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I had gone to Cod Town in the beginning of the summer with Maddy, my youngest sister. I hadn’t been there in two years and I hadn’t been planning to go this year until my older sister Tracy died. Then life went crazy for our family. Dad and Mom started to fight over the stupidest things like where the television remote was or if I was allowed to take Maddy to the store with me. During those emotional arguments, Maddy and I got closer. The electricity and water would go out; Dad having forgotten to pay the bill again. After dealing with that all year, both Maddy and I needed a vacation from this hectic life. When Nana and Papa offered for us to come with them for the summer, Maddy and I jumped at the chance. Anything was better than what we were dealing with then.
Tracy was the perfect older sister. She was smart, pretty, popular, a cheerleader even. She was the cookie cutter image of what an older sister and daughter should be. I loved her for that; her normalness, the same way I despised myself for my oddness. Her name was even more normal than mine. Evelyn. It wasn’t my fault it was so weird and old-fashioned.
It was our family’s tradition to name one daughter a name that started with an -E. it went back to my great-great grandmother Eve. Then her daughter Elizabeth, then Ella, Eliza (my grandmother), then my mother Eleanor, and finally me, Evelyn.
When my mother had Tracy, she knew she would have another girl. Nana thought she was being silly but then she had me, and then Maddy. After that, Nana trusted her when it came to her daughters. And Mom was always right
But then Tracy died and Mom went into a crazy depression. Nana stayed with us for a while but then Papa called her and begged her to come back. She had to chose between her depressed daughter or her sickly husband. We didn’t blame her for leaving but she felt bad.
I was mad at Tracy for dying. If only she had stayed home and baby-sat Maddy so I could have gone over to my friend’s house. She got into a fight with Mom over it. Then she left without an apology. Mom had been so mad she’d refused to talk to anybody. Then, as she was driving home with Dad from their dinner, she got a phone call from the police. Tracy had been shot.
I remember my mother bursting through the door crying and screaming. I was in the living room watching TV when they got home. Later we learned the full extent of the shooting but than all that mattered was Tracy.
I remember the funeral very well. The day was cold and cloudy, threatening rain. It was a mass funeral; all seven victims that were killed at the party were being buried together. My parents were not talking and hadn’t been since their big fight the night Tracy died. My father had become a grim silent statue, my mother a noisy pile of tears. We rode there in silence so deep that I wanted to scream just to break it. I only had one question, What do you say while you’re on your way to your sister’s funeral? I had no idea what the answer was.
At least I knew I wouldn’t be alone at the cemetery. Two other freshmen girls would be at the funeral. One was one of my friends, Nicole Taylor, who had lost her brother Sam. He and Tracy had been going out: in fact the party was their first date.
The other freshmen girl was Carly Lockwood. I didn’t know her well; I’d only seen her a few times from a distance. We did have a few classes together but we never talked. She was popular and always surrounded by people. And even if I had had the chance to talk to her, I wouldn’t know what to say. There probably weren’t any two more different people than Carly and me. She was rich and I, well I wasn’t poor but I wasn’t rich enough to hang out with Carly and her friends. She was outgoing and spunky, while I was shy. I was a caterpillar entrapping itself in its cocoon while she was a beautiful social butterfly.
Really, she was beautiful. She had flawless porcelain white skin and curly red hair that actually behaved. She had a dazzling smile and eyes like emeralds. Her shape was the envy of all the females at school, regardless of age.
I was the exact opposite. I had hair the color of an oil sick and eyes the shade of an odd greenish-blue color. I wasn’t fat but I definitely wasn’t like Carly-skinny. We were too different to be friends, too different even to talk.
As we pulled into the parking lot of the cemetery my mother let out a whimper before the floodgate of tears tore open. I had long given up trying to comfort her. All she wanted was Tracy and I couldn’t give that to her. Instead I just got out of the car and walked over to Maddy’s side of the car. If my parents were one more ounce normal, they would have been worried about us. We hadn’t cried once in front of them. After we found out about Tracy, we couldn’t cry. We were still in shock it wasn’t until later that night that Maddy had snuck into my room and together we held each other and sobbed.
