Sunken Dreams

*A small excerpt from a story I’ve been working on

This shouldn’t be happening to me. I shouldn’t be here, huddled in the wet dirt over my sister’s grave. We were supposed to grow old together. I was going to babysit her kids and she’d look after my ten cats. She wasn’t supposed to be stuffed in a cramped box and dropped six feet into the dirt.

“Brooklyn Asha Harper,” the new stone read, “Beloved Daughter and Sister.” What did it know? What could that cold and lifeless piece of slab know about the girl that lies beneath it? It was just a rock with two seemingly insignificant dates “January 3, 1995- October 29, 2015.” They seem so small a thing, those numbers, but they meant I would never hear Brooke stomp into my room half crazed again. She’ll never flop onto my bed and wake me from my blissful sleep just to tell me how rude mom was being again. I just got her back, and now she’s gone for good.

The rain pelted down on me and I could feel the dirt forming rivets below me. My eyes felt like sand paper from all of the mud I used to wipe away my tears. My white top looked how I felt, smeared and in ruin. My knees shook underneath me from the effort to stay upright. All I wanted to do was curl into a ball on top of my sister. I wish the world had a rewind button so I could go back to that last moment I saw Brooke alive and beg her to stay. I just want my sister back. I’m not asking to end all wars, just one girl. How much harm could that do? I still need her here. Brooke would know exactly what to say to make everything all right, but she was the one person who couldn’t pull me into her arms. The sobs broke again, and I felt the river of mud moving down my cheeks to my neck.

“Jackie, baby, we need to go now.” My mom placed her hand on my shoulder but I shrugged it off. She knelt next to me and pulled me into a hug anyway. I wasn’t sure how to react to this closeness. It was so unlike mom to even touch me. I love you’s were practically nonexistent at our house. She acted more like an older sister than my mother most of the time, but it felt good to feel surrounded. It was the first time she’d spoken to me since Brooke’s accident.

“I can’t leave her,” I whispered into her side. The embrace was drawing out too long, and I tried to free myself from her again but she pulled me closer. She held me as if the ground was crumbling beneath me and I’d be swallowed up forever if she let go. Maybe she could sense how much I wished I was in that hole with Brooke right now.

“I promise, we’ll come back.” She ran her fingers through my knotted auburn hair as she pulled me to my feet. She tugged a rag -why she carries around dirty rags is beyond me- from her pocket and scrubbed some of the mud away. “We’ll come visit her tomorrow.”

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