Authors Notes: Aww I received such nice reviews, thanks guys ;.; Well if you want the story of the girl chapter one was based on, while she was at a party some people spiked her drink. They beat and raped her and so that she wouldn't cause a scene they stuck her outside naked in the middle of January in northern Maryland. She froze to death but if she hadn't it would have been drug complications. When they saw she was dead her "friends" called her mom to say they were dropping her off at home. They threw her dead body onto her family's front lawn as they drove by.
Kind of makes you think, doesn't it?

The Art of Breathing

Chapter two

Winter Rain

A week after the day in the hospital, Miranda's funeral was held. Up until that point, I'd stayed away from people entirely. I couldn't face their comfort, it was a reminder of what was real - and that my dreaming couldn't fix it.

It took me two hours to get ready. I was so obsessed with looking a certain way, an attire that would be most respectful to Miranda. I wore all black with no make up and my hair down. When I came downstairs and looked at all the people around me, I realized how much they wanted to intrude - to say something or make me smile.

I don't think I was physically able to.

When we got to the burial Gordo was there waiting. As I saw him everything from that day came back on me and it took every bit of composure I had not to break down in hysterics. I think he sensed it too because when he walked over he kept his eyes on me and took my hand. In a thought of comfort he squeezed it and unconsciously I squeezed back.

We stood in the front and I stayed focused on the background of the cemetery. I didn't hear any of the ceremony until the end, "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…" and Miranda's mother begining to sob quietly.

After the burial everyone went inside for the service. Gordo sat down with me in the front along with the most immediate family like before. Through the whole service he held my hand and if I had been thinking about it at all, I would have admired him for his bravery now. He was in complete normal conscious and aware of everything - and I was still in shock.

I sat there trying not to think about what the pastor was saying - little notes about her life, who she left, who she loved. Hearing people's names in short stories that reflected her most, and then suddenly mine and Gordo's came up.

"A most unique and beautiful young woman, leaves all these loved ones behind: her mother, her father, her family and her greatest friends Elizabeth McGuire and David Gordon." For the first time during the service I looked up and noticed the display made for the memorial.

Photo's of her, her family, and framing the large portrait of her in the center along with a frame of her parents, was a picture of the three of us taken two months ago on the day after we'd come back from Mexico.

It was about then I realized I was crying. When the tears fell from my face to my other hand I was still staring blankly, but now at that photo. Thinking over everything that we'd done, what we'd been through, our whole lives since Kindergarten - the thought of going on without her terrified me so much.

And closest to understanding this was Gordo. Which was why it was so comforting when he squeezed my hand just a little bit tighter.

Earlier they had asked me if I had wanted to make a speech. My parents declined for me. I still hadn't spoken a word since the day in the hospital. So instead, Gordo spoke.

It was the only time during the ordeal that he left my hand and my side, he looked at me and gave me a short comforting smile, but it seemed mostly forced.

When he stood at the pew and placed down his speech I watched him, but in a glazed stare. He was still receiving more of my attention than anything but the wall had had all afternoon, but my thoughts were only just there.

He started out and I barely listened. "Miranda Sanchez was-…" he paused suddenly, and this act brought my eyes into focus and I looked at him. He looked out among all the people in the room, and then crumpled up his speech.

He looked out into the audience with force and motive behind his eyes. "Miranda is one of the greatest people I have ever known." I blinked and stared up to him while everyone in the audience seemed confused.

"No matter how long I live that's not going to change. She loved everyone, and radiated real joy. I can't think of a time when she didn't have at least one positive outlook."

As Gordo spoke the people around him were in awe at his destruction of conformity. Ripping down the paper and giving an imperfect unpremeditated speech, but at once I admired him greatly. He looked down at the stand.

"I remember once, in second grade when the coodie epidemic broke out, she and Lizzie were the only ones that would still play with me. And Miranda said 'this is ridiculous! Coodie's only live in Africa!' And all the other kids believed her, because she never lied and was nice to everyone."

I looked over and saw Miranda's mother smile sadly and gain a look of deep reminisce. Gordo stopped smiling and looked back up.

"She influenced everyone around her to be better people. No one honestly found a disliking quality about her. She…was Miranda, a greater friend than I have ever know." He paused and looked down strait at me.

"And if Lizzie could, I know she'd say so too." I sat dumbfounded that he'd mentioned me as he looked back to the crowd, "Thank you." And he stepped down.

~*~

When it ended everyone exited quietly. There were so many people. Evaporating into the crowd I imagined how happy Miranda would be, to know she was so loved.

In getting out of the building I lost Gordo, but my mother was waiting for me before the entrance. "Lizzie-"

"I want to walk home." I cut her off, speaking for the first time in a week. She looked dumbfounded for a moment but eventually just nodded. "Alright sweetie." I waited for her to leave before I stepped outside.

Groups of people congregated outside. It struck me hard when I looked at them, some of those faces from school, people who barely knew Miranda, talking amongst themselves like they were leaving an assembly. It sickened me that they had the nerve to be here if they were going to socialize.

And as I thought this it started to rain. Thousands upon thousands of droplets erupting from the sky and pounding onto the cold earth. Everyone around me suddenly shrieked and ran for the cover of their cars or houses, and I just stood there.

It was November but it was raining, and I was glad. It should rain. A cold gripping winter rain to soak through the ground and skin and bone, till all of life and death can grasp its chill. That was how it should be - and that was how it was.

When Miranda Sanchez died of a drug-induced heart failure, the world stopped - Or at least for me it did.

@ @ @

sorry for the short chapter but I thought this was an appropriate place to end it. LEAVE ME NOTES!

Love you all

~tl snow