Read Ripple Effect: A Novel Online
Authors: Adalynn Rafe
Cursing, he fell back, holding his hands to his nose. “You broke it! You dumb––”
Quickly, Cecily regained her feet. She shook now, terrified and hyped on drugs.
“Enough!” Loud and domineering, a voice echoed through the space from the corner of the stuffy room. A man sat in the shadows, hidden from the world. Dark eyes glinted in the dim light of the room, the features of his face hardly visible.
The offender stepped away. Blood covered his face and collar. “Boss––”
“Get off, you idiot,” he barked.
Cecily ran for the door and kicked the man guarding it.
Standing quickly to his feet, the boss in the corner yelled for her. “Cecily! Come back!”
“I’m gonna kill her!” The guard grunted, lying on the floor in pain. He looked a few years older than the one who had attacked Cecily. Good looks and conniving charm claimed that he was just as dangerous as the other.
The boss-man appeared calm. “You, get the blond. You, get Cecily. Bring her here.”
“Boss, just let her go. She’s so high she’s not going to remember anything!”
His voice became very threatening. “She’ll get the cops. Don’t underestimate this girl!”
The goons dispersed from the room as they were told.
“What’s going on, Kelly?” A shiver coursed through me. “Is it the drugs they’re worried about?”
His hand held mine, which brought me comfort. “That’s not all they’re worried about, Cecily,” Kelly answered grimly.
The guy with the dirty blonde hair grabbed Hazel and dragged her toward the billiards room. She didn’t seem okay with being manhandled. “What’s going on? Where is Cecily?”
Behind her, the party continued forward, the floor filled with dancing people and flashing lights. Everything here made me sick; the lights, the crappy music, the smell of vomit mixed with alcohol, the stench of sweaty bodies. This was a horrible place!
“Stop right there!” Darien yelled, holding his hand up to the guy who assaulted me. “You’ve moved up the ladder, haven’t you, Aaron? From bully in high school to rapist in college?”
Darien was . . . so random! He didn’t belong there! Dorky and weird and obsessed with old printed t-shirts, a party like this was a suicide wish for someone like him. He meant nothing to these people and they would eat him up like they were piranhas.
Hazel’s eyes filled with tears. “Darien!”
A huge question mark filled my mind. Since when did the gorgeous Hazel talk to a greasy haired geek like Darien?
“Back off bottom feeder,” Sabrina threatened. She stood behind him, her long arms crossed over her chest, and a scowl on her face. Partly Spanish with long black hair and gray eyes acquired from her white father, Sabrina was gorgeous. Her attitude, not so much.
Darien reached for Hazel’s hand. “I’m taking her!”
Sabrina poked him in the chest. “You lousy piece of crap, so obsessed in your little world filled with Dungeons and Dragons that you don’t even know the evil that transpires around you.”
“What are you talking about?” Darien’s eyes widened. “What did you do to Cecily!?”
Sabrina smacked Darien’s face so hard that he fell to the ground. “Cecily is a coward!”
Aaron grabbed Hazel and pushed her toward the door. Tears filled her eyes as she realized that she was in real trouble, that Darien was knocked out on the floor, and that her very best friend had left her here alone.
Once locked in the room, Hazel was looked over quickly by the boss, who still hid in his shadowy corner. “Let the initiation begin . . .”
Hazel looked horrible. Bruises covered her body, big ugly welts the size of softballs. Golden hair hid her face as she looked down at her bleeding wrists. Rhythmically, she cut her flesh with a razor blade, desperately trying to relieve herself momentarily from her emotional pain as scarlet drops slid down into her palm.
Hazel began humming our favorite song. Her humming would stop as grief and tears overcame her, and she would start humming once again. Moving her hair out of her face, revealed bloodshot green eyes—one circled by black.
She absentmindedly put concealer on her facial bruises. She continued to hum as she stared at herself in the mirror. Taking the blade out once again, she sliced her shoulder quickly and cleanly. Tears filled her beautiful eyes before rolling down her porcelain cheeks.
“Cecily, you shouldn’t have left me there alone,” she whispered. “Alone with them . . .”
Pulling out a bag with white powder, she poured some on her hand before snorting it. Blood trickled from her nose, dying her lips red.
* * *
A room of shadows and emptiness enveloped me.
Yes, my things did clutter the space, but no longer did an occupant reside here. It felt like I was on the set of a horror movie. Silence filled the space, an eerie and dreaded silence . . . the silence heard just before the monster popped up behind you and bit your head off.
The unmade double bed sat in the corner beneath the window; the pale shades unevenly pulled down to cover the cold glass. Dark clothes had been strewn, as if I had been in a huge rush to get somewhere. The lavender and dark purple pillows had toppled to the side of the bed, sort of resembling my life—toppled to the side.
In another corner sat my place of solitude––my corner in the world, the corner that no one could touch or have. It was mine and mine alone.
Running my fingers lightly over a canvas, I closed my eyes and envisioned the paradise that I had fallen into. The vibrant colors were a painter’s dream to see. When I opened them, I saw a blurry drawing in front of me—darker than any nightmare and distorted by the tears that slid down my cheeks.
