I sat here in the car, not realizing that the people were now walking out of the funeral home. As the hearse pulled up in front of the home, and the casket was carried out by his brothers, who I believe was his father, and three other men. Samantha and his two girls walked out hand in hand with a woman next to them. The two girls looked ahead—the older one with tears in her eyes, and the younger one, leaning on her mother looking like she needed a nap.
They placed the body in the hearse, and the family got into the limo, waiting for them. I watched them pull out of the parking lot, the limo following the casket. I waited till I was one of the last cars left in the parking lot before I finally pulled out and made my way home.
For the next three weeks, I watch my sister fall deeper and deeper into an abyss. I watch her die a little bit more, and I’m powerless to help her. I’m finally off shift from the fire station when my phone rings.
“Hey there.” I hear Crystal’s voice low and almost in a whisper.
“Hey, yourself,” I breathe out. “What’s up?”
“I’m going to see her,” she says as I hear a car door close.
“Going to see who?” I ask, not sure who she is talking about.
“The wife,” she says. “I have to go see her.”
“I don’t think that is such a great idea. Honestly, what good can come of that?” I ask her, thinking about how she can possibly answer this.
“I have to know what she’s like. I have to know for Hailey,” she says, and I know that I have to take her. I don’t think she will be able to hold back. I pick her up and then follow the address she gives me, pulling up to the quiet little house.
“You sure about this?” I ask Crystal when I finally turn off the car. She looks around, not saying anything but nodding her head.
It’s been three weeks since Eric has died, two weeks since his brothers came to the house and ‘claimed’ all his belongings. Two weeks since Hailey was served with papers demanding she cease and desist using Eric’s name.
I get out of the car, looking at the little gray house with flowers lining the walkway. The brown door with the hanging welcome sign. Crystal looks down at her feet, takes a deep breath, and then starts to walk toward the house with me following right behind. When we get to the door, Crystal reaches out to ring the doorbell, and we hear the sound from the open window upstairs.
We hear footsteps approaching the door. “Here we go,” Crystal says, and I hold my breath as the door creaks open.
The door swings open, and there standing in the middle is the woman who has haunted my dreams since the funeral. The woman who in my dream is lost and turns to me for help, but each time I’m about to reach out to her and help her, she vanishes right through my fingertips. The woman with blond hair that is straight and long, coming over her thin shoulder. Her big brown eyes, too big for her face, her cheeks more sunken in than before. Her clothes look like they are five sizes too big for her. “Can I help you?” Her voice comes out soft as she looks from Crystal to me. Her eyes stop on me, but she doesn’t say anything more.
“I’m Crystal.” Samantha’s eyes go big when she recognizes the name.
“We are sorry to just barge in on you,” I start saying when she looks at me again. It’s the same look she gave me at the funeral, except now there is more, there’s so much more, and I can’t put my finger on it. “We were wondering …”
Samantha moves out of the way. “Please come in,” she says as we walk in. “Don’t take off your shoes,” she says to us as she turns and walks into her house. The entrance is closed in, and when we walk into the home, we both stop in our tracks. Pictures of Eric are all over the walls; pictures of his family fill the whole wall in the living room. Pictures of him and the girls littered the room.
Samantha turns around and watches us look at all her pictures. “That was taken the day we found out we were expecting our third child. Two weeks later, I miscarried.” She points at the big portrait of the four of them. “Would you like to sit here or in the kitchen?”
“I can’t sit in this room,” Crystal says, but at that moment as I’m looking at Eric in the picture, I know that if he was still alive, I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from destroying him. “It’s just too much.” Samantha nods her head as if she understands.