Thirteen: The Funeral

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Gentle rays of morning light shot through the tree tops in streaks of orange and yellow. The leaves were rough under my bare feet, constantly crunching with each step I took. I wasn't certain as to why I was walking around without shoes on.

Then I saw him.

The house was far behind me, so far that I couldn't see it if I turned around. The prevalent trees consumed me as its victim. My eyes settled on my beast who was waiting patiently amongst the trees.

I began walking closer to him, yet no matter how fast I went, I didn't get any closer. I began running in sheer desperation. Still, no distance was shortened between us.

He began whimpering, probably thinking I didn't want to see him.

I opened my mouth to speak and nothing came out. I willed my arms to raise and reach towards him, but it felt as though a million tons were weighing them down.

Something sprung through the air in my peripheral vision, making its way at an alarming rate towards my beast. One moment, he was standing. The next, his large body crashed onto the cold ground with a newfound gun wound near his heart.

I was able to let out a scream with my body frozen to the ground. I watched as a pool of blood coated his fur. Crimson stained the earth, it stained his fur, it stained my mind. 

"I thought I told you to stay out of the forest," a voice to my right said gruffly. I looked that way to see a cloaked person standing several feet away from me. They turned it in my direction. Before I could react, I heard another gunshot.

Then, darkness.

My body sprung forward, almost fast enough to give me whiplash. I rubbed numbly at the back of my neck. There was a pounding in my head and, without needing to look in the mirror, I knew the colour to my cheeks had vanished. 

Just a dream.

The shower I took that morning was longer than usual. With my forehead pressed up against the shower walls, I focused on my breathing. Out of all days, that could not be one that I got sick. Honestly, I would have preferred to stay in the comfort of my bed for the entire day, maybe even the rest of the week. I slipped on a simple black dress with lace sleeves and matching flats. I curled my hair and twisted it in an updo.

"Ella! Hurry up!"

I rolled my eyes at her impatience. "Coming!" I called back as I snatched the purse and dashed out of my room.

My mother was standing beside the door with a stern look on her face and arms folded firmly across her chest. She seemed a bit more... bilious than usual. Perhaps she was taking the news about Ashley harder than I thought she would.

Even the drive was silent. Throughout the ride, I glanced over at her and she would immediately tense under my gaze. I ended up pressing my head against the cool surface of the window and prayed that the day would pass by quickly.

We pulled into the city's church. The parking lot was full; many people had to park their cars on the side of the street.

There was always something that creeped me out about that church. Maybe because it was far away from any other building or house. It was an old, white building with a bell tower. Behind it was an opened field full of many graves.

We both pulled ourselves out of the car and she hesitated before proceeding towards the crowd. "I'm going to talk with some people," my mother said in a sharp voice, not even meeting my eye. "You will meet me back here after the service."

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