Placed in a gray forest, a terrified girl ran through the thick trees and away from a beast that chased her. The beast seemed to represent a nightmare, a personal demon that haunted her.
Leaning on the wall and sitting on the floor was a painting of a red lily, not yet completed. It was made for Adie . . . my sister that would soon die.
I looked at Kelly, who stood silently in the shadows behind me. His hands were clasped behind him, and though he seemed indifferent, unemotional for my sake, upset and worry was in his clenched jaw and dazzling eyes. I couldn’t even speak.
Kelly finally spoke. “It was at that party that––well—that you were last seen
“How could I be so selfish?” I whispered, dazed and disgusted by the night’s events.
“Without you here on earth, things are falling apart for the ones you love. It’s a ripple effect. Think of when your dad died and your whole world fell to pieces.” He glanced around the room slowly, taking in the disaster. “That is what is happening to the people who love you.”
Hazel, Adie, Mom— I failed them. My head hung down as I fought the urge to scream and kick and cry hysterically. Instead I took a shuddering breath.
“If I would have just stayed at that party . . . I could have taken that beating . . . not Hazel.” My lip quivered and I couldn’t fight it anymore. “This isn’t right! It can’t be real, Kelly!”
“It is real, Cecily. Everything you saw has happened and will happen.” Kelly held my arms and gave me a sympathetic look before we disappeared from the scene.
“Cecily always wanted to be cremated. She found it to a burden on the earth to have her body buried six feet under in an aluminum casket,” said Reverend Morris. “In her words.”
In my words.
Out of the many things I’d ever said in life and he chose to quote the words spoken about my funeral arrangements. I nearly laughed, but couldn’t, because a large lump of emotion blocked it. I felt horrible for my family, for those who loved me so.
Reverend Morris, a man of African heritage and a heart of gold, gave my eulogy. After my father died, he was the one who ensured that we were taken care of. Papa had a fund set up for us, knowing that someday the mines would take him, and it set us up for life. Bless his soul, and may he rest in peace. Mrs. Morris, the Reverend’s wife, always brought dinner over to us. My sister and I weren’t religious, but on occasion we would join my mother for Sunday services, being that it was something highly important to her.
Kelly and I sat in the very back of the chapel. Stained glass windows reached up towards the ceiling behind the stage and pulpit of the grand chapel. Candles had been lit on a table in front of the pulpit and beside them was a picture of me––the fresh-faced, seventeen-year-old, eager child with long auburn hair and twinkling hazel eyes . . . like my mother’s, I might add. Also on this table sat a vase-like container, painted with bright orange and red flowers. I realized then that it was the urn that contained the ashes of my body.
My mother and sister sat on the front row. Beside my sister, her two best friends; Daphne, who had red hair and green eyes, and Jema, who had brunette hair and blue eyes. Beside them were Hazel and her parents. None of my cousins, aunts, or uncles attended because they lived too far away, or we had lost touch with them over the years.
My mother’s hair was pulled back with a black veil over her face, the same veil she wore to Papa’s funeral. Seeing that broke my heart a little. My sister wore a white dress, in honor of me and all my efforts to keep her alive, and had curled her hair to look absolutely stunning. She weakly leaned on my mother for support.
Adie’s hands were interlocked with Jema’s, who felt just as much a sister to me as Adie, along with Daphne and Hazel. We had banded together over the past few years to form a family unit after Papa died.
The pews were scarcely filled with the people from my life. No one dared to speak of the girl that committed suicide. No one dared to show themselves at her funeral. Suicide was taboo in the place we lived in, same with premarital sex and the use of illegal drugs. Yet, stupid parties like the one that ruined my life occurred every weekend.
Only the people that I had associated with most showed up to my funeral, aside from the neighbors on the street, or the people that Papa worked with who felt sorry for my poor mother and sister. The hall contained pity more than it held simple sorrow.
I stood up and headed down the aisle to the front of the hall as the Reverend told the audience about my life. His normally booming voice, filled with energy and conviction, sounded like background noise in my head. Shock seemed to be the only thing I felt.
Perhaps I truly had died, taken by the reaper, killed by the hands of fate. Though I refused to believe it, I could not hide the truth any longer. In front of me stood my urn, so beautifully decorated, and that became a testament to the living that my life had ended.
Reverend Morris continued, “Cecily was a bright girl. Her passion was painting. Nina recalls multiple times of hearing Cecily singing happy songs as she allowed her brush of talent to paint what she saw in her brilliant mind. This beautiful girl was loved and well-liked by her peers. She had the ‘can do’ attitude of her father, Luca, and carried on his spirit with pride and dignity. She also possessed the charm of her mother, Nina, and could brighten any room with her dazzling smile. Adie, her sister, was her closest friend and confidant. On many occasions Cecily donated her bone marrow to her sweet sister so that she could live.”
Glancing at my sister, I instantly felt like a horrible person. Without me to help her, she would soon suffer a fate such as mine. She would die too, but fortunately for her, be exalted to Heaven.
