Eric woke up early, as he did every morning. The bus would come in an hour and a half, but he had a lot to do. First, he checked on his sister, making sure she was still asleep. He relaxed when he saw her still form, chest rising and falling, with a book resting on her belly. Eric grabbed the book - Pulsebound, he noticed - placed a bookmark in where it had been open to, and put it on Emily’s dresser.
He walked back out, closing the door most of the way, then went back down the hall to his room. Eric reviewed what he would do in school as he dressed and gathered his things. In first hour I have a test, which shouldn’t be a problem. Second hour is choir, so there’s nothing to worry about there. Third hour I assume I’m doing a test, and as for fourth and fifth hour, I have no idea.
Eric slung his bag on his shoulder, and walked downstairs. He turned left, to the kitchen, and began making a breakfast of hobo potatoes. He washed the potatoes, and pulled out the carrots. Eric rummaged through his bag until he found a key. He walked over to the knife drawer, and slid the key in the lock. He pulled out the peeler and a chef knife, then closed and locked it again. He chopped up the carrots, peeled and diced the potatoes, and placed them in a greased pan. As they began to cook, he washed the knife and peeler, then placed them back in the drawer, locking it after he closed it. He cooked the rest of the meal, adding spices and meat to the concoction as the roots softened.
When Eric had finished cooking the meal, he divided the food onto two plates, and left one plate on the counter for his mother. He put a lid on the other, and carried it up to Emily’s room, placing it on her dresser next to the book, with a plastic fork and a glass of water. The bus would be there in five minutes.
Eric walked to the bus stop, and checked his watch. About one minute. He leaned against the stop sign. He didn’t talk to anyone, partially because he didn’t want to talk, and partially because he was the only person there. He sat up when he heard the rumble of the bus. The doors opened, and he walked onto the bus. As Eric walked onto the bus, he heard the familiar giggles, chuckles, and remarks. He didn’t mind. He just sat down in his usual spot, near the front of the bus, and watched the scenery pass as the bus drove.
Soon enough, the bus pulled up to the school, and kids filed out of the bus, some talking with friends, or listening to music, but Eric walked silently into the building, and through the dim halls to his locker. He took off his jacket, and hung it up inside the locker, taking his hand out of the locker only just fast enough to avoid getting it slammed in the door. Eric glared at the boys as they walked away, laughing over their little joke. He rolled his eyes as they rounded a corner and shrugged it off.
After a hurried school breakfast, Eric walked to math, and waited for class to start.
As Eric had assumed would happen, he did well on the math test, nothing unusual had happened in choir, although he was doing an essay in Mr. Johnson’s class. Still, a test was pretty close to an essay. Fourth and fifth hour had been pretty normal as well, just working on assignments.
As Eric walked on the bus, he became increasingly impatient to get home. Every fiber of his being seemed to ache as he calmly walked onto the bus and took his usual seat. He itched to stand and pace as he waited for the bus to reach his stop, but he sat, seemingly calm and relaxed. Eric watched out the window, anxious to see that familiar stop sign in that empty field. When it came into sight, he straightened and got ready to leave the bus.
Eric walked off the bus, but ran as fast as he could to his house. He knew that the kids still on the bus would be laughing, but he didn’t care. He ran, feeling as slow as a snail even though the wind whipped his jacket around him. Eric burst through the front door, and ran upstairs, not bothering to close the door. He cracked open Emily’s door, but it was dark. He opened it up more, and saw her reading in the dark on her bed. He sagged in relief, then turned her light on.
“Reading in the dark ruins your eyes, Em.” He said when she looked up.
“How was school?” She replied.
“Good enough. I’ll be back, I forgot to close the door.” He walked down the stairs again, and closed the door, then went back up. Emily had straightened her bed, and sat up, her long hair still messy. Eric saw she had eaten the breakfast he had made, although not very much of it. He decided not to mention it. “So, how was your day?”
“Hm. Well, I slept until about nine a.m. and ate the breakfast you made,” She gestured toward the mostly full plate, “then I read my book. To be honest, I didn’t even notice the time passing.”
“What part are you at anyway?”
“Well, Ash just got kidnapped.” She rubbed her forearms, as if her long sleeves didn’t keep her warm. “Did anything interesting happen during school?”
“No, not really. A couple tests, but I passed them.” Eric shrugged.
“Hm. Well, do you need help with your homework? Assuming you have some.”
“That would be nice.”
