Their microphones felt invasive as they pressed them into my face, asking me a flurry of questions. “Is it true the plane was the target of a terrorist attack?” shouted one reporter. “Can you tell us what it was like when the plane was going down?” asked another one. “Is there anything you would like to say to the families of the people on board Flight 381, being the only survivor?” came yet another question. I stood there nearly petrified, shielding my face with my hands. “Back off!” screamed a familiar voice. “Do you people not have a heart? My nephew has just been through a traumatic event and lost his parents. He does not need this,” Aunt Lisa scolded them, shoving one of the reporter’s camcorders away from us. We made a dash for the car and backed away as the reporters swarmed in for a closer shot. I honestly hated being the focus of this pack of media jackals. It felt like I didn’t deserve such recognition; after all, it’s not like I was a hero and saved the day! On the car ride home, I rolled down my window and the fresh air circulated through the car, permeating it with a welcoming smell of fresh cut grass and apples. Aunt Lisa lived in apple country, and you can’t go more than a few miles in any direction without seeing orchards. “Thanks for that, back there…” I said. “I’m sure you would have done the same for me.” I could feel the tension building inside the small Ford Taurus as Aunt Lisa skipped through the radio stations; she appeared to be tense, and very fidgety. “Would you like to talk about the…” I said then found myself pausing before I could finish the sentence. “We do need to talk, Davis… we have to decide something crucial.” “And that would be?” I said. I couldn’t help but wonder what could be so important; my mind was whirring in a million directions. Up until now, I’d never given any consideration to what my future had in store for me, once I left the hospital. What she said next tied my stomach in knots. “I really have no experience at being a mom, and this is all so sudden. But I do want you to come live with me. My sis and your father had appointed me your guardian after all.” I huffed, “So you’re stuck with me then, I get it!” “No, no sweetie… I didn’t mean it like that. I’m trying to say this is going to be new for the both of us. You know? Like a new beginning.” I could sense her sadness, though she tried to conceal it as she reasoned with me. But no matter how she tried to make it sound, I knew the truth. This was no new start. It was my only option if I didn’t want to end up living in a foster home. But nothing could change my sad reality. Life as I’d known it had ended forever.
FIVE THE FUNERAL Time was going by so fast, the accident happened a little over a week ago, and here I was still dwelling on the same questions. I innately knew that this type of obsession wasn’t healthy and I should forget it (not my parents) and get on with my life. As Aunt Lisa had told me, it was going to be a new beginning for her and for me. These were my thoughts during the long, lonely days after being released from the hospital. I had to ask myself how was this much different than the hospital? It was the same dull routine, except this was a routine that led nowhere. At least in the hospital, there was the goal of getting out. What was my purpose living out a boring life at Aunt Lisa’s? The only thing I had to look forward to was school in the fall. Any other year I would have been excited about going back to see my friends, but this was the least of my cares at the moment. Aunt Lisa took me shopping to get a suit for the funeral; I was really not looking forward to it. But at the same time, I had hoped that I might feel some sort of closure and be able to get my obsession with what happened under control before I ended up in the loony bin wearing a straightjacket! The days leading up to my parents’ funeral were chaotic, to say the least. I’d been to a couple of funerals before, but nothing prepares you for the moment you have to put both of your parents in some deep dingy hole, in the middle of an ancient looking cemetery. The funeral was minuscule and wet from the rain. A few relatives made appearances. Many of them I did not recognize. I was the youngest of the pallbearers. Most of them were my grandparent’s neighbors, or from the church, my parents and I used to attend. Despite my fears, the service went smoothly. I did my best to focus on the task at hand, trying really hard not to screw things up. My heart was beating uncontrollably; the weight of the coffin was mine to bear, it made my stomach turn in knots wondering which of my parents lay inside. I spotted my Aunt Lisa amongst the sparse crowd, tears streaked down her face she held a tissue in her hand, offering me an obviously fake but encouraging smile. We carefully placed the caskets over the freshly dug graves. The priest opened the coffins and began reading from his bible. His voice continued in a low tone. The words seemed to string together in a way that was foreign to me. My mind could not wrap around the reading but lingered on the past. My heart sank when I finally saw my mom and dad; it was the first time I laid eyes on them since the plane ride. They didn’t look like the same people, they seemed bloated, and their skin tones were off. I was told they both drowned, which was far from comforting. The thought of my parents fighting for air their last moments on Earth weighed heavy on my emotions. I clasped my hands in front of me and lowered my head to say some final words in silence. I couldn’t bear looking at them a moment longer, if not for the rain my tears would have been really obvious. Aunt Lisa was right beside me; she looked very conservative in a somber sort of way. She was wearing a long black dress, a black satin-laced veil that masked her face, and she held open a