The feelings that are bottled up deep inside my soul, are . . . well . . . how do I explain this . . . I suppose, I am desensitized and numb to life being stripped away from the human body. I used to cry at the loss of a loved one or someone I knew. I used to cringe at the sight of a cold, lifeless body. But after attending more than thirty funerals within the last six months, my emotions are stale and almost nonexistent. I have no more tears left to shed. I am like a dry riverbed in the desert waiting for that miraculous day when clouds turn black as night, and release days and days and days of heavy rain.
Today, my twin sister is the one who is in the casket. I was so certain she caught the deadly virus that took everyone else. Her eyes were sunken in. Her skin was as white as a sheet of paper. She had a high fever, that wouldn’t break, even though she was chilled to the bone. She was vomiting profusely. And within a matter of a few days, her body became more and more fragile, weakening beyond being able to move the muscles underneath her flesh. She lay in bed withering away right before my very eyes. I held her hand until her life completely drifted away from her body.
Right before her graveside service began, Sheriff Campbell sought me out among the crowd to tell me my sister’s death was not an accident. I gasped, sucking in a large amount of air, to which I unknowingly held. My face expressionless, pale, and my body immobile. A minute or so later, I realized I wasn’t breathing, and forcefully pushed the confined air out of my lungs with an enormous PUFF, moving the thick strands of hair on top of the sheriff’s head.
“What? What are you saying?” A tiny drop of liquid trickled down my cheek.
“I’m saying that she was murdered, Kelly.” His eyes welled up with tears.
“H-h-how?” I managed to squeak out.
Sadly, he replied, “Poison. She was poisoned to death. Her killer made it look like she too had caught the deadly virus.”
I didn’t know what to say, or how to react. Her service was starting, and I just could not deal with this now. I quietly replied, “Thank you for notifying me, but if you’ll excuse me, I am needed elsewhere.” Promptly, I turned my back to him.
He slipped his card into the palm of my hand, and whispered, “Call me when you’re ready.”
Jane’s graveside service began just as large drops of rain fell from the dark, gloomy clouds above. The rain fell faster and faster, quickly drenching and softening the earth.
“My hair and makeup did look presentable, but now, I probably look like a clown gone wrong,” I unpleasantly mumbled.
As Jane was lowered into the puddled ground, I felt as if I was being lowered with her. I panicked. I was still alive. I didn’t want to be buried, especially not right now. I tried to regulate my breathing as I took a step backwards, but I couldn’t move. I was stuck. Stuck and confused.
The rain suddenly stopped, like the forgotten faucet was no longer forgotten.
Finally, I realized that I was not being lowered into the ground, my heels had sunk deep into the grassy soil beneath my feet. I peered down at the ground, trying to figure out how to free myself from the bondage of this loosened sod, forgetting about the end of my sister’s funeral service. I noticed the hemlines of my dress slacks were soaked and caked in the wet, muddy earth. And my shoes were saturated in water, loose grass, and muddy soil.
“Arghhhhhhhh!” I squalled.
Simultaneously, the bereaved turned their heads towards me. Their eyes fixated upon my face. My cheeks turned pink with embarrassment. Everyone watched as I struggled to pull my heels out of the unforgiving earth. Trembling with different emotions, I pulled my feet out of my shoes and stepped on to the puddled ground. Instantly, I shivered, and stood motionless, silently praying for the attention to revert back to my sister’s burial service.
Slowly, like a creepy, psychotic, Halloween movie, the mourners turned their attention back to the undertaker and hole in the ground.
The earth felt squishy beneath my toes. I didn’t dare move my feet for fear that the water covering them would slosh around, making loud, distracting noises. So I stared at them, as I listened to the final words of the service.
The smell of a cigarette drifted into my sinuses. I coughed. The smoke smell intensified. I crinkled up my nose trying to stop the smoke from entering my nostrils. I could feel a heated gaze upon me. Without moving my head, I glanced sideways. I saw a man, dressed like a lumberjack, leaning up against the back fence near my car. He has a cigarette in one hand and something else in the other hand. I couldn’t tell what that something else was. I could only tell it was black.
As the words of the prayer faded, I could hear a piano playing “Amazing Grace.” “That’s impossible,” I quietly said, disbelieving. I shook my head like I was trying to shake out the craziness within it. I picked up a rose near my sister’s unfilled grave, kissed it, and tossed it on top of her casket. I then bent down to pick up my shoes, and beelined it to my car, just as the piano version of “Tears in Heaven” began.
The man straightened up, staring directly at me, as if he was willing me to come towards him. I couldn’t. I needed to get to my car. I could smell the rain. I could see the clouds accumulating moisture in the atmosphere. The last note of the song was near. I knew the rain would come down hard and fast once the last note played. I didn’t want to get caught in another rain storm. I wanted to go home. I wanted to feel dry and safe. And I wanted to gather up the courage to call Sheriff Campbell.
The man stubbed his cigarette out on the fence, and darted towards me. He grabbed the back of my arm just as I put my right leg into my car, almost pulling me off-balance.
“Who are you, and what do you want?” I said trying to not sound frightened.
“I want you. You look just like her,” he said seductively.
“Who? Who do I look like?”
“Jane,” he said as he tilted his head slightly to the right. His eyes turning black with intensity.
“Jane, is my twin,” I softly said. “Now let go!” I screeched.
He cautiously released my arm, gazing at me like he was sizing me up for a meal.
“You can go, but you will never find out what is in her journal.” He pulled his other arm forward, and showed me the black book in his hand. “And you will never know why I killed her.”
It felt like my heart stopped beating. Suddenly, everything was black. I couldn’t see anything but darkness. I heard the last note of “Tears in Heaven” play, and the rain rapidly fell from the darkened sky.
And then he was gone. He had vanished. I didn’t know who he was, or how to find him. The only thing I knew was he murdered my sister.
– Anneberly Andrews –
Written for Peregrine Arc’s Creative Contest: The Last Piano Note.