• She sighed, glancing up at the dark sky that seemed to impend over one and all in the parking lot. The cloud shad just freshly finished crying, but the thunder continued to roll which made it seem as if they would open and cry once more. She shifted in her tiny, beat-up car before she looked up at the one place s he had hoped never to see again; her old high school. Just seeing the name ‘Harvest Rose High’ written in white over the wet brick brought back memories that she didn’t want. She gripped the wheel tighter, in an almost vice like grip as she remembered being pushed as she walked down the halls, the laughter that always seemed to ring in her ears, even the notes taped to her back. Kids loved writing things on her back like ‘fat-a**’, and ‘loser’, even though the act of doing so was terribly cliché. Sabrina shook the thoughts from her mind, if only for a split second as she leaned over and pulled her purse into her lap, throwing multiple things inside. She quickly got out of her car and looked up at the massive prison-like building.

    “Of all the places I ever wanted to see…This place, to say the least, was the last of my list…” She glanced around the parking lot, taking in faces that she hadn’t seen in what seemed like ages. Though, one face caught her attention more than others, and made her heart stop for a moment.

    “Damn…” She was staring at the now full grown version of her High School sweet-heart. The shaggy man-beast of a boy she had loved in school, named Jayson, had grown into every woman’s dream. His hair was no longer unkempt and was swept up into a slick ponytail, but she noticed that it had kept the curl that she had loved so much in high school. He looked snazzy in his suit and tie, and the affect was only heightened when she noticed that he was walking away from his 2011 Porsche. She shut her eyes, shaking her head as she looked away, scanning the faces yet again. When she began to head for the ‘party’ inside, she heard something that sounded like someone was scratching millions of nails across acres of chalkboard – or at least it sounded that way to her. She cringed, turning to look over her shoulder into the face of a tiny woman who couldn’t have stood any taller than 5ft tall. The woman seemed to be right at home with a horde of children skittering about her feet. Sabrina put on her best fake smile and turned to face what was her high school nemesis – Sapphire.

    “Sabrina! It’s been so long! I hope you can forgive me for my little…mess up that I caused in high school. I was so immature back then…” Sabrina had to smirk, though she kept from blurting out that it was more than immature to pretend to be someone’s best friend, then steal their boyfriend, drop them as a friend, spread rumors that you were a lesbian, then on top of that, screw you’re boyfriend that you cared deeply for – and tell you about it! “I was hoping we could start over and become good friends?” Sabrina raised an eyebrow at the offer, looking from Sapphire, then to her car, wondering if she got in the car fast enough and started it just in time, if she could run the small pest over. No one would ever know, but the small amount of conscious in her made her turn and put on her fake smile again. The memories of what happened flashed behind Sabrina’s eyes as she physically tried to keep from twitching. The only person in the parking lot who knew what Sabrina honestly wanted to do happened to glance over and see the two of them standing together, and only saw the twisted smile on Sabrina’s face. Jayson began to immediately walk over.

    “Of course honey…” Her voice was thick with her southern accent. She finally shook the violent thoughts from her mind, looking from the children, then back to Sapphire. “I have to admit…My actions were less than admirable…The ink in your drink was highly uncalled for…And I think that putting super glue on your hair-brush was a little over the top…If you can forgive me, then I’m sure that we can become just…great friends…” She had to strain the word to get it out, but Sapphire didn’t seem to notice or mind. Sabrina reached a hand towards the cause of her migraine, offering her a handshake, but much to her displeasure and horror the tiny woman gripped her hand and pulled her into a hug. She made a face that looked as if she was going to be sick, but once Sapphire finally let go she leaned up quickly, taking notice of Jayson who had made great strides and was now close to the two women.

    She instantly felt the tension between the three of them, seeing the sparks fly as she backed up slowly with a slight smile. She had always wondered what had happened to Sapphire and Jayson’s little fling, and it made her giggle to see that it had apparently ended horribly.

