Christiana had no idea what she would do now that her family was gone from her life. She sighed sadly as she stared at their headstones, not realizing that it was beginning to rain. She knelt down and placed a rose with baby's breath intertwined around it upon each grave, said a prayer, then trudged slowly back to her car.
Resting her head upon the steering wheel, she tried to gain her composure before starting the engine and driving to the empty house that her and her family had lived in since before the accident occurred. As soon as she pulled into the driveway, she shut off the engine and walked carefully up the back steps, entering the kitchen area and sitting down near the counter. She fought the tears that threatened to fall from her eyes and stood up, cleaning up the counters and loading the dishes from this morning's meal into the dishwasher.
She proceeded to head into the den where she sat down at the computer table, contemplating what to write about. Letting her fingers hover over the keyboard, she let them take the pace and start the story all on their own. Not knowing what they would compose, she just let her mind wander and her thoughts flow freely to her hands, letting them guide her thoughts and form them into words of art.
"Mother! I am back from college!" she shouted, dropping her bags near the couch and dashing into the kitchen where her mother was busy baking cookies. Turning around, her mother smiled broadly and wrapped her arms around her eldest child. "Welcome home, my dearest Christiana. We have missed you so much, daughter," her mother said fondly. Christiana grinned as she looked at her mother's protruding belly. "I see you and father have been quite busy yourselves, mother," she replied, grinning mischievously.
Her mother swatted her daughter's arm and retorted," This child shall be my last, Christiana. It will be number 6 and then I shall make sure I do not have any more after she is born." Christiana laughed and kissed her mother's cheek. "After all these years, you and dad finally get to have another daughter. I hope you and dad are happy over it," she said. Her mother grinned and replied," We are ecstatic over it, Christi. We hope she will be just like you with your raven hair and green eyes."
Christiana grinned at the pet name her parents had given her when she was four years old and swiping a cookie from the cooling rack, rushed out of the room in search of her four younger brothers. After looking around all downstairs and finding neither hide nor hair of them, she walked up the stairs and headed to her room. Hearing stifled giggles coming from within, she chuckled and burst in, shocking her siblings.
They jumped up, frightened at first, but then they saw that it was their big sister and they jumped on her, giving her hugs. "We missed you so much, Christi! Promise you are going to stay for a long while. We hate it when you are gone from home!" they cried out, ecstatic over her being back home with them. Christiana hugged her little brothers back and replied," I am home for the whole summer, you guys. I have also planned special surprises for you. But I need a promise that you will behave all summer and not pester mom and dad." They agreed and ran out of her room.
Sighing happily, she sits down on her bed and looks around her room, making sure her little brothers didn't mess anything up. Content with knowing it was all the same as she had left it, she stood up and stretched, glad to be home with her family for the summer. After resting for a while, she went down to the kitchen to help her mother make dinner while her little brothers played happily in the back yard, getting into as much dirt as they could.
"It is quite good to have you home, daughter. Your father will be thrilled to see you and I am glad for your help with the kitchen duties," her mother said, looking quite exhausted. "Mother, why don't you go and rest while I finish making dinner? I will clean up our mess and set the table," Christiana replied, worrying. Her mother smiled gratefully and walked into the family room, laying down on the couch.
While dinner was cooking, Christiana called her brothers into the house and told them to head upstairs to clean up for dinner. They complied, grumbling under their breath as they did what she told them to do. She had the dishes, silverware, food and drinks and napkins all set out on the table when they came back down. She walked into the family room and helped her mother up just as her father walked into the house.
"You are just in time, dad. Dinner is already on the table and mother and I were just on our way into the dining room," she said, grinning at her father. He placed his jacket and briefcase down and wrapped her in a hug, then walked into the dining room for the feast. Her mother smiled warmly and exclaimed," Oh Christi! You did a marvelous job with dinner honey. I am so proud to know you are a great cook like I taught you to be." Christi's father nodded his head in agreement and started to eat the wonderful meal his eldest made for her family.
Telling all the fun things that happened while she was away, Christiana laughed with her family over the tricks, pranks, and fun things she told them. They finished their dinner and had cake and cookies for dessert, the boys having a glass of milk each with the delicious treats while the adults had coffee.
Afterwards, her family headed into the family room to settle down and watch a movie while Christiana cleared off the table and washed the dishes up. After she wiped the counters down, she wandered into the family room and smiled, thinking that she might surprise them while they were tuned into the movie.
Over the noise of the water running and the television being turned up loud, Christiana had not realized that someone had snuck into her home and waited behind the bookcase for her. She peeked into the room and saw that her family all sat on the couch, their heads resting to the sides. Thinking that they were all asleep, she crept silently in, hoping that she wouldn't wake them up.
Walking to the back of the couch, she saw that their eyes were open and they had wounds in each side of their heads. Crying out in sorrow and fear, Christiana ran from the room, unaware that the person responsible followed stealthily behind her. She ran to her bedroom and closed the door tightly, reaching out to grab the phone that sat upon her desk table. As soon as she grabbed it, her door flew open and the intruder lunged at her, wrenching the phone from her hands.
"Let go of me!" she cried out, trying to break free of his iron clad grasp on her wrists. He threw her into the wall, snickering as she landed with a hard thump and a cry. "You interrupted my work, little one. You will have to be taught a lesson," he said, his voice ragged and clearly disguised. She got slowly to her feet and glared at him, ignoring the searing pain she felt in the back of her head. "Why did you kill my family? They did nothing to you!" she screamed at him.