“Today we pray that our Lord in Heaven, our God and our Redeemer, will take the spirit of sweet Cecily into his loving arms to hold and to cherish in the life hereafter. Cecily was a beloved daughter of our Lord and she represented him in many ways.”
Once again, regret filled me. I didn’t represent him the night I died. I fooled around with Satan, allowing his hand to guide my actions. I did not deserve to dwell with the Lord. I did not deserve to see my Papa again, for he would only look down at me with disappointment and upset.
“Let us bow our heads in prayer:
Dear Lord who art in Heaven, how blessed are we to know such a beautiful soul, to be graced by her loving presence. We pray today that you welcome our beloved Cecily Wolf home with open arms and a warm heart. Bless her family, oh Glorious Lord above, that they will be filled with your gracious presence, that the walls of their home will be filled with the Heavenly hosts from above. Lord, we say goodbye to our beloved Cecily today and set her spirit free to be guided safely home to you. Amen
“Amen!” the congregation followed.
Music began as the chorus assembled to sing “Amazing Grace.” As they sang, people clapped their hands and praised hallelujah to the Almighty Lord. Other people held their faces in their hands as they were overcome with tears of sorrow. My mother stared blankly at the candles around my urn, completely silent as she watched the flames flicker.
The congregation silently proceeded to the graveyard. The sky seemed dark and the air filled with cold moisture. Clouds above threatened all peace and happiness as it blocked the sun from shining down upon the group of saddened people.
In the center of the cemetery sat a large circular wall that contained plaques of remembrance for those who had passed away. On the west side, a plaque had been dedicated to me. Simply my name carved with love by surviving my family members.
Watching them there, gathering around my plaque, I couldn’t stop the sharp pain that shot through my heart. I missed them so much! I wanted to hug them tightly and never let go, to tell them that everything was okay and to not fear. If I could only touch them, to feel their warm skin once again, to be embraced by their loving arms . . . I would do anything!
Kelly touched my arm softly and I immediately leaned into his shoulder, crying. His strong arms wrapped tightly around me. “You were a ray of sunlight in their lives,” he reminded me optimistically.
If only I could be remembered that way by Hazel. I left Kelly’s side and went over to her, realizing just how traumatized she really was. She carried survivor’s guilt, written all over her face. Let alone the fact that she was raped and beaten the night I died. Her beautiful, beaming green eyes were filled with hurt and pain. Tears streamed down her face as she stared at the plaque before her.
“I should have stopped this,” she said, barely audible.
“No, Hazel, you couldn’t have,” I said back to her.
Hazel couldn’t hear me. She couldn’t see me. She couldn’t even sense my existence, or lack thereof. What use was it to be a spirit, to watch the ones you love suffer in so much pain and not be able to interact with them, to help them feel better? Death wasn’t fair.
* * *
As the sun came out from behind the storm clouds to set in the west, my family gathered at the old bridge that crossed over the river, the bed filled with old willow trees and cattails. They had taken a baggie of my ashes to throw into the river that ran north of our small town.
Everyone wore sweats, just the way that I would have had it. Dresses were uncomfortable and unnecessary for spreading ashes. Each person held a priceless flower. My mother, Adie, Hazel, Jema, and Daphne lined the rustic railing of the bridge and had lit small tea light candles to create ambience.
First, Daphne held a flower over the bridges edge. An exotic purple orchid. She always said that I was her exotic flower, rare and majestic. “I hope that Cecily visits the Pacific Ocean. She has no bounds as to what she can do now,” Daphne said, before dropping the flower into the river.
Jema smiled at Daphne. She held out an orange rose and looked up at the colorful sunset, filled with oranges, pinks, and yellows. “Goodbye, little sister. May your heaven be filled with the brightest of the colors . . . and the perfect canvases on which to paint.”
Tears covertly slid down Hazels ivory cheeks, now red from being upset. She held a purple daisy in her hand as she stared mindlessly at the water. She knew that purple was my favorite color. “We shouldn’t have gone there, Cecily,” she whispered painfully. “I miss you so much.” Her voice cracked.
Jema wrapped her arms around Hazel and held her tightly. “It’s okay, baby. It’s okay.” Jema rocked Hazel gently and soothingly. She gave the look to carry on to Adie.
Adie smiled as she looked down at the red lily she held in her hand. Her brown eyes were filled with tears of joy, which shocked me.
“I am so proud of you, Cecily. Thank you for granting me my life all these years. That lily painting is beautiful and I will always cherish it. I love you, little sister.” Adie dropped the lily into the water where it landed perfectly.
My mother smiled at Adie and rubbed her back. In her hand sat a bushel of the white edelweiss flower. She looked at the sunset as she tried to smile through her tears. She was so beautiful and strong. I admired her so much and never told her. I should have told her. “Your Papa gave me these flowers when we first met. I thought you should have them too, my little girl, for when you return home to meet him once again. Goodbye for now, sweet Cecily.”
She swallowed a lump of tears as she pulled out a bag of my ashes. The opened bag allowed my ashes spread over the waters as the breeze took them toward the sunset.