winged creatures

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    Winged Creatures

    I first met Sera when she was face down in the lake. I thought she was dead. The

    water was calm that day and it was warm and sunny outside. The mosquitoes were

    beginning to swarm in clouds above the lake. My summer holiday had just started a week

    previously and my parents decided to visit the state of my choice that year. I picked

    Maine because its name was spelled like main only different and I had heard that it was

    pretty that far north. Plus, it was sort of a part of New England and being that I am

    English, I thought it made sense.

    She had floated right up to the shallow water along the dock and didnt move

    when I poked her back with a stick. I was about to yell for help when she sprung out of

    the water in a shower of brown lake water, coughing and laughing in between her gasps

    for breath. I fell directly onto my ass and for a moment I thought I was going to have a

    heart attack or something. I had my hands over my eyes. I was much to old for that sort

    of behavior, but she really surprised me.

    She continued to laugh. I removed my hands from my face and squinted. The sun

    was behind her, so at first I couldnt see anything but the shadow of her. She had a halo

    of light around her head and I had to shade my eyes to look into the face of the girl I

    thought was dead. She was tall; at least she looked tall. Her hair was black and shiny and

    her eyes were greenish. She was wearing a red bikini and her skin was browned by a tan.

    She smiled.

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    Get enough of an eyeful, yet? She asked, brushing the water off herself with the

    sides of her hand. It pooled around her.

    Pardon? What? I was still confused by the strange girl dripping water from her

    body.

    Me, silly. You were checkin me out.

    Oh. Sorry, I justwell, I thought that youwere, um dead.

    Nope, not likely. Quite alive. She made drumming sounds on her stomach with

    her flattened palms. It wasnt any beat in particular. Do you want some help up?

    I hadnt realized that I was still sitting on the ground. I tried to play off her offer.

    Im fine, thanks.

    I struggled to my feet. I had dirt on my new shorts. And I had just bought them

    two days previously. She laughed at me as I brushed myself off. My face felt warm, I was

    probably blushing.

    I was still a little awkward around girls. Youd think that I had enough practice. I

    had went to a secondary school in London the previous semester. The girls outnumbered

    the boys most of the time Id been there. My school was small. My parents were wealthy

    so I went a private school with old, smelly hallways and mean instructors. Even my

    mates were only tolerable during school days. I didnt speak to them much during the off

    times anyway when I came back home to the states.

    Whats your name? I asked the girl.

    Who wants to know? She sounded mean or bossy; I hadnt decided which yet.

    It would take me a while to figure her out anyway. She was wringing out her hair. She

    would twist it into thick, black ropes and squeeze it until she felt sure she had removed

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    most of the water. I watched her, fascinated. The water dyed the dock planks a deep

    brown.

    I would.

    Whats your name, kid? She asked this as if I were younger than her although I

    was sure we were the same age or at least, close to it.

    Im Brighton Garrish.

    Youre British.

    Yes, I am.

    Where are you from?

    Im from Fayetteville.

    Carolina? Not London or something?

    Actually, my parents are from London. I was born here.

    She stopped and looked at her painted toenails for a moment.

    Ive never been to London. Never been that far from Skowhegan before. Not

    even out of Maine.

    She sounded a little sad.

    A lot of people havent been overseas before. This past year was my first time in

    London.

    Youd never been before?

    Yes. Once. But I was an infant. I much prefer it here in the States anyways.

    The States?

    Yes.

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    Thats funny that you call here the States. She smiled at me. Do have any

    money?

    I checked my shorts pocket. I had a few dollars rolled neatly and held with a

    rubber band. A bit.

    Do you want to get some ice cream? I know a good place nearby. Well have to

    walk though. My parents wont let me drive until I get my license. Some kids I know

    drive already even though theyre not supposed to. How old are you?

    We started to walk up one of the trails from the lake. We were barefoot and some

    of the small pebbles hurt my feet as I walked alongside her. I didnt complain though.

    The pine trees alongside the trail stretched up into the sky and shadowed our path from

    the sun.

    Im fourteen. I didnt want to tell her that I had only recently become fourteen.

    Perhaps she would think I was older.

    Me too. Just a week ago. She was my age, after all.

    Okay. Thats cool.

    I like your eyes. She said as we emerged from the trees and crossed the hot

    asphalt of the main road.

