Here is the newest revision of the story, now set in the correct tense and including mild dialogue. CRITIQUE AWAY!
The funeral was today. As funerals go, it was a nice one. Alex’s family seemed to appreciate the lengths they had gone to in order to make it nice, but to Katherine, the flowers were cheery when she wanted to be sad, the songs were somber when she needed uplifting. There was no happy medium found in a single, solitary moment of the day. She felt anger well up inside her. A feeling that resided in her throat, just waiting to break free, as she watched one half of the crowd weep and cry and the other half attempt some level of normalcy. She felt unexplainable resentment towards the weeping few, because there was no way they could possibly have loved him as much or in the same way as she had, yet she felt utter frustration for the group that was merely trying to keep the kids occupied.
“How can they not be taking this seriously?” she screamed within. “Have
they no respect for the dead? For the living?!”
Katherine felt the words, hot in her mouth, fighting to break free. She wanted so badly to stand in the middle of this crowded, obnoxious room and scream, but knew in her heart that most of the people in this house felt exactly the same way. They were all trying to cope as best they could and she was no exception.
Then, there was Shay. She was buzzing around the house as if she were a Jack Russell that had secretly nose dived into the Folger’s stash. There was no slowing her down, and no use in trying. Katherine watched silently, as Shay cleaned the imaginary dirt from around the seated guests. She’d sweep the make-believe crumbs into her hand and make a trip all the way to the trash can in the kitchen. It was almost as if she wanted out, but was completely caged by her duty to represent her
family. Who knows. Katherine continued to watch and then gathered that maybe Shay really had seen dirt and she was only reading too much into it. There was no way of knowing what was going through her friends mind at that point there is no way on earth she could ever imagine what she is feeling. Katherine stood, poising herself to leave the room and allowed Shay to occupy herself anyway she could. She saw to it that the guests were fed and that mundane tasks are taken care of before she left
to check on the baby. That is what she was there for anyhow; to be stable.
She walked into the back bedroom to check on Britton. She is wimpering
softly in her crib, freshly awakened by the clammering people in the next room. She sits up and smiles a tired, sleepy eyed smile. Her soft blond curls frame her face and are back lit by the window to her left. Katherine can see the tear stained cheeks and the pouty lips, and those beautiful, outstretched arms. She reaches for her and Britton immediately begins clawing at her blouse as she lifts her from the crib.
One chubby grasp has a handful of Katherine’s top and the other holds onto her blanket for dear life. Katherine had bought that blanket for her the day she came home from the hospital. Soft, pink chenille, embroidered Britton Shay in the corner. She was named after the road she was born on. En route to the hospital, Britton decided that she was going to come THEN and there was no stopping her. To this day, a year later, she still holds that tenacity. Katherine giggles to herself as
she remembers fondly exactly where she got that trait. Her mother. They take a seat together in the overstuffed rocker. Katherine doesn’t bother to turn on the lights, as she’s hoping Britton will soon fall back asleep. This room is her haven, safe from a sea of great-aunts and other miscellaneous relatives who have itchy pincher fingers that want nothing more than to pinch her round, rosey cheeks. Katherine takes a deep breath and begins to hum What a Wonderful World.
“I hear babies cry….I watch them grow…They’ll learn much more…than I’ll
ever know. And I think to myself…what a wonderful world…”
In a matter of moments, Britton has snuggled her face deep into Katherine’s neck. She can feel Britton’s hot breath on her shoulder and her heartbeat against her chest. She makes soft cooing noises as she drifts off to sleep. Her daddy used to call those coos her “Daddy Love”. He would swear up and down that she only did it with him. No one had the heart to tell him she did it for everyone. As the image of
Alex holding his baby girl in his arms comes to her mind, Katherine begins to cry. Her silent tears stream down her face and onto Britton’s outfit.
“How could this happen, God? How could he leave them? What in the world are they going to do without him?”
Her sobs become stronger and she feels her body shake with emotion when a voice rocks her from her thoughts.
“Katherine, Dear, we need more napkins.”
“Yes, Mrs. Fletch,” Katherine answered softly. “I’ll be right there.”
Katherine sat for a moment longer, watching Britton sleep, breathing in her sweet, baby powder smell and her innocence. She rock to the rhythm of her breathing and gently patted her back. The tears subsided as she began to pray once more. She prayed for herself, asking for the strength to help this family survive, but mostly, she prayed for Britton to remember her daddy and for Shay to gain the courage she so
desperately needed to pull herself together. Life leads you down interesting roads, but Katherine is a firm believer that each one holds a story and an unending wealth of possibilites. As she gently laid Britton down in her crib, she had a feeling that Britton was not only going to be a passenger on the road that life has lead her mother to, but maybe, just maybe, she would be her guide. Her compass. Her