    “Sabrina!” The voice was familiar, and welcoming. She turned, seeing the faces of two people that she knew all too well, and a true smile wiped across her face. The faces of Jewel and Krystal came winding from behind the back of an SUV. Both women were dragging a significant other with them; Jewel was dragging a man twice her height who had hair that was also twice as long as hers and Krystal was dragging a man the same height, weight, hair length, and color. She had to laugh at the mates that her friends had chosen. The two girls ran, colliding with Sabrina and hugging her tightly, it looking almost comical. Krystal was taller than Sabrina, who was taller than Jewel, but somehow Jewel had ended up in the middle of the two, and her head was being mashed between two chests. At the sight of the other two girls though, Sapphire ‘hmmped’ and walked away, much to Sabrina’s pleasure. They each backed away after a moment, the two women moving to grab the hands of their lovers.

    “Sabrina! I thought that you wouldn’t come to a reunion! That’s what you always told us anyway! What happened to that little promise?” Jewel grinned, for a moment her dark thoughts and fears lifting from her shoulders. The horrible thoughts from before were replaced by the memories of the three of them during high school, having a blast and reeking havoc on the place. She laughed as she shook her head. Oh, how good it was to laugh. For so many years she couldn’t find any happiness, any joy…She simply couldn’t find it in her soul to feel. The last time she could actually remember feeling and laughing was before…her mind drifted back into darkness. Sabrina refused to think about it. She attempted to cover her random change of emotions by smiling to her friends, but it was already too late. They had known her for too long, and they saw the change the second it happened.

    “Sabrina, what’s wrong? What’s on your mind? And while we’re here, tell us! What happened in the time that you practically fell off the face off the Earth? After Graduation you just disappeared!” Sabrina cringed as her friend began to ask questions. She didn’t want to think about it! Stop it! She mentally was screaming, bashing herself against the walls of her mind for the pain to stop. “When I would call, Mama would tell us that you were out for a walk. You don’t walk, Doll…Sorry to tell you, but in the twenty years of knowing you, you’ve never willingly gone on a walk anywhere than to the kitchen to get a ding-dong…” Jewel crossed her arms, smirking, but she didn’t understand what she started. Sabrina tried to laugh, but she was trying to do too much at once. Her mind couldn’t wrap around the thought process of pretending to be happy, causing her to twitch, a growl coming from deep in her throat. Though, a similar growl coming from Krystal seemed to snap her back to her senses, or at least partially. But Jewel didn’t see this, never being the brightest crayon in the box.

    “Come on woman! Obviously something happened, or you wouldn’t be growling at us again. So what happened, was it a boyfriend? I told you to stay away from Tyler! Or…Or was it that Nana finally passed on? God bless her soul…” Sabrina growled again, the prodding bringing the memories that she didn’t want. In her mind she was thrashing, screaming and yelling for everyone just to stop, for the pain to just go away! Sabrina backed up; trying to get away from everyone in the area, but when she turned to leave she nearly tripped and fell, crashing into Jayson, who had decided to stay. She glared at all of them before attempting to slip into her car, but was cut off as Jayson moved to lean against the door, crossing his arms with a smirk on his face.

    “The least you can do is offer them an explination, Deirdre…” She flinched when he said that, considering it had been her pet name for him when they had dated. She shook her head as she still tried to pull the door handle. Once she felt that it wasn’t going anywhere she stepped past them, deeper into the row of cars.

    “Just shut up! All of you! It’s none of your damn business! If I had wanted you all to know what was wrong with me, I would have posted it in the newspaper! Front page!” She was going to continue her rant, but she felt someone tap her shoulder. Sabrina jerked her head around and was about to chew whoever had been touching her, but was met with a face that was far more startling and far more painful, to remember than any memory of being picked on in school. She had to blink a few times, and then turned around completely to face the person. She felt her mouth drop slightly when she saw the face of her sister.