    After we had ordered our desserts and I had given the clerk the money for it, we

    sat on the short wooden fence surrounding the ice-cream cone shaped building. We talked

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    about our schools and families and I learned that her name was Serapha Peyton. She had

    a psychological disorder called Polyphobia. I had asked her what it meant.

    Thanatophobia, Centophobia, Hierophobia.

    I told her I didnt understand.

    Im afraid of dying and empty rooms and anything related to churches.

    Polyphobia is the fear of many things. I go to a shrink because of them. My parents have

    a rough enough time, but then they have a crazy daughter to suck out more money.

    I told her that I liked her name.

    Thanks. It means angel, pretty much, although if you hang out with me long

    enough youll see that that isnt true at all. She smirked. What does Brighton mean?

    Im not rightly sure. Im named after an uncle that died at a young age.

    My parents were hippies. She said this between licks of her blueberry vanilla

    cone. It dribbled onto her brown thigh and I tried hard not to look at the sticky bluish

    pools of melted ice cream on her leg. They named my two brothers and I after weird

    things. I think they did a lot of drugs when they were younger and it screwed up their

    brains. She giggled at herself.

    I had asked what her brothers names were.

    My oldest brother is Lennon, because he was born the day after Lennon was

    shot. And apparently he had such a huge impact of my parents lives. And my little bro is

    Dante, after the book. That was the last whole book my mom read before she dropped out

    of school and married my dad. The Inferno. She was real smart in school, but she got

    pregnant with Lennon and dropped out.

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    I couldnt imagine dropping out of school. I thought of all of the hard work it took

    just to stay in school, and I could never leave it unfinished. I feel obligated to finish the

    things I start. I had just finished my chocolate cone and was scratching my neck as she

    said this.

    Was it good?

    What, the scratch? I asked, confused.

    Your ice cream, stupid.

    I did feel stupid. I should have been paying closer attention to my new friend. My

    mind does tend to wander sometimes.

    It was very good.

    So are you staying on the lake? She asked as she played with the melted cream

    on her thigh. She swirled it around into a spiral shape and then began to lick her

    fingertips.

    Yes, my parents have rented a cabin on Millers Lane.

    Is it nice?

    Yes, I suppose so. Weve only arrived yesterday.

    Thats cool. Are your parents rich?

    Pardon?

    You dont pay a lot of attention do you, Brighty?

    I fiddled with my hands in my lap. She looked at me as she licked her fingers.

    I do. It just seemed like a rude question.

    Well, are they?

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    I guess. I didnt feel like talking about my parents. I hardly saw them anyway. I

    would much rather spend time wandering around on my own.

    See that wasnt so bad, was it?

    I changed the subject.

    Do you want to go back down to the lake? Or we could go to our cabin and I

    could get my bathing clothes and we could swim. I thought I sounded a little too eager

    to please her. Really, I was desperate to find someone to hang out with. I hadnt noticed

    many other kids around the lake yet.

    Nah. I gotta get home before the bugs come out.

    Do you live far? I asked her.

    I live in Happy Pines. Its the trailer park a little ways from where you are. Its

    right by the tracks. Do you wanna meet tomorrow and swim or something?

    I did. I do. What time?

    She sighed. Oh, I dont know. Lets say noonish, okay, Brighty?

    I told her it was fine and I watched as she walked down the road in her red suit on

    her toes so as not to be burned too much by the asphalt. Shed told me earlier that she had

    once read a book about a donkey in the Grand Canyon named Brighty and she found it

    very amusing to call me by this name. I didnt care. I liked the way she said my name.

    I had gathered a chair and two towels and had been waiting for nearly half-past

    when Sera ambled over. The second time I saw her, she was dragging a small boy with

    dark hair and eyes along with her. There was a large orange bag on her shoulder.

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    This is Dante. Hes four. She said when she stepped onto the dock. I waved at

    him and smiled. He hid behind her.

    Whos that boy, Sera? He asked. His voice was high pitched. He had some sort

    of red stain above his top lip.

    This is Brighton whos British.

    That almost rhymes. Said the little boy peeking from behind her.

    I asked if they were ready to swim. Dante was in swim shorts but Sera had a shirt

    and shorts on.

    I am, but I gotta keep an eye out for squirt here, so we cant swim out too far.

    Sera said.

