Birds sang in the trees, flitting back and forth between branches. The sky was blue and the air crisp, with only a faint breeze. The leaves were orange and gold, picturesque and beautiful in a way that drove hordes of tourists up to Maine every year to take pictures. It was the perfect autumn day, and Sabrina DeSilver hated it.
She would have preferred thunder and lightning and driving rain. They would have fit her mood better, although she doubted anyone else would have agreed with her. No one wanted to be outside in the rain, and the preacher was taking his sweet time.
What was there to say, really? Danny was a good person, the best, but God didn't care and now she was dead. It was as simple as that.
The preacher shut his book after what seemed like several hours, stepping back and bowing his head. The first bunch of flowers was placed on the grave, by a classmate of Danny's Sabrina vaguely recognized. She was a tall blond girl, and her black dress didn't suit her. Neither did the somber look on her face. As little as she cared for her classmates, Sabrina remembered that the blond girl always seemed to be smiling.
Like Danny. Danny had always been a very happy person. Oh, she'd had her moments, but she believed in living life to the fullest. That had been what drew Sabrina to her in the first place. Faced with a view on life so alien, she hadn't had any choice but to investigate. And then she'd gotten sucked up into Danny's world and before she knew it they were best friends.
Sabrina waited until everyone else had deposited their flowers on the casket before laying down her own offering. Sunflowers had always been Danny's favorite. Maybe they didn't match the tone of the funeral, but Danny had liked them. That was what mattered.
Sabrina turned her back on the casket, and for a second tears threatened to fall. She drew in a deep breath, holding it until she was certain she wouldn't cry. Mr. and Mrs. Briteman stood together, Mr. Briteman's hand held tightly by his wife.
Tears were pouring from her eyes, mascara and eyeliner tracing lines down her face. "I just can't believe I'll have to keep going on with life without her," Christina Briteman said miserably, as the last few people wandered out through the cemetery gate.
Sabrina had to blink again to hold back her own tears. She reached out and enveloped Christina in a hug, letting it say what she could never find the words to. Ryan Briteman wrapped his arms around them both, squeezing tightly.
"I should go," Sabrina said quietly. "So that you can… say goodbye. By yourselves."
"Will you be coming to our house afterwards?" Ryan asked.
Sabrina shook her head. "No."
Danny's parents nodded, understanding. She'd never been a very social person. The funeral itself was one thing, but sticking around afterwards? She had no desire to share her grief with a bunch of strangers, most of whom hadn't known Danny half as well as they thought they had.
"Don't be a stranger," Christina told Sabrina. "Just because Danny won't be… around, anymore, doesn't mean you can't come visit. You're practically our second daughter. We'd like to see you."
Sabrina nodded, gave Christina a quick hug goodbye, and left. She'd driven the Porsche, and besides the Briteman's turquoise Subaru it was the only one left in the lot. The contrast was severe- the shiny black Porsche, screaming money and style to everyone who looked at it, and the beat-up old Subaru, several years old and the victim of at least three car accidents.
Sabrina threw her shoes on the passenger seat of the Porsche, not paying attention to whether or not she got dirt on the seats. Her father would probably have a fit- the car was his baby- but she didn't have the energy to care. He wouldn't dare say anything to her today, anyway. Her mother might not have approved of Danny's family, but they knew what Danny meant to her.
Sabrina drove home barefoot, with music blaring out of the speakers and not a single thought for the speed limit. Her shoes were thrown on her bedroom floor, followed quickly by her dress. She replaced them with loose pajama pants and a too-large t-shirt and turned her music up as loud as she could stand. Grabbing the bottle of rum and the short glass she'd brought upstairs with her, Sabrina proceeded to follow her mother's fine example of what to do when you're upset.
Marian DeSilver poked her head in before Sabrina had finished throwing back her first glass. "I knocked," she said, eyeing the iPod- attached to the surround sound speaker system they'd had installed when Sabrina first got it- disapprovingly.
"What do you want?" Sabrina asked flatly, staring up at her ceiling.
"How are you feeling?" Marian asked, putting on a false cheerful smile, as though she thought that would make the question more tolerable.
"How do you think I'm feeling?" Sabrina snapped, grinding her teeth together and wondering what her mother wanted. Marian never came in her room. They had an understanding: Sabrina didn't embarrass her at her little social gatherings, and she didn't bother Sabrina when she was shut up in her room listening to music.
"I think you're feeling like your life is over, and that things won't ever be the same again," Marian said calmly, stepping fully into the room. She didn't even glance at the bottle of rum, sitting conspicuously on the table beside Sabrina's bed. "But that isn't true. You still have your whole life ahead of you, and you need to think about that. The whole world won't stop just because Danny developed cancer. She understood that, which was why she continued to apply for scholarships while in the hospital, and I think that…"
"Is that what this is about?" Sabrina interrupted, disgusted. "College? Jesus, Mother."
"Don't take the Lord's name in vain," Marian snapped, before regaining her calm. "But yes, that is what this is about. Now, you know I never really thought much about your passing over Yale to go to that ridiculous school in Rhode Island…"
"I don't care," Sabrina said, interrupting her again. "I absolutely do not care. Get out of my room. I don't want to talk to you, I don't want to look at you, I don't even want to remember you exist."
"Sabrina, I am still your mother," Marian began.
"Get out!" Sabrina screamed, sitting up and throwing her glass at the door. It exploded less than a foot from her mother's head, and Marian jumped and shrieked. "Get out now!"
"I'm only trying to think about your future!" Marian yelled at her daughter. "I'm only trying to be a good mother!"
"Well you picked a fine time, didn't you?" Sabrina screamed. "You never cared before, so don't kid yourself! You're trying to make me do what you want now that Danny's gone, but you don't get it. I won't ever do what you want, just because it's you who wants it, so get out of my room! I despise you!"
"Fine," Marian said coldly. "But we'll see how you do in college without any money, you ungrateful little bitch!"
"Go ahead," Sabrina snarled. "I'll go to the University of Maine, and we'll see how you like telling all your little friends that your daughter is going to a state school."
Sabrina sneered at her mother, knowing how horrified she would be by the thought. Sure enough, Marian cringed, giving her daughter a poisonous look. "We'll see," she repeated darkly, walking out and closing the door with a snap.
Sabrina fell backwards onto her pillows, completely exhausted. She hadn't been sleeping, haunted by dreams of Danny, and the funeral had only made things worse. Sighing quietly, Sabrina reached for the bottle of rum again. "Might as well get it over with," she said bitterly, tipping it back. It poured down her throat, too quickly to taste it, and she welcomed the oblivion it would bring.
The tears she hadn't been able to shed in the company of others finally came, and she wept brokenly. She cried for the loss of the only person on earth who loved her for who she was; the only one who knew how to cheer her up and who cared enough to try. She cried for the loss of her best friend and the lives they'd planned, right up to being obnoxious old women together.
And she cried because she knew that life would never, ever be the same.