Chapter 6

Saturday sunrise: Mother Nature's masterpiece.

I found myself awake early as the sunlight crept over my window sill, and spent most of the morning browsing the internet. Thinking back to my "dream", I missed my mom- she loved interpreting dreams(or trying to). How I used to tease her.

Lizards, she'd asked, a plucked eyebrow raised. Are you sure?
Yeah.
On a trampoline?
Yes. There was a clown dancing the tango with an emu, too. So what does that mean?
It means... she'd said, with one eyebrow raised as she flicked through the book. Her fingernails are painted orange with little yellow canaries. Hmm...
What is it?
Well, I have two theories.
That was quick.
You either have a weird brain that isn't wired right-
You don't say.
Or- her face blooms into an impish smile- my-a Bella has a-been a-fooling her mama.
And then I'd laugh, and so would she.

The clock told me it was five o'clock, so too early to make the big breakfast I'd planned for Charlie(rough week at work). A walk, maybe? To clear my head? Silently, I walked upstairs and pulled a clean, blood-red shirt over my head then wriggled into my jeans. The sun peeked over the window sill, spilling drops of golden light onto the floor. The only noise was the high, sweet birdsong and the low, heavy snores floating from Charlie's room. Downstairs I began to write a note:

Charlie,

No, that wouldn't do. Crumpling the paper I began again on a fresh sheet.

Dad,

I'm going out for a walk, but I'll be back soon.

Better, but again my pen paused. You see when I made these notes to Mom, I always added "Love you" at the end. Occasionally I added a little doodle. Was that too personal? I did love him, I just... Well, it was tricky, connecting Charlie with Daddy. In the end I scribbled the first thing I could think of:

See you soon,

Bella.

I never wondered what Heaven smelled like until I stepped out that morning, and then I felt I knew; grass jewelled with dew, smoky mist, a daisy haze. I bent to pick up a brown, crumpled leave and it turned to golddust under my fingers, trickling through the air to the damp, grey sidewalk. The morning had none of Phoenix's unmissable beauty but it had its own subtle loveliness that took my breath away the moment I bothered to look for it.

I found myself at St. Isidore's Church after a while, a building marked with a cross and the most beautiful stained windows. But the glittering glass, the pure blue waves under Noah's ark, was not what grabbed my attention as I walked past. What caught my attention as I turned the corner of the ancient building with its arches and huge stones smoothed by a century of rain, was the graveyard the church cast a huge shadow over, because I heard a clergy singing inside and couldn't understand why a woman in black clothes and a thick black veil knelt between two tombstones, her hands pressed together and her head bowed.

Immediately, worry rattled my bones. What was the old dear doing outside in the middle of a mass? Surely a church would never have kicked her out. She'd catch cold with her knees in the wet grass. Glancing at the two weathered gravestones I suddenly thought I understood. Was she mourning relatives? Friends? Perhaps- and my heart lurched here- babies? The clothes she wore, after all, were very old fashioned, so she had to be at least ninety. Grandma Maria(God rest her soul) lost a baby before she had my mom. She planted two white roses in her garden for them, which always bloomed on her baby's birthday. She said she'd have went insane with nothing to care for. Was that what happened to this lady? Wincing, I found myself walking over as she stood up.

"E-Excuse me?"

Within a second she spun around. Shoving her shoulders back she stuck her chin out.

"Do you mind?" she muttered testily. Her voice was young, fresher than lemon and just as sharp. Was she younger than I'd assumed?

"Sorry, I just, uh, thought I should-"

"Go away." She advanced like a black shadow creeping along a wall. "Go on!"

I needed no more prompting than this. Without another word I strode off at such a pace that I didn't even see the figure stood a few feet away just behind the statue of Mary, watching me like a leapard watches pray.