    I watched as she set down her orange bag and pulled her shirt over her head. Her

    top was green like the ivy along the side of our house at home. I had to look away as she

    took her shorts off for fear of my face reddening again.

    The day was warm, like the one before and there was a little cloud cover so it

    didnt seem as bright outside. Sera held Dantes and my hands as we jumped into the

    lake. The water was cold and it felt nice to be enveloped in the murky liquid. It was like

    being punched, but in a good way. Your gut feels instantly like ice, but the hotness of the

    day gets wiped away in a second. The first jump is always the best.

    We spent about an hour in the Wesserunsett. After Dante decided that he was

    tired of swimming, Sera and I helped hoist him onto the dock. He spread out a towel and

    took a nap. Sera and I held onto the planks of the dock and floated for a while, until we

    felt pruny enough ourselves to lie out in the partially covered sun.

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    Her hair was pretty long, and she had tied it back while we were in the water, but

    she pulled it down to dry, as we lay on the towels side by side by side by side. I was so

    pale, I was sure I would burn, but I didnt want to leave her side. She was fascinating to

    me. Like watching a cat stalk around a living room.

    If you have a fear of dying, why where you lying face-down in the water

    yesterday? I asked her.

    She didnt answer for a minute or so.

    She propped herself up on her arm and she lay on her side and looked at me. She

    showed me her left wrist. It had a series of scars in different lengths along the bend of her

    arm and hand. I touched the raised skin carefully.

    Did you do this? I asked her.

    Yes.

    Why?

    Im afraid of my death being left in the hands of fate or something. I want to be

    the cause of my own death. I dont want it to sneak up on me. Its not fair that way. If I

    do it myself, theres not so much fear of dying, cause Ill know when it will happen.

    It sounded like a logical reason, even though I didnt agree with her idea. I didnt

    think she should die. I told her this.

    Brighty, it happens to everybody. But, thats sweet.

    She leaned over and kissed my cheek. Her lips were soft. I felt my face redden

    and she smiled at me.

    Sera?

    Dantes voice interrupted our moment. How disappointing.

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    I wan go home. My back hurts. He rubbed his nose, which was reddening.

    She sat up. The little boy had the patterns of the towel imprinted on his face.

    Oh, Dante, did you put the sunblock on like I told you?

    He nodded his head, solemnly.

    Are you lying?

    Dantes head didnt stop nodding. She frowned.

    Okay, we gotta get you home then.

    I was disappointed that they were leaving but also a little relieved because I could

    feel heat starting to radiate from my own back. We gathered up the towels and she piled

    hers into the orange bag and I rolled mine as small as I could and tucked them under my

    arm like I do with my books at school.

    Brighton, Ill see ya later. She said as she and Dante started to walk up the trail

    from the lake. Then she stopped. Theyre having a cookout across the lake, around

    seven, I think. All the families on the lake are invited. Itll be good. Free food and

    sometimes theres even live music. Well, just a bunch of guys playing guitars. You

    should tell your parents.

    Ill do that. I waved at Dante who halfheartedly returned it. I watched them

    march down the lake trail as Sera smeared sunblock onto the childs back, although it

    seemed a little too late.

    I saw Sera that evening at the cookout. My parents thought that it would be a

    good opportunity to meet some of the people that lived around or were visiting the lake.

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    Sera found me first. I was standing beside my mum as she and some other ladies talked

    about pottery. The conversation seemed boring, but I was trying to look polite and

    interested. My back was a little sunburned, but I didnt mind because I never get out in

    the sun that much at home. Sera came up behind me and put her hands over my eyes.

    Guess who. She whispered in my ear. I got a chill and shook her off me.

    Her hair was down and loose and she wore torn jeans and a white tee shirt with

    what looked like a spot of mustard near the bottom hem.

    Hey Sera.

    Hey yourself. Did you get food yet?

    I shook my head. I was very hungry.

    Me neither.

    Umm, where do I go?

    She grabbed my arm and she took me over to a table set with hamburgers and hot-

    dogs and potato crisps. There was some sort of cold salad made of peas and cream, but I

    had a bad experience with mushy peas in London once, and Ive never eaten the hateful

    green orbs since. We piled our plates with a burger and hot dog apiece and got colas to

    drink.

