3: The Funeral

           I ran a shaky hand through my dark hair, a knot forming in the pit of my stomach. I already wished the day was over when it’d just barely began.

          After that talk with my father and his wife, he reluctantly dropped me home where I’d stayed the past three days. Tomorrow, I would pack my things and move in with him and his family.

          I spent my last days at home in my mother’s room where her perfume still lingered. I often read the note she left, running my fingertips along the words knowing this was the closest I could ever feel to her.

          Don’t ever let sorrow touch those bright eyes, my mother had written. I stared at my reflection in the mirror now, but didn’t recognize the pair of blue-green eyes watching me. I didn’t see sorrow or grief or pain or loss in them. I saw nothing.

          My phone buzzed twice on the bathroom counter before falling silent. I averted my gaze from the mirror, reaching over to read the text.

           Be there in 30. Hope you’re okay. Love you –Dad

          My hands remained unstable, trembling, as I ran them along the soft material of my black dress, smoothing it out. A thin, silver band hugged the third finger of my right hand. I remember seeing the flash of silver on my mother’s finger when she’d take my hand as we crossed the street, or pulled a fresh tray of muffins out of the oven, or typed away at the keys on her laptop, writing love stories.

          I ran my thumb along the smooth metal, willing the thoughts away. My father would be here in thirty minutes, and I couldn’t be late today. Not the day of my mother’s funeral.

          I was sitting at the bottom of the stairs, cupping my elbows in my palms when I heard the car pull up outside and honk. I took a deep breath, trying to slow down my heart's rapid beating, before heading out to the car.

          "Hey, how are you feeling?" my father asked, as I slid into the backseat. I shrugged, watching the heavy rainclouds floating across the sky.

          "I'm sorry about your mommy," a little voice said from next to me.

          Six years ago, my father and his wife had a son. I’d never forget the look on my mother’s face when she opened the email with pictures of baby Gabriel. The faint trace of hope that once lived in her eyes was gone. It was after that night I swore I’d never forgive my father.

          This was one of the few times I'd ever seen Gabe. His eyes were a swirl of blue and green like mine, but his hair was blonde like his mothers. I reached over, gave his hand a squeeze, before turning back towards the clouds again.

          I didn't expect many people to show up to my mother's funeral. She didn't keep any close friends. And my father was the closest thing to family we had. But when we arrived and went to find parking, almost every spot was filled. A white van sat near the entrance, the words Channel 4 News written along the side. A reporter in a black suit and tie stood with a microphone in hand, a serious look on his face.

          "...here at the funeral of the best-selling author, Jayne Hart. It is said that her body was found late Monday afternoon by her seventeen year old daughter," he reported, concern coloring his tone.

          We entered through the back door, avoiding the crowd.