He swung out casually and caught her in the side of the face, making her stagger and grab her dresser to keep from falling. "Your father is the reason they all had to die. He placed my brother in jail without a single care of who would miss him and need him in their life," he growled. She looked at him sharply, trying to control her emotions and keep from springing at him. "If my father placed your brother in jail, I hope it was for a very good reason. It still does not give you the right to kill them in cold blood! My mother was pregnant, you creep!"
He laughed harshly, realizing that she had a fire burning brightly within her. Without warning, she ran at him and struck him as hard as she could. As he fell to the floor, she continued to kick, punch and scratch at him. He tried to fight her off, but her anger and rage were so great, it was futile. She went to kick him once more when he grabbed her by the ankle and flipped her, knocking her on her back. He crawled to a sitting position, angered at the pain he felt from her assault and grabbed her roughly by the hair, pulling her to her feet.
She clenched her teeth against the pain, and looked brazenly into his eyes. He slapped her with his other hand, his temper boiling to the surface. He punched her in her face, blackening her eye and splitting her lip open. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his gun, the silencer still attached and aimed it at her. Before she could dive out of the way, he pulled the trigger four times. She gasped and fell to her knees, feeling the bullets tear through her and watching with tears in her eyes as he fled the room and down the stairs.
Bleeding profusely, she crawled over to her phone which had fallen near her bed and dialed for help as she heard the front door slam. They said they would send help immediately and she hung up, dropping the phone and closing her eyes. Many hours later, she opened them and looked around, realizing that she was laying in a bed with monitors hooked up to her.
A nurse walked in to check her chart and saw that she was awake. Her face registering surprise and relief, the nurse turned and ran out of the room, returning just a few moments later with a doctor and two police officers. They stared at her with sympathy and compassion and she knew right away that her family was truly gone. She started to cry softly, the doctor whispering in her ear that she was going to be all right.
Turning to the officers, the doctor spoke quietly but with authority. "You are allowed to visit for ten minutes only. I do not want you to aggravate my patient. She has been through enough." They nodded and pulled chairs up to the bed, smiling softly at Christiana. The doctor walked out of the room with the nurse and closed the door softly behind them, giving the police officers privacy to talk with the patient.
Christiana looked at them and said slowly,"My parents and my brothers are dead. The one who did it got away, even though I tried to stop him." They looked down, grieving like she was over the death of a fellow officer and friend. "Your father was a good man who did not deserve to die, Christiana. I promise you we will catch his killer and bring him to justice," the younger policeman said. The older one nodded his head and leaned forward. "I worked with your father for over twenty years. He was a good friend of mine and if you know any details of who did this horrible thing to you and your family, please help us, ok?"
She nodded and wiped her tears away. "I was cleaning the kitchen while my family went into our family room to watch a movie. With the noise from the water running and the television being loud, I never heard a sound. When I was done, I walked in and thought they were merely sleeping. As I got closer, I saw the bullet holes and cried out, then ran up the stairs to call for help. The guy followed me and threw me into the wall after knocking the phone out of my hands. He said that dad placed his brother in jail and he got what was coming to him. He said he punished my dad and my family."
She took a moment, catching her breath before continuing. "My anger and rage took over and I fought with him. I managed to beat him quite a bit before he caught my ankle and threw me down. He punched me quite a few times then pulled the gun out of his pocket and opened fire. He was tall, muscular, and wore a dark blue hat and a black leather trench coat. He had some facial hair and from what I could see, his eyes were dark brown and his little bit of hair that could be seen from underneath his hat was brown as well."
The officers wrote down all of the information and thanked her for her help and cooperation. After promising to keep in touch, they left the room so that she could get some rest. She stayed in the hospital for two weeks and then was released. When she stepped foot into her home, she collapsed to her knees, crying out in grief as memories flowed all around her.
Feeling defeated, she walked to her parents' room and laid on their bed, falling fast asleep. Christiana slept all night long, visions and nightmares not making her slumber pleasant. As the sun peeped through the window, she sat up and yawned. Padding down to the kitchen, she made some coffee and sat curled up in the living room. Listening to a soft classical station she found on the radio, she drank her coffee and tried to think of what she would do now.
The phone rang, making her jump in surprise. She hesitated for a moment then answered. "Hello? Who is this?" she asked, her voice quaking. "This is your father's old partner, Christiana. We spoke in the hospital a few weeks ago," he said calmly. She sighed and shook her head at her nervousness. "Hello, officer. Did you find the man who killed my family and nearly killed me?" she asked, venom dripping in her voice.
He cleared his throat and responded,"We have him in custody and he admitted to murdering them. He will be going to jail for a very long time and won't be able to harm anyone ever again." She started to sob, thankful that they caught him so quickly. "What was the reason he gave for doing it?" she asked. He said sarcastically," He claims the demon in his mind told him to do it. We didn't believe him and neither did the judge. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole."
She thanked him for calling her and letting her know, then hung up and bowed her head in prayer. She asked Him to make sure her family would rest peacefully and that they knew she loved them dearly and would always keep them in her heart. She packed up their things and donated whatever she could, keeping only the things that she held dear and precious.
She mainly kept to herself for the next few months, only going out when it was absolutely necessary. After six months had gone by, she drove her car to the cemetery and located her family's graves. She told them everything that she had been doing and laid roses intertwined with baby's breath on their graves, telling them she loved them very much and hoped that one day she would see them again in the summer lands.
Moving on from the tragic event was hard, but Christiana managed to do it any way, always keeping the memory of her family embedded upon her heart. She met a nice young man and married him a few months later. They have four sons and two daughters together. They keep pictures of her family members on the family wall and tell their children about them when they ask.