    All of the adults had taken the available lawn chairs so we walked down to the

    dock and set our plates down and ate. The night was warm, with a cool breeze and lots of

    stars. There were some mosquitoes but the party hosts had lit citronella candles on stakes

    and placed them about the yard, so they werent too bothersome. My feet hung over the

    docks side and I kicked at the wooden post beneath us with my foot. Sera had her feet

    folded under her and she hummed as she ate.

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    When the food was gone, we watched the lights in the camps across the lake go

    on and off. She told me about the time her brother, Lennon, dared her to walk into a local

    church and sit in the aisle for a minute. Sera said that she did pretty well until a pastor

    came over and she fell to the floor in a fit of hysterics. I secretly wished that I could see

    what hysterics looked like. I didnt know anybody that did that.

    Why are you afraid of religious things? I asked Sera.

    I dont know. Ive just been that way. My mom said that when I was a baby and

    they still went to church, I wouldnt be quiet. She said that Id scream and fuss until the

    moment I was out of the church, then I would be fine. But, I think it was a mix of the

    empty church and all of the stuff in it that caused me to freak out the last time. When

    Lennon dared me. Thats pretty weird, huh?

    Yes. I agreed.

    We sat quietly for a while and an owl of some sort announced its presence nearby.

    I decided to lay my self down on the cool dock planks. Other than the occasional

    mosquito, it was a perfect evening.

    Brighton? I heard her voice.

    Hmmm?

    Have you everyou knowkissed a girl before.

    I was too scared to answer. Id never discussed that sort of thing with a girl

    before. But I hadnt. I wasnt the type that most of the girls my age liked.

    I mean like a real kiss, a mouth kiss?

    No. I answered. My voice sound cracked, like it didnt belong to me. I was sure

    she would laugh at me.

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    Would you like to kiss me?

    I sat up and looked at her. She was looking at her hands. I was scared to death, but

    I was going to try.

    I tilted her head, like the way Hugh Grant does in the movies, and tried to kiss

    her. Our heads bumped. She smiled.

    I tried again. Success! Her lips were taunt at first but then she kissed me back. My

    head spun in a million different directions and broke apart, dancing across the moonlit

    water. My face didnt feel warm. When I stopped she opened her eyes and smiled at me.

    She kissed me like she had done this before.

    I like you Brighty. Even if you are pale and blonde and thin and British.

    I thanked her. She held my hand. We made plans to meet again for swimming the

    next day and she said that she would try not to get stuck with watching Dante. I had

    hoped she wouldnt.

    The next two days were full of rain and it reminded me of how London was

    sometimes, cool and grey and a little foggy. I stayed indoors and read a book and when I

    finished that, I watched the movie my father had rented. I wished that Sera could have

    visited me, but I was sure we would meet up the following day. I really enjoyed all of our

    most recent time together.

    When I did see her again, we trolled about her trailer park and she told me all of

    the gossip that she knew about her neighbors.

    You see that small green one?

    Yes.

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    Thats Mrs. Bint. She had seven cats in there with her until this other guy, some

    jerk a few trailers down, set out poisoned food and killed three of them.

    Thats terrible.

    Yeah, well. Shes mean anyway.

    That doesnt excuse him from killing her pets.

    She sighed, exasperated. Oh, Brighty. You dont have to be so nice all the time.

    Some people just get whats coming to them.

    I supposed so. What I liked most about Sera was that she thought that I was

    important enough to know these little intimate details about her life. Like how she always

    hums one song in particular when she eats. Eleanor Rigby. And that she once stole

    another girls boyfriend but didnt like him because he was a sloppy kisser, so she let the

    girl have him back. She told me that she wasnt usually so outgoing with new people and

    that there were only two people in her entire school that she called friends.

    We watched old reruns ofI Love Lucy on her TV with no color together until it

    was time for me to go home for dinner. I kicked a beer can across the lot when I left.

    Up to that last weekend, Sera and I had spent four days swimming and sunbathing

    and we even took the canoe out into the lake. The canoe was fun because we could float

    with the current and I read to her from a book of Blakes poetry as she stretched out in

    the bottom of the canoe and had her head in my lap. My arms hurt later from rowing, but

    I pretended that it didnt bother me. Sera had kissed me twice that day, but no serious

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    snogging, which was a little disappointing. We stayed together until it began to get dusky

    outside. She had never heard Blake before.

    Brighty? She questioned, raising her head from my lap.