Before Eric went to bed, he checked on Emily again. She was awake, as usual, despite the late hour. He bid her good night, and went to bed. But he couldn’t fall asleep. What if Emily did it tonight? Eric got back up, and checked on her again. She was still reading on her bed, long hair in a braid going down her back. Nothing had changed from how it was half an hour ago. Eric went back to his room, grabbed his pillow and blanket, then settled in the hallway, and finally drifted off to sleep.
The faint buzzing of Eric’s alarm woke him up. He gathered his sleeping items, and shuffled over to his room to get ready for the day. When he checked the time, the time was 5:45, just enough time to make a good breakfast for his mom and sister before he had to go.
Eric hurriedly got ready for school as he considered what he would do in school that day. Not much. Finishing his essay in Mr. Johnson’s, no idea for math, choir would be normal, biology would be fine, and foods and nutrition was always easy.
He walked down the stairs, feeling like he was forgetting something, but shrugged it off. Eric almost always thought he was forgetting something. He made a breakfast of waffles and homemade syrup, then walked up the street to the bus stop. Eric waited for the bus, which would be there very soon.
When the bus opened its doors, and he took his seat, he realized what he had forgotten. Eric hadn’t checked on Emily.
Eric couldn’t concentrate on anything after that. For the rest of the day, the only thought in his mind was that Emily could be dead, and it would be his fault, because he didn’t check on her. Eric broke down in tears during fourth hour, and had to leave the room. He insisted that he was okay, and continued with the school day, trying to persuade himself that Emily would be alright. That she would be done with reading Pulsebound when he got home, and they would do his homework, and watch a movie together, and everything would be alright. But he couldn’t stop the sinking feeling of guilt and worry.
He ran off the bus faster than he ever had before. All Eric could hear was the pounding of his heart, the rush of wind, and his own thoughts nagging at him. He flung the door open and raced up the stairs. He paused briefly at Emily’s door and opened up, but she wasn’t there. He saw her book, closed, with a note taped to the cover.
He read the note, his hand trembling as he read. Tears were flowing down his face, blurring the words.
“I'm sorry. I realize that you will be sad that I have died, but there's nothing for me here, and I'm just a waste of space. I feel like I am worthless and unnecessary. I just want you to remember that everyone is facing their own fight. But I know in a year, you'll forget I'm gone. I am not needed on earth any longer and I hope this makes you stronger. Eric, you're the best friend that I ever had and I’m sorry I'm making you so sad. But I want you to remember that you meant everything to me. I'm watching over you from the clouds above and sending down the purest and whitest angel to watch over you. But, I need you all to know, this is not your fault. No matter what, this was not your fault. I will die, and that is not your fault. I love you all, and I hope you all live the best lives anyone could ever have. ~ Emily”
Eric tossed the note on Emily’s bed, then ran outside. She most likely hadn’t gone very far, and if he was fast enough, he might be able to get there in time. Assuming she hasn’t already done it. Eric shook his head, banishing such thoughts. He needed to concentrate. Where would she go?
He scanned the horizon, thinking of what lay beyond his sight. The waterfall to the south, nothing to the west, the major city area to the east, and the old water mill to the north. Eric decided to go to the mill, partially because it was closer, partially because he felt like he knew Emily was there.
He grabbed his bike and biked west until he hit the dirt road, then ran like the devil was chasing him. Eric stumbled once or twice, but made it to the mill in five minutes, the fastest he had ever gone. But he didn’t feel like celebrating. Eric stared up at Emily’s corpse hanging from a rope tied to an old rafters tie. Eric couldn’t think, and time seemed to slow. But she was supposed to be getting better. His thoughts whirled in circles, and he didn’t do anything for a while.
Eric stumbled back to his bike and rode it back to his house where he called his mother. He couldn’t help but cry when she answered.
“You all right, Eric?” She questioned.
“She’s gone, Mom.”
“Who?” Eric could hear when she realized who he meant, and her voice grew frantic. “She’s not in the basement? Or the attic?”
“Emily-” He broke off, unable to believe what he was saying, “Emily went to the mill, Mom, and she…”
“I’ll be there soon, honey.” She hung up.
He sat on their old flowery couch, but stood again, and ran up the stairs, hoping beyond hope that Emily was fine, sitting on her bed, waiting for him to get home. Eric opened the door, and saw the note, her empty bed, and cluttered dresser. All the same as it always was, but empty and cold without her there. Tears sprung in his eyes again, and he wiped them away with little success. Eric felt as though a weight had settled on him, making it seem hard to breath. He sat back down on the couch and waited.
