Cruel Love

May 13, 2008
By Meghan Smith, Bethlehem, PA

Rain poured down upon my dad’s car as it slowly crawled its way to the graveyard behind the hearse. I stared down at my aching knuckles, covered in gauze and Neosporin. The same thought ran through my head over and over again, ‘this isn’t happening. She’s still alive.’ Fooling myself with my own selfish lies made me feel even worse than before.

I looked up through my veil of shaggy brown hair my eyes meeting my mother’s through the rear view mirror; I quickly looked away and out the fog covered window. I barely ever made eye contact with my mother ever since she passed away. The line of car’s behind our own was at least half a mile long, and I wasn’t the least bit surprised. Everyone loved Vanity, everyone.

Vanity was voted our high school’s sweetheart since she was a freshman. She was in the poetry club, on the tennis team, and debate team. Everyone knew who Vanity was but not many people knew that she was my sister that was, until a week ago.

One week ago today, Vanity Marie Weatherly died from a bullet to the brain put in there by her own lover, her boyfriend Gavin Mitchells and I watched it happen.
~Five months earlier~

“Damn it, Blake! Give me my sunglasses!” Vanity squealed throwing a pillow at me as I danced out of her room, her large bug eyed sunglasses making my vision darker as I ran down the stairs, jumping from the third step to the landing in order to miss stepping on Snickers, our very lazy and very large cat. “BLAKE!”

I started laughing as I walked into the kitchen and placed Vanity’s sunglasses on the table next to the mail just as she ran in ready to tackle me for them. I sat down at the table next to our dad my usual crooked grin sliding across my face, “What? You don’t need to yell, I’m right here.” I bit my lip choking back a laugh as her face became two shades redder than normal.

“Where are my sunglasses? Gavin’s going to be here any minute!” she stamped her foot and I pointed to her glasses that were right in front of her. Her face paled a little, embarrassed that her glasses were right in front of her she looked at our dad. “Dad, Blake is being an annoying pain again!” Vanity frowned sitting at the table across from me as our father put down the paper and looked at me then her and back to me again. He only laughed shaking his head his long grey hair falling in his face. “Dad!” Vanity whined frowning she stood up and walking out of the kitchen.

My dad has always been the most laid back dad on the block. He was a hippie at heart with his long grey hair and beard that you could always find some kind of crumbs in, mostly cheese –it crumbs. “Let’s try to be nice to Vanity today, Blake, she has a date to get ready for he should be here so-...” my dad was caught off guard by the sound of the annoyingly peppy doorbell.

“I’ll get it!” Vanity’s voice rang though the entire house and I’m sure that Gavin even heard it outside. She skipped down the stairs came into the kitchen kissed our dad on the forehead and waved, “Bye, I’ll be back by twelve!” And with that she was gone.
~back to present time~

I kept staring out of the foggy window as the rain pounded on it even after the car stopped and my dad had gotten out bringing the umbrella over to my mom’s side of the car. I knew that once I saw the grave and the headstone that I wouldn’t be able to hold it all together anymore. Tears would cascade down my face and my bleeding knuckles would ache with the feeling of guilt as I sobbed my heart and soul out. The bandages were a silly reminder of that fact that I was to late to save Vanity, to late to save my sister from that monster that now sat somewhere in the state penitentiary awaiting his trial.

The terrible thing about this entire ordeal was the fact that anyone in the town could have stopped the cruel fate of Vanity’s from coming true. We all truthfully saw one of her bruises within the five months she called Gavin her boy friend and we all could of questioned them, but we didn’t. We let Gavin’s charm distract us as he slowly ate away at my sister’s soul and body.

I came back down to reality when my dad tapped on the window and waved me out of the car into the damp darkness of this damn unforgiving world. I stared out the window for another ten seconds picturing Vanity’s smiling face after we went to England last summer. Than I saw her face when her dark secret was revealed and the first of many tears slid down my face as I walked out of the car and the rain drops blended in with my tears.
~Three months earlier~

Stepping over the threshold of my house I heard the yelling right away. Vanity and Gavin had only been dating two months, could they seriously be fighting already? I sighed and dropped my ratty black and green book bag by the stairs along with my hoodie before making my way quickly into the kitchen where Vanity was slamming the phone down. She turned to see who had entered into the kitchen and I froze after seeing her face.

“Vanity…” was all that escaped my mouth before she broke down crying and ran over to me burying her bruised face in my chest. Vanity had a right black eye and a cut over her left eyebrow. I hugged her close, always very protective over my older sister, I kissed the top of her head and held her close as she sobbed. I pulled her away and held her at arms length after a few moments and stared into her multi colored bruised eye and normal one, “What happened, Vanny?” I only ever used her old nickname at times like this.

Each tear that ran down my sister’s face made my heart break more and more. “Don’t get mad, Blake… I swear it was all my fault, but you have to promise not to tell anyone…” she looked up at me and held out her pinky finger. This was the beginning of all the wrong choices I made when it came to what was happening between Vanity and Gavin.

I reached out and linked my right pinky with hers whispering hoarsely, “I promise, now just tell me what happened Vanny…”
~back to present time~

Vanny, Vanny, Vanny. Her nickname ran though my head over and over again as I walked from the car to the open grave. I was in the front of the group of people because I was part of the family, but I’m sure half of the kids there still didn’t know who I was.

