Chapter Ten

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"...And one day we will die
And our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea
But for now we are young
Let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see
Love to be
In the arms of all I'm keeping here with me...

Now how I remember you
How I would push my fingers through
Your mouth to make those muscles move
That made your voice so smooth and sweet
But now we keep where we don't know
All secrets sleep in winter clothes
With one you loved so long ago
Now we  don't even know his name...
What a beautiful face
I have found in this place
That is circling all 'round the sun
And when we meet on a cloud
I'll be laughing out loud
I'll be laughing with everyone I see
Can't believe how strange it is to be anything at all..."

Neutral Milk Hotel, "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea"

I watched my mother toe through the wreckage of what used to be our trailer—it was now a pile of ash, mangled, indeterminable objects strewn about the charred grass. The muted sunlight sailed lazily between the gray, low-hanging clouds—try as it might, it couldn't combat the odd thunderstorm that was making its swift way across the sky. I inhaled, exhaled, the smell of a fresh, rain-laden breeze mixing oddly with the sharp scent of burned memories.

        "What'll we do now, Lena... what'll we do?" my mother kept saying over and over while she walked aimlessly amongst the debris, as though her eight-year-old daughter had some magical answer beyond what she'd already done.

        "Live," I replied after the tenth time she asked me and she turned wide, blue eyes over to look at me, her eyebrows stitching together. "For the first time ever, we can actually live. Doesn't that mean anything to you?"

        "Your father is gone, Magdalena," mom answered slowly, words hushed and still slightly disbelieving—two days had passed since that fateful evening in the hospital when it had been confirmed to me just what a lowlife he really was. "Doesn't that mean anything to you?"

        I held her gaze for a silent moment, listening to the squirrels bound through the fast-falling leaves overhead, to the twitter of birdsong and cry of geese, flying south for the impending winter. Finally, my lip curled back and I spat on the ground, my eyes never breaking their hold on hers.

        "You have no idea," I sneered, turning my back and walking to the green sandbox that had survived the explosion. I couldn't handle the shock on her face right now at my latest display—wasn't in the mood to be stared at with an odd and wondering look over my supposed coldness since he'd died.

        He couldn't touch us now, couldn't bring his never-ending string of destruction into our home any longer. He'd done enough as it was. I had a mother who would never be the same—she would forever spend her days in some unknown fear, mourning the man who'd decimated her life. He'd hardened me; hardened me to the point that the world had taken on a grayish hue. Life was an ugly, horrible thing we all had to endure, stretching for years before me. He'd left behind a legacy of deceit, a broken family without a penny to their name and God-knew-what-else on the other side of his lies. My feet took me to the edge of the sandbox, my mind again wandering to Mrs. Darrow, mulling over the look of pain in her eyes when she'd mentioned her daughter, possibly my sister—a sister I would never know for myself.

        The bubbling, hot feeling of rage coursed through me once more and I angrily kicked the side of the sandbox with all the force I could. Air hissed between my gritted teeth, nails digging into my palms and I wished for nothing more than for him to come back from the dead so he could die all over again.

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