When the door opened, Eric stood and walked to his mother. She wrapped him in a hug, and the scent of iodoform enveloped him. She murmured comforting words to him as he sobbed on her shoulder. Eventually, he let his hold on her relax, and let her step inside and close the door. His mother broke the silence first.
“They’re taking her to the morgue now.” Her soft voice broke.
Eric nodded in acknowledgement. “I’m going to my room for now.”
He walked up the stairs and into his room. He sat at his desk and stared at his pictures of Emily on his billboard. He smiled slightly at the picture of her first prom date. She had been so shocked that John White had wanted to go with her, of all the girls in the school. In her yellow dress, she looked like Belle. Emily’s smile could brighten anyone’s day, no matter the circumstance. Almost no matter the circumstance.
His smile faded, and he felt his eyes fill with tears once more. Eric didn’t wipe them away, but continued looking at the pictures late into the night.
At the viewing, just a week later, Eric couldn’t help but feel angry at everyone there. Half of the people hadn’t known what she was going through, and the other half didn’t care, the only exceptions being himself and his mother. He knew that he shouldn’t be mad, but he couldn’t help it. He didn’t act upon his anger, trying to suppress it, thinking it would fade soon enough.
Eric walked to Emily’s casket, not wanting to see her, but feeling obligated to. Her pale face looked peaceful, and he couldn’t help but think that the morticians did a pretty good job at covering the bruises around her neck. A good job, unless you had seen the rope around her neck before. In his mind’s eye, he saw her hanging there, eyes still open and staring out at nothing, as lifeless as glass. Eric shook his head slightly, trying not to think of it, and walked away again.
“Eric?” A woman’s voice said. He turned, looking for the source. When he spotted her, he found that the speaker was a twig thin woman with the brightest red lipstick he had ever seen. The woman walked closer to him. “Oh, Eric, you’ve gotten so big!”
“Thanks.” Eric was confused as to who this was, and how he knew her. She didn’t look like a relative, but her face was coated in so much makeup you’d never know anyway. He decided to play it safe and pretend he knew her.
“I’m your Aunt Beth! I know you don’t remember me, ‘cause the last time I saw you, you were freshly made!” Eric felt queasy, both from the thought of being in the room with his sister’s corpse, and Beth’s word choice.
“Ah, I feel better now.” He attempted a joke.
“Oh, it’s a horrible thing, isn’t it? I heard you were the first on the know, too. Oh, it’s a horrible thing, that she was suffering and no one knew. Did you have any idea that she was in so much pain she decided to do this?”
“I knew.” Eric choked a little on the words. “I knew, but I couldn’t help.”
“Oh, it’s not your fault.” Beth began, but stopped. “Oh! It’s your uncle Tom! I’ll be right here if you want to talk.”
Just as suddenly as the black haired woman had come, she left. As the hour passed, Eric felt as though he was being tossed from one relative to another, the worst being his cousin Megan. As they talked, she attempted to casually bring up the subject of what would happen to Emily’s belongings now that she was gone. Eric angrily told her that he and his mother would be keeping it, and Megan would never get her filthy paws on any of it. That was the end of the conversation.
Eric stomped away, and took a seat. As he looked around, he saw some wet faces, but many remained dry. He still felt angry, like a pot of water heating up, getting ready to boil. He tried to calm down, telling himself it was just grief making him mad. But it didn’t help.
After a time that had seemed too long, everyone was leaving for lunch, which would be at his house, and made mostly by him. The burial would be directly after they had lunch. The thought of eating made Eric feel ill, and he didn’t eat the food he had taken. He just stirred it around his plate, still bitter. The time passed surprisingly quickly and Eric’s mother drove them to the cemetery. As they walked across the grounds, he tried his best to walk around the graves. Eric had always felt as though someone was walking on his grave when he walked on another's.
As he watched the casket get placed down into the ground, he felt tears slide down his cheeks. Suddenly, it all felt more real, as if he was waking from a dream. Eric’s throat tightened as he began to sob, and he felt his mother wrap her arms around him. As everyone began to talk to each other, before leaving, he walked around, looking at the gravestones. Eric had always liked looking at them with Emily. And now that’s all she is. A gravestone to be seen by others.
Author Notes: This is based off a thing I saw on pinterest. Please review!