    Yes? I had been thumbing through the pages for another poem to read her.

    You know what we havent done in a while?

    What is that? I said this without looking up.

    Ice cream. She said simply. We havent eaten ice cream.

    I didnt tell her that my mum had brought some from a grocery the day before and

    I had eaten some after supper the last night.

    That does sound good. But, Ill have to go ask my father for some spending

    money. I dont have any left.

    I figured that he would probably say no. He began disliking Sera after the

    cookout. He didnt like the way Seras father had gotten drunk at the gathering. They got

    into an argument about the difference between politics in Britain and in the States. My

    father was insulted by his conduct and language and told him to bugger off and Seras

    dad had tried to start swinging his fists. Our mums broke them up and I had to go back to

    our cabin soon after. Sera was crying when I left her.

    The next time I saw her she had fresh bandages on her wrists. She told me that she

    was sorry for her dads behavior and took her anger out on herself. I told her that she

    didnt have to hurt herself like that and she said that she didnt know any other way to

    deal. Sometimes she just got tired of living. It made me sad to see her in pain.

    You dont have to do that. I think Ive got some change in my beachbag. She

    said.

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    Okay then. I agreed and begin rowing the canoe back towards our cabins dock.

    The way back was harder because my arms already hurt. The wind had shifted and even

    the lake was chopping water against the boat in the opposite direction that I wanted to go.

    I thought I would surely die before we reached the dock. When we pulled up alongside

    the dock, into the shallow water, Sera jumped out into the water and helped me to drag it

    onshore.

    I bundled her towel around her and held her for a moment while she dried a bit.

    She had her red bathing suit on. The same one she wore the first time I saw her. After she

    was sufficed, she stuffed her towel into her beach bag and I grabbed our sandals from the

    cabins back porch. She slid her shorts on, and we crossed the backyard. My mum weakly

    waved to us from the kitchen. She was cutting potatoes for supper later. We waved back

    and we made our way up the dirt of Millers Way towards the main road. She held my

    hand for a while then let go and began to skip ahead, humming loudly.

    Wait for me! I called to her as I leaned down to slap a mosquito that was biting

    my leg.

    She stopped on the side of the road and reached into the pocket of her shorts. I

    finished scratching and just looked up as she withdrew the change and began to count the

    money. Her head was down and she didnt even see it.

    It was red, like her bikini, and I heard a whump and the sounds of her change as it

    flew into the air and fell in showers of tinkling silver and bronze onto the hot asphalt.

    Tires screeched as the truck slid to a stop and it sounded like a screaming cat. I wanted to,

    but could not speak or scream. I couldnt make a sound. I felt frozen, like I was watching

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    an action movie where the good guys had run the bad guy down and my eyes were taped

    to the screen.

    I dropped the towel I had been carrying on the path, and ran as fast as I could will

    myself to go. The driver of the truck had gotten out and was stammering, shaking his

    head and wringing his hands beside his door. I thought he was a small man at first, but he

    was just a kid! Maybe our age or even younger. He looked at me, desperate, over the

    hood of the truck. His baseball cap was pushed way back over his head.

    Oh my god, I didnt seeI godI looked down for a secondoh man, oh

    god oh shit oh god. Im gonna be in so much trouble!

    I pushed past him and slowed to a walk. Serapha was about fifteen feet in front of

    the grille of the truck. I could see her, tan and red heaped into the road. I looked around to

    the ice cream shoppe across the street as I walked to her. One of the employees was

    coming towards me and I could hear another one yelling into the phone. The air was

    silent. The truck driver had sat down on the ground in front of his truck and began to cry.

    He wrapped his arms around his legs and rocked himself back and forth.

    I kneeled by Sera, ignoring the heat of the asphalt and the tiny rocks imbedding

    themselves into my knees. I thought about turning her over, but I was afraid I would

    move something that shouldnt have been moved. I touched her exposed cheek. I gasped.

    She felt cool. A pool of crimson was gathering around her right cheek. But she breathed.

    Her eyes fluttered. I talked to her.

    Sera, can you hear me? Please open your eyes and let me know that you hear

    meplease Sera, come on.

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    The kid who hi her was still rocking and he stared right past Sera and I, down the

    empty road. I wondered briefly what he was thinking.

