This won second place in the 2003 Amy Charles Creative Writing Competition,
a contest sponsored by the NC English Teachers' Association
Katrina Hayes ©2003
Why Kaitlyn? I wondered. Kaitlyn had always been the strong one, and it was to her that Tiffany and I always ran after the latest break in the family.
I placed the bouquet of daisies and wildflowers that I had gathered from the meadow beside the coffin. I knew she would understand why. Although she had also been the one who had given up believing in God. Or was it just that she had gotten past anything like that? I couldn't really understand her, never really tried to. Or needed to.
But why Kaitlyn? I guess it was fairly obvious. She was the only one who had yet to be broken by them. They had to break her by any means possible, and with seventeen years, if nothing else had worked, there was only one solution.
She wouldn't want to be buried. She would be so trapped...
Everything swirled around in my head as the priest said the "Last Rites" and other people got up and spoke about what a great person she'd been. None of them really knew her. A couple people from her school got up to talk about everything she'd done for everyone over the years. They would never understand half of what she had done for anybody. My parents got up to talk about what a great daughter had been. All they'd ever done was scream at her and beat her into submission while she fought to hold back her own screams, fight back the tears that blurred her vision. The same tears that Tiffany and I fought against constantly and lost. She held hers in, and helped us wipe away ours. That was why they had to get rid of her. Officially, her death was caused by a car accident. I knew that couldn't be the whole story. But no one would tell me anything else. Ours was a family that, when not screaming, was profoundly silent. Kaitlyn wouldn't want to be buried. She needed to be cremated, with her ashes left to dance on the wind. She had lived in this godforsaken place all of her life. She didn't need to stay any longer. All these "mourners" had no right to be here. I slipped my hand into my mother's purse. She always carried a lighter, and that habit had not been altered with her entrance into a church, even for her daughter's funeral. But then, her daughter was just an object, like her cigarettes, whose sole purpose in her life was to have anger vented upon it. More respects would be paid her by freeing her than by slinging all these meaningless words around and then trapping her even more permanently than she had been with us. The earth would understand that its prize had been bequeathed instead to fire and wind. I twisted the small metal circle, and touched it to the carpet runner beside the hard pew. None of us needed to stay any longer.