    “G-Grace?...Sister?!” The tall, seemingly all knowing woman smiled and crossed her arms. The woman was just as tall as Sabrina, but seem the Ying to Sabrina’s Yang. Whereas Sabrina had bright blonde hair – Grace had dark chocolate brown. Whereas Sabrina had cobalt blue eyes – Grace had sapphire green. And whereas Sabrina had a generous chest, Grace had ‘birthing hips’. The three of Sabrina’s friends all were passing confusing glances at each other as they watched their friend have a break-down.

    “Who’d you expect, Blondie? The Candy man?” Grace nearly fell backwards when Sabrina tackle hugged her, Then held her at arms length away.

    “Sibling! They said…They said that when the car had crashed…that you had…” Grace simply laughed, already knowing what her sister was about to say. She, almost too easily, pulled her sister into a hug. The memories ran freely like a tape-wheel through her mind now. She and her sister had been driving. They were on their way home. They came to the stop sign, going too fast. They couldn’t stop the car, and tried to go ahead and go, but they didn’t stand a chance. Sabrina had tried to tell her sister to slow down, but it was too late. They were in traffic, and it was rush hour. They were hit on Grace’s side, sending Grace flying into Sabrina’s lap. From the impact, and the trauma, Grace was in a coma as soon as the paramedics came to the scene, and her heart-rate was dropping rapidly. So much pain…so much trauma for such a small frame, but what made it worse was what happened to Sabrina. All she got? Was a Band-Aid, a damn Band-Aid, while her sister lay dieing her lap? Sabrina looked at her sister, tears flowing unchecked down her cheeks. She finally took in her sisters appearance, noticing a long scar that ran from her eyebrow, to her collarbone and back over her shoulder, running along the outside of her face.

    “Sister…I have something I need to tell you…” Sabrina was ecstatic, she had her sister back! Nothing could ruin this. Sabrina only nodded to her sister. “I never made it out of the operating room…I died shortly after I left you in the car…” Sabrina felt as if someone had punched her in the stomach, hard, but she was confused. Her sister was standing right in front of her! How could she have…not… “I never made it past the first night in the hospital. They couldn’t get the glass out of my heart in time…I died on the operating table as they tried to remove it.” Sabrina stepped backwards, letting go of her sister as she started in shock at this…thing in front of her. Was this her sister, or had she finally gone insane?

    “When they put me on the table, I was already bleeding myself to death…Though, when they tried to remove the glass it removed the pressure and the blockage that was keeping me from bleeding more. I died on that table, Kathryn…But, I’ve come to try to tell you to stop grieving for me…” Grace put her hand to her sister’s cheek, but this time her hand simply passed through her. “I did it for you sister. I knew that if I didn’t do something, that the glass would have gone straight into her chest. The impact wasn’t what threw me into your lap…I was. I knew that one of us was going to die that day…But I didn’t want it to be you…” Sabrina felt the tears running down her face, but she made no move to remove them.

    “I would have me die, and you live your life to the fullest, than for you to die at only eighteen years old. It would have been a waste. Sibling, you always had so much potential, and I knew you could do anything you wanted to, if you would just set your mind to it. You…You were the perfect child; I only wished I could be. You were the one that always helped, always was there for the family…” Grace looked down, tears pooling at the corner of her eyes. “I was selfish…I only came when I needed money. You loved them…I simply loved money.” She looked up, smiling gently. “Sabrina, I was wrong…Love…” She laughed, shaking her head as she looked around, motioning to all the cars. “Love isn’t about…the kind of car that you get your loved one…Or…or the rings that you buy or the bracelets or the charms. It’s not about how many times you take them to the movies or material things like that. True love is felt on the inside…For nothing at all…”

    “S-stop! You’re not dead! You’re right here! Y…You can’t be dead!” Sabrina put her hands to her ears as she tried to block out the talking, whimpering as the screaming in her mind only increased; a banshee like scream that could have easily shattered glass.