    Sera was breathing and I felt relieved. But her breath was raspy; she sounded like

    she was having trouble. I covered her left hand with mine and tried to talk to her some

    more. One of the ice cream shoppe employees came to us and patted my back and said

    Help is on the way, son.

    Theyve called the ambulance, itll be here and you can get help. Hold on Sera,

    help is coming. I tried to reassure her, reassure myself.

    She blinked and opened her eyes.

    Brighty She whimpered. She had teeth missing and she swallowed hard. I

    hoped that she wasnt swallowing blood, or her teeth. I was scared and I began to moan

    and rock like the truck driver, beside her.

    Another employee had rushed over to join the semi-circle around Sera and I; she

    brought some rags. They were small and torn. I continued holding her hand and rocked

    and muttered comforting things, more for myself, than for Serapha until the ambulance

    and police came and they made me let go. I tried to tell them what had happened, but I

    kept stammering. The ice cream employees told the paramedics and the police what they

    saw.

    I stayed beside her as long as I could as they loaded her into the back of the van

    and took her away. I listened to the sirens while I tried vainly to tell the police what had

    taken place. Then the driver of the truck was ushered, a little forcefully, into the back of

    one of the patrol cars, still blubbering like the kid he was. After a while, a tow truck came

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    and moved the red truck off of the road. I wasnt sure why they needed the kids truck

    anyway. It was all over in about an hour.

    When they had all drove away, one of the ice cream people put their arm around

    my shoulder and asked if I was okay. I nodded. He asked if I needed to call anyone. Who

    could I call? I shook my head and walked back towards the trail to the lake.

    I stopped to pick up one of Seraphas fallen pennies that lay on the road, glinting.

    It was head-side up and bore the date of our births. I tucked it into my swim shorts and

    walked to the cabin. My body felt numb and I dont think that I looked up once on the

    way home, although the sunset was about the same shade as the copper penny.

    When I came to the door, my parents had left a note saying that they had taken the

    canoe across the lake to visit some neighbors. I climbed the stairs up to my room and sat

    on the bed. I remained there for some time. I stared at a small spot of blood on my

    swimmers. It reminded me of the first ice cream trip we had shared. I sat on my bed for

    hours. I only came down later when my parents had returned. I stood on the bottom stair

    and told them what happened to Sera and my Mum gasped and covered her mouth with

    her hand. My father called over to the people across the lake that had had the cookout to

    get the Peytons number. Nobody answered. He tried calling three times.

    I didnt hear anything about Sera that night, and I did not sleep. I kept hoping that

    the phone would ring and it would be her at the hospital and she would tell me that she

    was okay and would want to meet me for a swim the next day. I spent the next morning

    hovering around the kitchen. My body growled with hunger, but I did not eat.

    I had been sitting on the couch attempting to re-read a novel when there was a

    knock at the back porch door. I threw the book down and rushed to the door and peered

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    through the tiny window. I opened it and there stood Dante, holding the hand of a young

    man with the same dark hair of him and his sister.

    Dante. I said simply. I looked desperately at the older boy.

    Is this the boy, Dante? Asked the young man that I assumed was Lennon.

    Yup. Its that boy, Lennon.

    What happened to Sera? Is she going to be okay? I looked up from Dante to the

    young man, back and forth. The man was silent, looking down at his feet. Dante smiled at

    me.

    Seras okay. Shes an angel now.

    I let the childs words sink in. The young man looked at me, his eyes pleaded.

    Im sorry. Were all sorry. Its so hard to believemy own sister and that

    stupid kid that hit her.. Lennons eyes were red-rimmed. He sniffed and composed

    himself. Theres going to be a service at the Catholic Church on Saturday.You might

    want to come. She had said before this that you were her friend.

    I couldnt say anything. My mouth was frozen. I stared at them for a moment, and

    then I closed the door as they still stood on the porch. I didnt care. I saw Dante jump up

    and wave to me through the little window in the door. Their footsteps echoed as they left

    the porch.

    I just slumped down to the floor and put my face in my hands. I cried. I hadnt

    done that since I was a small child. I felt a tide of sadness and helplessness crash into me

    over and over again. I let the tears flow. I sobbed and moaned. It wasnt fair.

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    My mum came to me and wrapped her arms around me. She was crying too. I

    didnt know if it was for me or Serapha. I hoped it was for Sera. It was the least my

    disapproving parents could do for her. I felt that my own tears would not be enough.

