Friday, March 30, 2012

KEEP HER CLOSER

Roses were Ally’s favorite.

It didn’t matter what color, she loved them all. But I always gave her red.

Today was no different. I cradled a bouquet of one dozen long-stemmed red roses as I walked with my mother toward the chapel.

“Are you ready for this, Sara,” she asked. I nodded my head and she took my hand and led me through tall wooden doors. The pews near the front were filled with other mourners so we took our places near the back row. My eyes wandered and fell upon familiar faces -- Ally’s grandparents, cousins, some classmates and teachers from our high school. Even though their backs were to me, I knew the three figures in the front row were Ally’s parents and younger sister. Jessica Kramer’s body quaked with sobs, her anguish muffled against her father’s chest. Mrs. Kramer sat still and silent.

Slow, serene organ music began to echo throughout the chapel. A minister walked up to the lectern and opened the memorial service with a prayer.  My mind wandered as different people stood up to share stories of Ally. I didn’t want to listen to them. After all, they didn’t know her like I knew her.

The moment she walked into Sister Irene’s second grade class at St. Francis Catholic Elementary, I knew Allison Kramer was different from all of the other little girls. She had light blue eyes and golden blond hair that cascaded just past her shoulders. She was beautiful and perfect and I wanted her to be my best friend forever.

I could feel my irritation building as others talked about their favorite memories of her. So when that stupid Jackie Lindstrom started blubbering about how much she was going to miss my best friend, I decided I had had enough. I stood up and walked out.

In the emptiness of the foyer, I took a deep breath and tried to steady my shaking hands. It was then that I saw the photos set up on easels by the entrance. My stomach lurched when I saw the one of us with our arms around each other standing on a cliff at the beach. That one was taken last summer. It was the same cliff where Ally had died just one week ago.

From behind the wooden doors, I heard the organ music begin again. The doors opened and the Kramers walked out with their heads lowered. They took their position off to the side of the foyer as mourners, one by one, offered their condolences.

“Oh, Sara,” Mrs. Kramer cried out when she saw me. She pulled me toward her in a tight embrace. “What are we going to do without her?”

My throat tightened and my heart started pounding, “I’m so sorry, Mrs. Kramer,” was all I could squeak out. She pulled away from me and grabbed both of my hands. “She really loved you.”

“I know. And I loved her,” I said truthfully. The setting sun broke through the chapel’s stained glass windows for a few seconds and a shimmer of light reflecting off my wrist caught Mrs. Kramer’s attention. She lifted my hands up. She flinched a little and I knew it was because of the bruises that ran up and down my arms. They were turning an ugly yellow now and the handprint was starting to fade. Mrs. Kramer looked at me and shook her head as one tear slid down her cheek. She touched the silver bracelet that encircled my wrist.

“Isn’t that Ally’s bracelet?” she questioned as her fingers examined the different colored charms. “It wasn’t on her when they found her. We thought she lost it in the fall.”

I pulled my arm back. “It is Ally’s. She gave it to me just before…just before it happened. She told me about her decision to go to Boston instead of State. I was upset, so she gave me the bracelet. She told me this way that whenever I missed her, I’d have something of hers to hold on to,” my voice broke.

Mrs. Kramer still stared at bracelet. Her chin began to quiver.

“Of course, you can have it back.” I went to unclasp the bracelet, but she stopped me.

“No, Sara,” her eyes went back to the bruises. “You tried to save her... Ally loved that bracelet and she loved you. Keep it so you can remember that always.”

She started crying so I did the only thing I could do – I hugged her tight. As Mrs. Kramer sobbed into my shoulder I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. She was suffering only because her daughter had turned out to be a liar.

Ever since we were kids, Ally and I had planned to go to college together. Then that day on the cliff she told me she had applied to Boston behind my back, was accepted and was going without me. I was shocked and angry. Without thinking, I slapped her across the face. Stunned, she backed away from me and lost her balance. She started to slide feet first down the side of the cliff. My first instinct was to reach out and grab her arm. We were both crying and screaming for help. I kept telling her that I was sorry. I held on tight and I could feel my nails digging into her skin. She clung to me with one hand just as hard.

As I started to pull her up, I saw the bracelet. The bracelet I always wanted, but she would never give to me now because I’d slapped her. And then she'd leave for Boston to start a new life. Maybe even find a new best friend.

I realized at that moment there was only one way I could keep Ally close to me forever.

My grip loosened as I slid the bracelet off her arm with my free hand.

I clutched her wrist. I told her I was sorry.

And then I let go.

-- THE END --

1,000 words

**This work of original ficition is owned and copyrighted by the author **

No comments:

Post a Comment