SECOND CHAPTER

PAIN

How could the weather be so incredibly hot and bright? How could the sun smile so happy and careless? How could the sky be so clear and azure? How it couldn't cry? Why the whole nature seemed so calm, like nothing has happened? Like it wasn't the day of the funeral of the most special person in the world? It seems like an ordinary day, but it was not, couldn't the world see that? Was everyone blind or what? These thoughts were spinning through the mind of the girl dressed in black standing in front of a brand new grave with other mourning people. Alana Music was disgusted by all this and wanted to scream that this wasn't fair. Such a big masquerade and pretending even in that day! She was feeling sick, like she had betrayed him. He didn't deserve that terrible burial interment. The only thought of him buried in the cold ground, in a coffin, his body slowly decaying and eaten by the worms was freezing her. Joel wouldn't want that, she was sure about this. But who could argue with the family? Even his sister was treated like a child who doesn't understand anything and can't know a bit about the deceased's wishes. He had always hated closed spaces, anyone who knows him well would be aware of that. If he had choice what to be done wit his mortal remains his decision would be cremation. And then the ashes to be scattered in the sea, or at the graveyard or to be kept by his friends. They could never knew what exactly because they had never discussed that. Who can expect his death at the age of sixteen? Alana refused to accept the fact that it had been meant to be. For her it was another example of the cruelty of life. She felt so completely miserable and despaired that it was wonder she managed to stay still and calm. The tears in her eyes were welling up and colliding in the cold wall the girl was showing, softly moistening the corners. She shouldn't have cried, she had no right to cry in front of so many people. "Later. When everybody is gone and I'm sure I'm alone." Alana smoothed her crimson hair and took a breath wondering how long was going to prolong this demonstration of grief. It seemed that the priest would never end talking. Everything was so false. "Stop repeating this! I understood it! Will you stop pitying yourself?" The annoyed inner voice hissed in her ear. "Would you mind stop tormenting me even now? That's my boyfriend's fucking funeral and I've got all rights to be upset as long as I want, so, please, hold your tongue at least for a minute!" "Ok, Ok, hey, relax!" She glanced at the girl standing near her. The only attending person who was crying with real tears. Alana wrapped her arm tightly around Irene's shoulders. The sobbing were forgiven to the sister of the dead, the only relative who had ever cared for him. Despite the fact that she had known him for less than a year, they had communicated mainly with letters she grew to respect and admire him, the bigger brother she had always wanted to have. Vince was by Alana's left side and Chris and Keith were close to Irene. No one of them was talking neither whispering because everyone was too drawn in the sorrow and they owed silence to Joel. The boys were doing the same as Alana - trying to be strong and brave. But in fact their souls were full of incurable pain, the most severe and cutting, fiery pain they had ever felt. And something else - fear and despair. Fear for the future, for what was going to happen tomorrow. They didn't know Joel for longer than Irene but, hey, does the time mean something when you meet a soul mate? The boy was that for everyone in the group. There was something really special about him: not the strange appearance and clothes, they looked in familiar way, not the hair and the color of the eyes. It was not visible to the naked eye, unique and irresistible emanation. Spirit, fire, energy, stars in the look, determination were the words that describe him precisely. Although his life was rotten since its beginning Joel had managed to keep his soul clean of the shit he had been through. His liveliness, passion to the things he loved, the faithfulness towards what he believed in, the understanding. It attracted them as friends immediately. The loss of this incredible person was big and they were not ready to bear it. Nothing would be the same now. Joel was the one who gave life to Cursed Angels. No one could replace him as a friend, as a beloved and as a musician. His death put an end to everything. Finally the endless burial service was over and the coffin started sinking slowly in the ground. Alana didn't know if she was relieved or crushed by this. She was aware that the corpse of the dead inside was Joel's body. Her darling Joel, beautiful Joel, wonderful Joel. Torn apart from her. The girl would never be able to touch, kiss, hear and feel him again. Never. His arms were cold, his blood was cold, his lips were cold and the eyes were closed. Forever. Forever. She kept on repeating the short and painful word that slowly started dissolving in her brain. "When all this nightmare will be over?! I can't stand on this anymore." Her look grew dim with tears but Alana couldn't release them and set the sorrow free. One hand touched her shoulder. Until then she hadn't realized how strong she was shaking and that she had dig nails in her arms. The lass turned to the person and saw Vince who was staring attentively at her. She tried to smile but didn't manage doing something more than wry grimace.

