I watch Sophia and Leo finish burying Debbie with a growing feeling of dread prickling down my spine. Once Debbie’s funeral is done, Dean’s will be next.
I’m not sure if I’m strong enough to handle it.
Jack puts a reassuring hand on my shoulder. “It will be okay,” he murmurs in my ear.
I don’t respond. My mind is a jumble of thoughts and emotions; I can barely think straight, much less form words.
I resurface to the present as Leo turns away from Debbie’s grave and pushes through the crowd, tears streaming soundlessly down his cheeks. He disappears from our sight before anyone can move to follow him.
Awkwardly, Alex breaks the silence. “Um, I guess we hold Dean’s funeral now...”
A murmur travels through the crowd and someone calls out, “We don’t have his body!”
This time, it’s Sophie who speaks. “We don’t need to have his body to honor him,” she snaps.
Alex turns to her. “Would you like to speak first?”
“No,” she mutters.
“Well, then,” Alex says, looking around at the rest of us, “would any of you like to speak?”
Then, on an impulse, I raise my hand.
“I want to.” It’s the first thing I’ve said all day.
All heads turn to me.
“You?” Alex looks hesitant.
“Yeah, me,” I respond determinedly.
But before I can continue on, Sophie steps in front of me. “What makes you think you’re allowed to speak at Dean’s funeral?” she snarls.
I back up. “I just--”
She cuts me off again. “You’re the one who killed him.”
I can’t find any words to say.
“You killed him. You have no right to speak at his funeral!” Sophie yells. “You have no right to look at his grave!”
“I’m sorry, Sophie, I--” Tears spring into my eyes and I’m unable to go on. I wipe them away, angry with myself.
“Don’t cry, Courtney,” Sophie whispers, venom lacing her voice. “You have no right to cry. You can’t cry over a death when you caused it!”
Her tone crescendos to a devastated shout. “You killed him. I’ll never see him again, and it’s all your fault. You killed him. You killed him! He’s never coming back. He’s gone, because of you! You MONSTER!”
“Sophie...” My voice cracks.
“Get out of my sight,” she says, turning her back on me.
“Sophie, please,” I cry out desperately.
“I never want to see you again. LEAVE!” she roars.I turn and run.