Semi-finalist #13

Name: Jenny Kaczorowski

Emma hadn’t slept in three days. Every time she closed her eyes, she saw the river again. Saw her again.

She shuddered and forced herself to watch the mourners gathering around the grave at the base of the hill. The black-clad figures clung to one another, finding comfort in knowing they didn’t mourn alone. Comfort Emma couldn’t share. Even from where she stood at the crest of the cemetery, their shock and grief and anger pounded against her.

The wind shaped Emma’s dark hair into softly waving tendrils and she brushed them away from her face with the back of her hand. She shifted her feet and the frozen dew clinging to the grass crackled under her.

Emma knew she should join the other mourners. She knew they expected her to share in their public display of sorrow.

But she couldn’t.

The slightest touch, the slightest betrayal of emotion and she would lose everything. Even a hug, meant to console, could send her spiraling out of control.

She remained frozen, a silent witness to their grief. She saw everything in stunning clarity, the delirium of her sleepless nights drawing details into sharp focus. The lurid green of the carpet covering the hole in the ground and the cold, dead coffin that held her best friend. The sky, the same colorless grey as her eyes, burned in her mind. Overwhelming sorrow surrounded her, but she refused to absorb any of it.

Her silence, more than tears or anger, terrified her parents.

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