I took Maddy’s hand as we walked toward the burial site. I had survived the mass without crying but it had been a bitter fight. I wouldn’t be able to stay strong for the entire burial. But I had to be strong. For mom, for dad, for Maddy, and for me. And for Tracy.
Behind me, Nicolle was comforting her mother. She saw me looking at her and she patted her mother’s sobbing shoulder before she walked up to me and gave me a hug. I knew we both had to be strong for our families. I wrapped my arm around her shoulder and Maddy, her, and I walked on.
Of course I cried. The priest made us all cry. There wasn’t a dry eye there. The media was there, as expected, but no one paid any attention to them. Nicolle sat with her mother because all they had was each other. Her father died when she was three and now Sam was gone. He and Tracy were buried next to each other and both of our families had twin hearts engraved on their gravestones. Tracy’s best friend Janine said some words at being at that fatal party. At the end, with tears streaming down her face, she turned to Nicole’s and my families and said, “Mrs. Baker, your daughter was my best friend and I loved her like a sister. Mrs. Belle, Sam was one of the best boys, excuse me, men I knew. I want you to know that neither of your children died alone or unhappy. They were linked when those two…”-her voice faded as the tears overtook her but she started again-”those two fatal shots tore them from us. Just remember that they are happy together in heaven.”
The priest finished the burial and we all got up to leave. My mother was weeping openly with Nicolle’s mother. They were holding each other and sobbing. My father was no where to be found. I didn’t care anymore. Once, I would’ve tried to comfort him. Now I stayed away. He had loved Tracy best and I was not going to give him the satisfaction of seeing me try to get close to him. I knew it was what he wanted. Next to me Maddy was sobbing into the shoulder of her long-time best friend, Luke Mallory. He was holding her tight. I was alone. Slowly that sunk in and then the tears came. I wasn’t noisy like Maddy or my mother. They just flowed silently. I kept staring at Tracy’s headstone. Why did she have to go? Why didn’t she and Sam go somewhere else? Why did they have to be exactly where they were? What was Tracy thinking right at the moment she left the earth? I wouldn’t find the answer out until I was dead with her. And that would not be for a while, I hoped.
Suddenly a camera flash distracted me from my thoughts. I turned to look in the direction of the flash and saw a short stocky man with dirty hair and a scarred face. He was holding a camera in front of him and when he saw me looking at him, he met my eyes. I stared at him and he met my gaze warily. Finally he looked back and whispered something to a blonde lady next to him. She looked at me and walked over.
“I am so sorry for your loss. Was this your sister?” She pointed to Tracy’s grave and I felt tears come to my eyes. I could barely choke any words out. “Yes, she was.”
The blonde lady didn’t hear the giant lump in my throat or see the tears in my eyes. “My name is May Stuart and I work with the local news channel. I was wondering if maybe you’d like to do an actual interview with me about the death of her sister and her friends.”
I looked at her face to see if she was serious. I noticed her skin was too pale and her dark blue eyes were to big and bright ad heavily rimmed with circles. Her black suit didn’t fit right and I noticed there was a small but pronounced bump on her stomach. It took me a minute to realize she was pregnant. I replied. “My names is Evelyn Montgomery. I don’t know what my parents will do but I know I will definitely be willing to participate. I have to talk to them first though.”
May Stuart was smiling hugely. I glared at her but she didn’t see. She was too busy searching through her pockets. Finally she produced a rectangular piece of paper. On it was listed her name and her number. She handed it to me. “Thank you so much, Evelyn. Please tell me the exact moment when your parents decide. And I’m sorry about your loss of your sister Tracy. I know she would have been a very talented and special woman.”
I kept staring at Tracy’s headstone. “She already was one.”
May and her photographer said their good-byes and left. Once they were gone Nicolle came up to me. “What was that about?”
I turned to look at her. Her big brown eyes were worried and she had major circles under her eyes. “They were just asking me for an interview about Tracy and the other people who died.”