    The last time I saw Sera, it was before her funeral and she was laying in a coffin

    in the local Catholic Church. It had rained that day, and I was sure that the sky was crying

    for her. The coffin looked too big and shiny for its cargo. She was dressed in a white

    sheath dress. Her hair was dark, and shiny, and her face and arms were still dark and

    tanned. Her hands were folded across her chest. It was almost as if she was sleeping and

    had faked the whole experience, maybe to help suffice her need to decide when her own

    death would take place. I stupidly hoped that she would sit up like the first day I met her

    and laugh because I believed her to really be dead.

    Her family sat in the first two rows, but there were not a lot of people at her

    funeral, maybe twenty or so. They sat near the coffin and it made the church seem like it

    had an enormous amount of space for the small town of Skowhegan. My parents came

    with me. I wore a black suit that I had went and bought especially for this occasion.

    I had never been to a Catholic church or a funeral before. I had never even had a

    pet that died. The preacher read some scripture and said some Latin prayers and after he

    concluded, some of the attendees took turns going onto the raised platform to talk about

    Sera. Others lit candles. I thought about how Sera would have probably gone into

    hysterics over the near-empty hall and all of the religious objects surrounding her because

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    of her phobias. I almost laughed thinking about her going into hysterics, but I quickly

    stopped myself.

    The man who had the cookout a few weeks previously, played a sad song on his

    guitar. I didnt recognize the words or the melody, but it sounded beautiful. Im sure Sera

    would have liked it very much. Dante got onto the stage and told everyone that he was

    happy that Sera was going to be an angel and in heaven and he said that he was hungry

    and ready to eat.

    Seras mum and dad talked about her being a sweet, outgoing girl that did well in

    school and was helpful around the house. Her mum couldnt finish the speech she had

    began. They both were crying freely.

    Lennon read a part of one of John Dunnes sonnets called Death Be Not Proud.

    It was fairly deep but the last line of the poem is strong and sad and beautiful, and I

    thought it applied well to the personality of Serapha.

    I considered the possibility of going onto the stage and talking about my two

    weeks experience with Serapha, but I thought better of it. The people who spoke knew

    her for her entire life. They lived with her and went to school with her. I didnt feel like I

    could do her any justice by talking about the conversations we had or the ice cream we

    ate. I didnt think I would actually be allowed to stand on the stage anyway.

    After the service concluded, her parents went around the room and greeted the

    guests. I left my parents where they sat and walked up the middle aisle to the casket.

    When I arrived, I stood looking into her face for a long time. I had never seen a dead

    body before that day and I thought that she still looked like herself, not painted up like

    some people say happens to those who die

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    . I had written a note to her the night before. I, honestly, could not remember what

    I wrote, but Im sure it was good and right and true. I slipped the letter, enveloped in

    paper the same color as the sky on the day we met, into the casket by her shoulder. I was

    afraid to touch her even though I desperately wanted to. But, I was scared. My Mum

    came to me after a bit and I let her wrap her arm about my shoulders even though I would

    usually be embarrassed by her gesture. It didnt matter to me at that moment.

    We left Maine a few days later. I could not stay any longer and I think that my

    parents were ready to go too. I hadnt left the camp in three days. I hardly ate. Was it fair

    to mourn for someone you barely knew? I wasnt sure. With Sera, I felt like I had known

    her forever. I wonder if she had felt the same way about me.

    On the day that we left Skowhegan, Lennon and Dante came to see us off. They

    helped us to load our suitcases and other belongings into the car and I smiled at sweet,

    little Dante as he waved to me when we drove off. I watched the camp disappear in the

    trees and in the dirt clouds tossed up by our car. It faded into the distance like a memory.

    I would not miss the mosquitoes.

    The car trip home seemed to drag forever and I didnt want to listen to the mix

    tape I had made before we left Fayetteville, although it had some of my favorite songs on

    it. I just kept thinking about Serapha. Sera stretched out next to me on a towel in the sun.

    I thought of our first kiss on the starry night of the cookout. I pictured her in the casket

    with the candles around her. She had looked like an angel that day, in her white dress. I

    hoped that there were no phobias allowed in heaven and that she was happy. I mused

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    over our time together all the way home while I turned the penny with our birth dates in

    my jacket pocket, over and over again. I never went back to Maine again.