Okay, over at The Inkpen Authoress, it is time for November Chatterbox! Learn more here. This month's topic is death. Lovely. :P
The whole house smelled of flowers. She couldn't get away from the smell of them. The lilacs and lilies with their thick, smothering scents seemed to descend down upon her, wrapping around her like fog. And she couldn't seem to get away.
And then there were the people. Dozens upon dozens of people swarming the house, tiptoeing in their slippery shoes and swishing their shimmer black dresses and blazers. Katrina just wished they would all leave. She wanted more than anything to run away and hide. But she couldn't, of course. She had to stand, and smile, and nod, and receive hugs the whole day as people filed through the living room, looking at the casket and coming over to give condolences.
Rick was the only one who seemed to understand. He stood by her, his arm around her waist, supporting her. She wanted to bury her head on his shoulder and cry, but she couldn't. She could only stand and watch as mom kept getting hugs and smiling and talking to people Katrina hardly knew.
But finally Pastor Renaldo came to the front of the room and Katrina could collapse onto a chair and listen to the service.
"1 Corinthians 15:55 says, " 'Oh death, where is thy victory. Oh grave, where is thy sting?' " Mr. Renaldo leaned his hands on his Bible and looked out at the people assembled. "We are gathered here today to remember Larry Stone. There are many of us who will weep and feel like saying " 'Why, Lord? Why did Larry/dad have to get cancer and go away from us all?' " And you know, we may never know until we get to heaven. Some things just aren't meant for us to know on this earth. But one thing we can do is to thank God for the time we did have Larry with us. I'd like you to open your Bibles and turn with me to......"
After the funeral there were more hugs and condolences to get through before mom, Rick and Katrina were left alone. Mom went into her room and shut the door and Rick went upstairs. Katrina stood for a moment in the middle of the living room, but the scent of flowers was too much and she turned and ran out of the house.
Across the fields she went, ignoring the growing ache in her side from the running. Her throat started to burn and her head grew light but she kept running. The back door slammed but she didn't look back. She knew Rick was coming after her but she didn't slow, not even as her breath began to choke her, coming out in ragged, wrenching gasps. Suddenly, her foot caught on a root and she tumbled head over heels to land flat on her back. Everything went black.
Lights flashed, whistles screamed, and she heard someone calling her name from a far distance. Katrina opened her eyes, her breathe wheezing through her chest. Rick was kneeling beside her, anger shooting from his eyes, her inhaler in his hand. He helped her sit up and she put it in her mouth, her breathing already beginning to go back to normal.
When she was breathing naturally again, Rick let go of her and stared off into the distant cow pastures. He didn't look at her at all, acting as if she wasn't even there. She knew he was mad but didn't move.
Finally he spoke. "That was because of dad, wasn't it."
She nodded painfully.
"I thought as much. It's not like you to run like that. You could have killed yourself doing that, you know," he said gravely.
"I know." There was a pause. Then, "I didn't care."
He turned to her then, eyes blazing. "Why not?"
"Because then I'd be with dad."
The eyes softened and Rick looked away. Katrina knew he was feeling terribly sad right now, and anger was the only way he knew how to show that deep of feelings. Her heart ached, not from her asthmatic attack, but out of sympathy for him. He and dad had been so close.
"Do you miss dad, Rick?" she asked softly.
He didn't look at her, only nodded his head in one short jerk. Katrina sighed. "So do I." They sat silently for a few moments before Katrina burst out, "Oh why did he have to go away?"
It was only then that Rick turned and wrapped her in a hug. "Shhh," he whispered into her hair. "It's alright."
She pulled away-- he sounded so much like all the people who had been to their house earlier that day. "Don't say that! It's not alright! Dad's gone and he isn't coming back!" Tears had by now found their slippery ways down her cheeks and Rick's eyes were brimming.
"I know he isn't coming back," he said finally. "But we'll see him again one day. Remember what Mr. Renaldo said? We need to praise God, not question His Will. He knows best. He always does"
Katrina leaned against him. "I wish people didn't have to die, Rick. It's so hard for the people left. I hope I die before anyone else in this family, that way I don't have to miss them when they die."
He hugged her tighter. "What about us, Kat?"
Katrina sniffed. "Fine, we can die at the same time."
He laughed then, just like dad used to, and Katrina closed her eyes. "You sound like daddy."
He kissed the top of her head. "I'm glad. I wish you could have sent more time with him, Kat. I was with him so much in the truck, but you were almost always at home. I-- I wish I could make it up to you."
She smiled sadly. "Make it up to mommy."
Rick turned and gazed toward the house. "She's the bravest woman I know, isn't she Kat?"
Katrina nodded. "The bravest ever."
"We need to be brave for her sake," Rick said, standing up. "Come on, let's go back."
Katrina climbed to her feet, holding onto his hand. "Okay Rick. But you can do one thing for me."
"Please take the flowers out of the house," she sobbed, breaking down again.
"Oh Kitty," Rick sighed, tears coming again. "I promise."
"Thanks for calling me Kitty," she whispered.
"That was dad's nickname for you, wasn't it?"
"Yes." But I'd like it if you'd call me it now."
"I promise." She smiled and leaned against him. And they walked back to the house, supporting each other as they went, leaving the bad memories behind.