    “Sabrina! Don’t go on with your life mourning something that wasn’t your fault!” Grace balled her hands up at her sides as she cried. “Don’t waste your life wishing you could un-do something that was for the best! I would have ruined the chance that God gave me. You have to forgive yourself! I did it because I loved you! Don’t let my one selfless act in my life be in vain!” Sabrina pushed her fists against her eyes as she cried even harder.

    “Noo…” Her cry cut the three of her friends to the core, shaking their heads as they watched her friend simply continue to rant to someone who simply wasn’t there. They couldn’t see Grace, so was Grace insane?

    “Sabrina Anya Balken! Don’t you DARE hold onto this…It wasn’t your fault!” Grace grabbed her shoulders, shaking her hard before looking at her, glaring at her. “Forgive, and live…Wasn’t that your motto? Why aren’t you living by the damn thing?! Forgive yourself, so that I can rest in peace!” Sabrina looked up wide eyed, though that seemed to get the result that Grace wanted. For the first time since the accident, Sabrina actually acknowledge what happened, taking a deep breath as she finally, after nearly 25 years, honestly forgave herself and understood that it wasn’t her fault, or at least accepted it.

    “Sister…Thank you for finally understanding…” Grace smiled as she spun around and took a few steps, seeming to disappear. Sabrina seemed to stare a little as she let a crooked smile cross her face. She finally felt the relief though, taking a deep breath and smiling as she looked up at the sky. She finally felt at peace…

    In her peace though she dropped her purse that had been on her arm. With a gasp though, she tried to grab it, but the only thing she accomplished was causing the purse to spin. Once it hit the ground she heard a sound that terrified her far worse than any demon, she heard a bang, then something that sounded like metal reflecting off of metal, then a hollow thump; in a moment of bliss she forgot that she had a .9mm in her bag – out of paranoia so that she could protect herself. She looked down at her chest slowly, her breaths getting shorter as she saw a red bloom begin to spread over her white blouse.

    “Oh…Oh my god! Jewel! Call 911!” Sabrina carefully sat back to lean against her friends, taking their hands in hers and holding onto them as she waited. She began to understand why her sister had come to her. Her sister, even in death, knew that if she had died with that weight, that she would have been eternally damned. Her sister had come back from the grave, just to tell Sabrina to forgive herself; and it was enough. The girls were screaming to people in the parking lot to call 911, but everyone else around them knew that there was no hope for Sabrina, the bullet had went straight through her heart, but at the angle, it had taken out too many different organs.

    She looked up at her friends again, the darkness overtaking her eyesight, but blinked a few times when she saw her sister step back into view. She felt as if a weight was lifted and she sat up, or at least so she thought. She blinked, looking around. It wasn’t just her sister there; it was her mother who had died recently. It was her grandmother that had passed away five years ago. Her grandfathers, all of them; all these people had died. She smiled when she saw them, her body seeming to take on a glow as she stood up and stepped away from the crying masses at her feet.

    Sabrina turned, looking down at her friends, and then realized that her body was still laying there. Her body looked pale, and the life-light was gone; the glow of all humanity was missing from her face. She tilted her head much like a confused puppy would, looking down at own body. She looked at her family though, then back at her friends, smiling. She reached out and tried to touch their shoulders, and was surprised when she came in contact with their shoulders. They felt nothing though – their bodies cold and empty with grief. She turned back to her family, smiling. They all smiled in return, beginning to walk away. One by one they disappeared, leaving just her and her sister standing in the parking lot out of her all the family that had been there.

    She finally turned and looked at her sister. Grace looked like she had right before she died. Sabrina had also changed, looking like she had the day that her sister had died.

    “Come on, Sister…We have a lot of catching up to do…But this time, we have an eternity to do it…” Grace held her hand out again, smiling. Sabrina only blinked a few times before grinning, grabbing her hand and taking off running, causing her sister to laugh as they both disappeared like the rest of the family had done – leaving her body, her old life, and her bounty of friends to mourn the death of someone that they had all known and loved so well.