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Still Afraid This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

People came through the gates, their dark dresses and pants dragging on the dead grass. I sat in a metal chair, not bothering to save a seat next to me. Sure enough, everyone avoided me. Even my friends made sure they were four rows away.

I cried, as silently as I could, but people gave me dirty looks. As though I didn't have any right to mourn with them. As though I didn't have any right to be there. Maybe they were right.

I tried not to look in the front of chairs. The coffin was open to the warm summer air. She would have loved this weather. Loved the heat and light. People rose and formed a line, slowly, I joined them.

"How dare she come! It's her fault my daughter is dead!" Her mother's voice rose, clearly meaning me.

"Don't worry Lizard, she's always that wound up." A cold hand took mine, and I squeezed it lightly, knowing if I held it too hard it would disappear. She laughed playfully and kissed my cheek. "Look at the beautiful weather!"

I nodded and before I would have liked it, I was at her coffin.

"Was it worth it, Kat?" I whispered softly. She was silent. I turned my head slightly and saw her looking afraid at her own body.

"They...they're going to bury me?" Kat whispered, to afraid to bring up her cool girl attitude. I wish I could hug her. Bring her close and lie. Say no. Say it wasn't her. Say they're weren't going to put her in the dark ground.

I nodded. She whimpered. I knew how much she hated the dark. She still slept with a nightlight on and her dog next to her.

"I'm so sorry, Kat." I held her hand, darning to squeeze tighter, knowing that it would only go away. Just like she did.





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