"Are you OK, Ally?" He asked trying to behave like an older protective brother but the tears in his eyes were clear to see. She nodded and wrapped herself tightly and felt a bit cold despite the burning sun.

"You have got the right to cry. It was too much for you to bear. You can't hide it behind a mask. You can go crazy if you don't let it all go."

Alana bit her lips and shook head sadly. The forgetfulness was exactly what she needed. But what could erase such a great pain from your mind, from your heart, from your soul. The time can cure only cure the temporary grief, the simulated tears. The others who are sincere are scarred.

"You are right. It was a heavy blow for everyone. But that's neither the place nor the time. I'll never cry in front of her." She glanced at Leonora Craven Denis, Joel's mother. She was tall, thin and elegant blond about forty years old but looked ten years younger. Her eyes were diamond blue and as cold as ice. The woman was wearing fashionable tight-fitting black dress emphasizing her perfect body and make up. Alana wondered if she had come at her son's funeral just to demonstrate her clothes. Leonora had wrapped her long fingers around her second husband's arm. Craig Denis didn't look more shaken by the tragedy. "How could they be so heartless! Joel is dead, for God's sake! And they behave like they attend a stupid and boring party! I could understand him, but. she is his mother, she had given him life. Does that mean nothing?"

"You know Leonora. She is as cold as snake. I can't say anything in her defense. She had never tried to know him better or to understand him."

"She had never tried to understand anyone just because she doesn't care at all." They heard Irene's voice. The girl had calmed down a bit and was talking with cooler but a bit thick and shaking voice. "She cares only for herself. I'm not ashamed to say that although Leonora is my mother."

"Hey, girls, that bitch - sorry, Irene, - doesn't worth being angry with her. We have got plenty of other torments to add another one." Vince interrupted her landing his hands on their shoulders. "It's all pointless now."

"It's very easy for you to say that." Irene said darkly running hands through her raven-black hair. "You don't have to live with her."

"You'll manage!" The boy smiled. "You have been living with her for more than sixteen years. What are any pitiful twenty-four months compared to this!"

"Thank you for the encouragement."

"Vince." Alana uttered nervously and took his hand. "Can you drive me home? I feel that if I stay in the Ice Queen's presence any longer, I'll faint. I'm sorry, Irene, I know I promised you I will stay after the funeral but I really can't stand straightened anymore. I took too much of all this."

"It's ok, dear!" Irene caressed her pale cheek looking a bit worried. "You don't look well at all. Go and have some rest, in the next few weeks and after that you have to be very strong. I'll cope with Leonora." She stayed silent for a while and then added rubbing the tears from her eyes. "You've been really brave today. I don't know how you didn't burst out."

"Ok, Alana, shall we go?" Vince asked attentively and after her nodding went to say goodbye to the others. Then they both walked away from the crowded people, completely silent and still. He was holding her hand keeping her not to fall. Her steps were getting more and more insecure, her movements seemed dizzy and her look was dim like to a drunk. Thank God, they soon reached the car and she sat at the seat near the driver. Alana relaxed her head on the side window staring at the graveyard that was slowly disappearing from her sight. "Goodbye." She whispered under her breath. "Goodbye, my love. I will see you again. One day." Her thoughts rushed into the future. How her life would be after that day? What would be like her days? Different.

"Hey, are you OK? What's going on with you?" Her friend's voice reached her mind and she realized she had almost fallen asleep. Alana blinked and stretched her neck. She blushed and uttered uneasily.

"I'm sorry, I just."

"There is no need to excuse." He said and his green eyes flashed worried. "Are you sure you want me to come back? Don't you want to talk with someone right now?"

"No, thank you, Vince." Alana smiled and opened the door. " I prefer being on my own. Right now Irene needs more support than she realizes. You have to be near her." "If that's what you want, I'll do that." Her friend bit his lips and caught her hand before she went out. "Listen, Alana, remember you are not alone. We'll always be there for you. If you need us, if you just feel that you have to get some help, just call us, ok?

"I know that. Bye, I'll see you on Monday." Alana replied and went on the pavement. Vince drove away and directed to Denis' family house. Then she sighed and went inside her house.