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22 October 2013 @ 06:42 pm
call & response [chapter one]  
Title: call & response
Author: twilight_rush
Rated: pg-13
masterlist here

Chapter ONE

The morning before the funeral, Bianca’s brother, who wore only black and other dark colored clothes, came into her room and asked, “So what color should I wear to the funeral?” It was the first mention Nico had made of the funeral since the incident, the first words he had spoken in a week. His mouth stayed in a thin line, no amusement or any awareness that he was going to say, “Get it? That’s the joke. You wear black to funerals, I only wear black, yet I asked you what to wear, ha ha.”

         Bianca stared at his figure from her vanity mirror, placing her hairbrush down on the table. She didn’t know what to say, not sure what Nico meant by his off-color remark. He stood there, face blank, as Bianca stood and walked over to him. He kept his eyes on hers even as she hugged him, and his arms went loosely around her waist.

         He did not cry.
Bianca has never been to a funeral in her life. She’s had family members who’ve died, but they were distant relatives no one really knew much about, or they lived too far away. She knew her mom’s side of the family all lived back in Italy save for a few cousins. Though her father was one of the most well respected funeral directors in their town, she’s never spent a day at his workplace, or helped out at it. He’s never discussed his work with the family either.

         To her first funeral today, the one her father somehow managed to set up without breaking down, she wore a red satin dress. Her mother had picked it out for her 17th birthday last year. Bianca liked the gold stitched pattern—tiny stars and moons— at the hem, and how the dress gave the illusion of her having curves and being taller. (“You look gorgeous in it,” her mother had said. “Strong and brave.”)

         She wore this dress to her mother’s funeral, and stood out from the sea of black garments. Bianca didn’t do anything to her hair; kept it straight so when she hung her head, it created a curtain around her face. No one would see her emotions; the tears welled up and ready to fall. A constant sharp pain was stuck in her chest, and at first she thought, I’m having a heart attack, I’m dying, because she couldn’t move and the pain made it hard to breathe.

         Her mother’s favorite flowers, daisies, littered the church and scattered along the closed red oak casket she resided in. Bianca’s father was the only one to have seen her body. The only thing Bianca knew was that the fire didn’t incinerate the body enough to leave it as ash. If she looked around, she’d see a packed church: some relatives, friends, co-workers, the fire victims’ families. All of them with somber expressions, and some muttering, “Poor Maria,” or “Hades has to raise those kids all by himself now.” Bianca was only aware of her dad and Nico on each side of her. The old man speaking nonsense as he stood with his bible was barely there. Though her ears caught onto the words “two weeks ago,” and she was reminded again.

         Two weeks ago, the preschool Maria worked as a teacher in caught fire. They said she died going back in to save the last few children who had gotten stuck, because the roof had caved in. Another woman went in after her.

         They all died.

         Bianca went to grab Nico’s hand, and feeling only air, she looked up. He was standing, his mouth slightly shaking as he glared at the casket. His voice, quiet at first, shook as he spoke. “This is . . . this is wrong, and I can’t—I can’t—.” He gasped, and just as Bianca was ready to touch his hand, pull him back into her arms, he darted from the pews and down the aisle.

         “Nico!” She chased after him, not caring to notice the sympathetic looks people threw at her. When she burst through the church doors, hot sun rays hit her skin. She squinted, shielding her eyes from the light, as she tried to locate where Nico ran off. Annoyance crept up her spine, and it took her a few to realize it was because she hated how outside looked. Too much greenery, sunshine, and people walking down the street with cheerful smiles.

         Meanwhile her mother lay dead inside.

         She spotted Nico running across the street and around a corner. She followed, soon catching up. “Nico, stop!” He pushed his legs faster, till Bianca lunged forward, arms catching his waist. They tumbled to the sidewalk, elbows hitting the concrete and knees scrapping it. Something shagged on Bianca’s dress, creating a small tear. She blinked, cheeks red and wet, and told herself she shouldn’t cry over a dress till she realized it wasn’t her tears. Nico’s red eyes stared at her, tears streaming down his face as he bit his lip.

         “N-nico, wait,” she said, afraid he would start running again. He shook his head, hair hanging in his face as he stood; chest heaving like it was difficult for him to breathe. Nico never liked to cry—he probably came off as one of those kids who were too “tough” to cry. At sixteen, he was still growing, almost taller than Bianca, but his face still held its childlike features. His eyes, too wide and now fearful, kept spilling tears.

         He wiped his face, leaving wet streaks on his black sleeved shirt. “I don’t want her gone,” he cried. Bianca took a step closer, ready to hold him.

         “I know, honey.” Nico shook his head again, sniffling. The sunlight behind him brightened, coating him in cruel warmth. His jaw tightened as he stepped back. She didn’t know if he was about to run again, or scream that her knowing didn’t mean anything. Their mom was still gone. Bianca finally wrapped her arms around him, his face in her hair. She didn’t say anything else—what could she? They stood silent, till eventually Nico hugged her back tightly. She felt him shake all over, making small gasps as he tried to stop crying.

      Bianca rubbed her eyes on his shoulder. The tears built up behind her eyelids, but she wouldn’t cry.
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