth was a sharp contrast to my own icy ones. “Rachel, are you okay?” he questioned. I shook my head. “Rachel, how did you get here?” he continued. I reached for my notepad from my pocket to communicate with him, but it was uselessly wet. I resorted to motioning to him with my hands. Taxi. “Rachel, haven’t you changed yet?” he continued. I shook my head. Not since the day of the funeral.
Pity flickered in his expression. I hated it. I covered my ears with my hands, signifying that the conversation was over. Repentance softened his features and he lightly squeezed my hand twice. “Princess, everything is going to be fine, okay? I know you miss Lucy,” he said, “but if she was looking down from heaven right now, and I know she is, she would be disappointed that you’re not getting on with your life like everyone else is.” I could feel the tears rising up again, threatening to spill over. “Oh, Princess,” Dex exhaled as he pulled me into his arms, not caring about how the rain from my clothes was soaking into his. I sighed as his body warmth washed over me. I don’t know how he could still love me when I was an utter mess. “Let’s get you home and changed, okay?” he said resolutely. I slowly nodded and was rewarded with a soft kiss onto my forehead.
June 17, 2016.
It’s been exactly four months. Four months from the day of Lucy’s death. Four months in which the pain should have hurt less. Four months in which my grief should have been melted away. But I still ached at the memory of Lucy. Though I didn’t cry at the mention of her name anymore, every thought about Lucy resonated through me with a dull ache. It was summer now and school was over. If I was a normal teenager I would be at the pool right now, splashing off. But today was four months from Lucy’s death. And I was cold. Every thought of Lucy made me feel colder. So I was freezing, even though it was summer.
My parents were at work, and Dexter was probably at his summer job. So I was alone at home, in the living room. I was in a chair with a blanket draped over my knees. I had moved the chair to rest directly underneath the chandelier so that I could directly stare up at its beauty and the interesting way the sunlight had caught each crystal teardrop. My dad had just installed it yesterday and it was a brand new pretty novelty. Lucy would have loved it, for she was the one who so strongly advocated for a chandelier in our house. “A house with no chandelier lacked character,” she would always say.
Thinking about her sent a fresh pang of sadness to my heart. And since no one was home, I let my tears flow freely. The chandelier seemed to take on a blue tint and its brilliant rays scattered into a million pieces as my tears blurred my vision. I closed my eyes. Lucy never got to live to see the chandelier. If she were still alive, she would be home right now. She would be baking her latest batch of cookies in the kitchen right now, or decorating a chocolate cake, or baking a blueberry pie. And then she would let me try them first, for I was her master taster. Was it my imagination, or was the aroma of newly baked blueberry pie actually wafting through the air?
The smell of Lucy’s signature blueberry pie seemed to beckon to me, Rachel, come to the kitchen, darling. I really was losing my mind, imagining smells talking to me. But then more insistently, the scent seemed to persist, Rachel, hurry! Come to the kitchen! I felt a trance-like calm sink into my body. All right, whatever. What’s the harm anyway? I stood up, letting the blanket pool at my feet and slowly drifted my way towards the kitchen.
The blueberry pie scent grew stronger, seeming to originate from the kitchen. I peered inside the kitchen and stopped dead on my tracks. There was a girl inside the kitchen. What? I silently crept closer. Clear as day, a slim figure of a blond girl dressed in a white dress stood staring out the kitchen window. I was completely awake now, and any calm feeling was thoroughly dissolved. I felt a coldness dripping through my veins as it dawned on me that the girl was… seethrough. I could see the window frame through her. What?
I stepped into the kitchen and winced as one of the floorboards creaked. The girl gently swayed around to face me. A shock of recognition vibrated through me. The girl’s face was familiar to me as was my own. Lucy? The thought rippled through my mind with a violent shockwave. There was no way it could be Lucy, for she was dead. But at the same time, there was no other person it could be besides Lucy because no one had the same brows, same blue eyes, and same determined set of the mouth. This could not be real. As if she could sense my thoughts and hesitance, she smiled. I took an uncertain step forward, not sure if I should run to her and embrace her, or to run away and leave the house.
Suddenly, an awful heavy crashing sound reverberated through the house. The sound was comparable to that of a million wine glasses simultaneously bursting and shattering into glass dust. I turned to locate the source of the sound, then whipped my head back to stare at Lucy.
But she had vanished. And there was no sign of her anywhere.
A cold heavy intensity chilled me to the bone. I spun on my heel and ran back to my chair underneath the chandelier. I let out a gasp as I took in the scene. The chandelier was shattered, its many fragments and crystals seeming to have flown everywhere across the room. A piercing pain lanced through my foot. I looked down. A crystal shard had just attached itself on the sole of my foot.
The chandelier, or rather, what remained of it, was haughtily perched in the chair in which I was just sitting a few minutes ago. Lethal shards of crystal and glass were impaled into the chair’s plush, making the chair resemble a crystal porcupine, an ethereal beauty. Had I been sitting in the chair, I would have resembled a bloody crystal porcupine right now. The cold feeling in my bone was newly refreshed, and I shuddered. I should be dead right now. But I’m not, because… Lucy… had saved me.
With that shocking realization came a burst of warmth. For the first time in four months, I felt warm. Lucy was here. Lucy had saved me. Lucy still loves me. A fresh torrent of tears overtook me, this time out of happiness. Lucy wasn’t really gone. She was just here, and she saved me. I hadn’t smiled in so long, the smile I was wearing now hurt my cheeks.
A ring of the doorbell interrupted my silent fervor. I limped toward it and threw the door open, revealing Dexter standing on the other side, holding a bouquet of white and purple lilies, staring at his feet. “Rachel, do you want to go to Lucy’s grave? I brought flowers that we can take there, cause I know that it’s been four –” he started. Then he faltered as he took in my tears, my smile, and my bloodied foot. “Rachel? What happened?” he questioned. I threw myself into his arms and hugged him hard, wanting to share with him my newfound warmth. I let him go and peered into his eyes. Concern, as always, was there, as well as a hint of curiosity. “Princess, what’s wrong?” he said. Nothing, I wanted to say. Everything’s finally been right. I’ve finally found my peace. I wanted to say. But I couldn’t. There were a million things I wanted to say, but I didn’t know how to. “Lucy saved me,” involuntarily escaped my lips. Joy, this wonderful feeling of joy, and shock too, just resonated through me. For the first time in my life, I spoke. For the first time in my life, I used my voice to say what I was thinking. What a delight it was to have finally found my voice.
Dexter’s mouth dropped open.
“Yes,” I said, testing my voice. I giggled. “Lucy saved me,” I said again, surrendering myself completely to the feeling of miraculous joy. For the first time in four months, I felt warm again. For the first time in four months, I smiled. Because for the first time in my life, I spoke.
Dexter stepped over the threshold. He wrinkled his brow in confusion and sniffed the air, saying, “Rachel, were you just baking a blueberry pie?”