I was thankful for the rain now as it wiped away my tears and nobody knew whether I was crying or it was just rain. I refused to stand under and umbrella after my mother asked me to. Vanity had to suffer more then any of us, I could handle some suffering in my life too, even though nothing would ever compare to what she had to go through.

I looked down at my knuckles refusing to look at the grave once we made it to her special space. They ached more every time a tear fell down my face and the one that ached the most was the knuckle above my right pinky where I had to actually get two stitches. The more my knuckles ached the guiltier I felt being here, alive, when Vanity was dead. I hated myself right now and I knew deep down that was the last thing Vanity would want me to feel but God, I couldn’t help it.

I missed my sister so God damn much.

~One month earlier~

Music seeped through the floor boards of Vanity’s room and I could hear the cheerfully annoying noise that the world called the Spice Girls. Vanity and Gavin were together again and I was miserable knowing that, that a**hole had won her over, again.

I gave up on my term paper and pushed by history book away not wanting to deal with anything to do with the Vietnam War, let’s face it. I was just like my dad, a hippie at heart.

I walked towards the stairs to the basement ready to crash in front of the TV and play a little Halo 3, but then the door rang and it was obvious that Vanity didn’t hear it. I sighed and ruffled my hair a little and went to the front door. I grabbed the handle and swung the door open coming face to face with Gavin, of all people.

“Hey Blake,” he nodded his head towards me his eyes not making contact with me as he scratched the back of his neck. “Vanity here by any chance?” he looked around me seeing if she was anywhere by the door.

I stared at him for a few seconds before making my second mistake about Gavin and Vanity’s relationship, “Yeah, she’s upstairs in her room…” I stepped a side and he walked right in not bothering to say anything else to me. I watched as he ran to the stairs and before I knew it he was gone, somewhere upstairs with my sister.

I frowned a little once I heard the music turn off and the yelling begin. I walked into the living room and sat there trying to listen to what they were saying, but it was impossible. Before I knew what was happening Vanity flew down the stairs crying her eyes out she yelled at Gavin to leave. I frowned even more, now getting angry that this a** was hurting my sister again.

I stood up and made my way towards the sound of my sister’s cries bit then I heard Gavin starting to yell back. I wasn’t sure what to do, but somehow I mad one good decision and walked into the kitchen just as Gavin slapped Vanity across the face.

The good decisions kept rolling and as I came up behind Gavin and pulled him away from my sister. “You a**hole, stay the hell away from my little sister!” I would of reached up and punched him, but I didn’t because I saw Vanity there shaking as tears of pain and sorrow ran down her face like rivers.

Gavin only glared at me not saying anything before he looked over at my sister, “I’ll call you later, V.” With that said I moved so I stood in between the two. He glared at me again trying to decide whether or not he should just push me out of the way. He decided to leave and I followed him, locking the door behind him, I sighed leaning against it as I heard Gavin drive away. Vanity walked up to me and kissed me on the cheek, her own cheek starting to redden from the slap across her face. “Thanks Blake… thanks for always being there for me,” she smiled slightly before wincing in pain and running up the stairs to cover her own battle wounds.
~back to present time~

Standing by the grave in my uncomfortable shoes, that I’m sure were three sizes to small, was the hardest thing I ever had to do in life. I concentrated on blocking out all the noise and I focused on the muddy earth in between my shoes.

I couldn’t bare to look up and let my eyes focus on the casket. It’d all be way to real to see the casket being lowered into the eight foot grave and that’s the last thing I could deal with. This was the final chapter of my time with my older sister and I never wanted it to end, and as soon as the casket went down… I knew it would all end.
~One week earlier~
~Vanity’s last day~

Today was the worst day of my month so far. I woke up late, was late to school and almost caused Vanity to be too. Failed two tests and forgot my money for lunch at my house. Now I was walking the three miles from the school to my house because I missed the bus. I would have called Vanity to come and get me, but she was busy preparing for her role as the Valentine’s Day sweetheart.

I sighed turning on to our street and I froze. Gavin’s truck was in our driveway and our front door was slightly ajar. Vanity had broken up with Gavin again after her slapped her in front of me. I shook my head wandering what the hell was going on.

I walked into the house and right into the kitchen the sun light reflecting off of the shiny yellow tile blinded me for a moment but I was able to see soon again. The first thing I saw was the gun pointed at my sister’s head, and the last thing I heard was the sound of the gun going off and Vanity’s lifeless body hitting the happy and shiny new sunshine yellow tile.

After watching my sister fall I heard nothing else as I dropped my book bag and threw myself at Gavin knocking the gun out of his hands as my fists landed over and over again against his stupid ugly face. I saw the blood appearing but wasn’t sure if it was mine or his.

By the time the police arrived Gavin had flipped me over and now had the gun in his hand again ready to shoot me too, but he dropped once our front door was knocked down and the four police men and women enter out kitchen, four different guns pointed at his head now. Karma sure is b****, isn’t it?
~back to the present time~

Finally the graveside ceremony was over and we were allowed to leave, but no. The priest was handing out blessed roses for Vanity’s family to put on the casket, including me.

So, for the first time I looked up and my eyes landed on the casket and I couldn’t breathe or move, and that’s when I broke down. I fell to my knees and dropped the rose in the mud, crying my eyes out I covered my face with my hands not wanting to be anymore embarrassed then I already was. Vanity was dead… my sister, my best friend, was dead. Life just isn’t fair.

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