There was an eerie silence surrounding the place and time just seemed to have slowed down. Either that or it had sped up, I really couldn’t tell anymore. The whole town was blanketed in snow like something you might see in a movie. White snow with black curtains, reminding us of the reason we were here in the first place and not out in the snow playing like the children of our past, children we were meant to have outgrown by now.
My fingers were bitterly cold and I could feel the frostbite beginning to set in. Allie was shaking involuntarily because of her constant weeping but the cold couldn’t have helped in the slightest. Stupid of her really to wear a short, sleeveless dress in the middle of winter, but I had no right to give out to her, make her feel wore than she already did.
Everyone seemed to be crying, which I suppose was understandable; It was a funeral after all. However I was unable to shed a tear, unable to feel anything besides numbness. Well actually that wasn’t entirely true; my collarbone was driving me insane. It was still slightly swollen even these two days since the crash.
It wasn’t the only thing I broke, but it was possibly the cleanest break. Needless to say my heart was a mess; no doctor could even begin to save it. The pieces seemed to be stuck inside me, like broken glass. I still felt broken inside getting up in the morning. Is there an amount of time allocated for mourning? Like a quota of some sorts? Will there be one day where I wake up and it doesn’t hurt?
The grave was surrounded with people I didn’t know. I sincerely doubt that Jamie even knew them! Who were you? An uncle? Great-aunt? Third Cousin, twice removed? People through whom the only contact you had with was an occasional birthday or Christmas card. Maybe a random text to say “Hi, long time, no see!” It was almost sickening to think that they were really only here for the free tea and coffee.
I stood with my head bowed, holding Allie’s hand for strength. There was very little I knew about what I was meant to do at occasions like this. Was I meant to stay strong for Allie and Alan and the McKenzie family? Or was I meant to run away and not come back until I had healed?
My mother was on the opposite side to me, comforting Annalise McKenzie; or at least trying to. I don’t think there was anything you could have said to Annalise that would have made the situation any better. Still my mother tried, because she knew that Annalise appreciated her being there, even if she wasn’t able to say it.
The chatter died down and I realise that this is my queue to speak. The silence reminds me of just after the crash, the first moment when I opened my eyes. The headlights flash before me and a shiver runs down my back. I look up once again at the crowd around me and see them staring at me.
“Jamie…” I cleared my throat and squeezed Allie’s hand, begging the words to come out the way I wanted them to. “…was a remarkable person.” I glanced around the grave at the McKenzie’s; All six of them, missing just one. I willed them to understand how truly sorry I was, how I knew that it was all my fault, how I had just caused them the biggest heartbreak that they would ever have. Yet I knew that no matter what I said to them, they would never come to hate me the way I hated myself.
“He lived life to the full; he’d never make it through the day without a smile or a laugh, but most of all he was... Loving and young and just an all round beautiful person” Allie wiped my eyes and let out a little whimper, but I kept going. I felt that if I didn’t say this now, I would never ever get a chance to say it again. “I pray to God, that if there is any justice; Jamie will be in a much better place than this.” I looked up to the heavens, hoping that somewhere above us, there was at least some sort of God, who could hear me, who could understand how angry I was. Really at that moment I wasn’t sure if I was cursing God for taking my best friend or begging him to give Jamie back.
People were still staring at me, but I didn’t really care all that much. I pulled the collar of my coat up around my neck. You can see my breath in the cold air and I have a sudden urge to exhale like I am smoking. I see my mother looking at me. No, correction; she was giving me one of those looks that always tells me to stop. I bit my lip to stop myself erupting in a fit of giggles but still there is a smile forming on my lips.
“Let us commend James to the mercy of God” Somewhere to the right of me, I can hear some high pitched squealing or wailing or whatever you would like to call it. Personally I call it pathetic. I search for the source and sure enough find a blonde, blue–eyed cheerleader. Goes by the name of Stephanie Pritchard I think. “We therefore commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. In the certain hope...” Allie ripped her hand from mine and rushed away from the grave. I paused a moment before deciding to follow her.
I had only taken a few steps when I heard the crunching of snow coming from behind me. I looked over my shoulder to see a couple of my friends following me. I almost wished they wouldn’t but it was nice to know that I had that support there for me. I tried a smile, just something small to let them know I appreciated the thought.
I glanced around at Alan who was looking just a little fidgety. His eyes trailed over his mother who was whimpering softly in his father’s arms, then at the coffin where his brother was enclosed and finally at us, slowly making our way through the thin layer of snow towards a tall sycamore where Allie has positioned herself. After a little hesitation, he turned around, whispered in his brother, Andy’s ear and limped behind us on his crutches.
“Allie?” I called out, not all that loudly. My voice shook even without my meaning to. It was exactly the same tone I used when I was trying to wake Jamie after we first crashed. The only thing was that he hadn’t been asleep; Death on impact they told me. They probably thought that it would help but really all it made me feel was like he had been deprived of the chance to fight.
Allie was sitting at the base of the tree, with her face in her hands. “Com’on!” I swallowed loudly, preparing myself for the onslaught of tears that would terrorize me in my sleep for days to come. I sat down beside her and wrapped my good arm around her, drawing her close. Instead of weeping profusely into my lap like I had expected she erupted into a small fit of giggles. “You’re laughing Allie? You’re actually laughing?”
As Michaela and Damien formed some sort of semi-circle around us, I worried just a little whether they would think she was absolutely crazy. “You were blowing ‘smoke’ like you were a kid!” She exclaimed bend double in another spasm. “Did you see the look your mom gave you? It was like we were three again” She tried to replicate one of those exasperated mom looks but failed miserably. This just made it all the more difficult at maintaining a straight face and I eventually succumbed to laughter.
“Did you see Bethany and Stephanie bawling their eyes out?” I countered and Allie rolled her eyes in response. Michaela, who had always had a hate-hate relationship with Bethany Stewards, nearly tripped over at the opportunity of mocking her. “I’m Ms. Bethan-slut Stew-whore!” She sang and danced around aimlessly, making all of us laugh even harder; Even Damien who up until that moment had managed to stay at least a little sane.
We all were laughing ourselves silly, when suddenly Alan came around the corner. We all paused, waiting for his reaction because; after all it was his brother’s funeral. “I bet Stephanie is really regretting turning Jamie down for the prom last year!” He smiled cheekily.
I chuckled and pushed myself up off the ground, allowing Alan to sit down. His knee must have been killing him with all the standing and walking he had done all day. He grunted as he settled himself on the ground.
“How are you feeling?” I found myself asking him the question that I most despised hearing. I could feel the blood rush to my cheeks but I was saved by the sound of wailing girls tripping over each other to leave the graveyard. They were followed by the rest of the crowd who more than likely wanted to get out of the bitter cold.
The guys around me were laughing hysterically at the sight of Bethany practically being dragged away from the grave. I could hear her scream out “I loved him so much” in between her pathetic sobs. “Wouldn’t know love if it hit her in the face and broke her nose”
Although it was meant to be a serious comment, everyone was howling with laughter again at the thought. The snow was settled over the whole graveyard, like a blanket of cold harsh beauty.