Bury Me
Author:Tara Sivec

“We need eggs, milk and bread. You have my eyes, a good head on your shoulders and you’re the most perfect daughter anyone could ever ask for.”

This is the reason why I’ve stopped asking questions and I pretend as if nothing is amiss in my addled brain. These are the facts I’ve been told and the only truths anyone will give me about myself. This is the girl my parents raised and the girl they pinned all of their hopes and dreams on.

This is also the girl my father speaks about in past tense, as if she doesn’t exist anymore, even though I’m standing within touching distance of him.

“I think I’m going to head back up to my room before anyone gets here,” I tell my father, keeping my eyes focused on him, instead of back inside the cell where they want to go.

“That’s probably a good idea. You’ve had a rough couple of days.”

He turns away from the window and opens his arms to me. I hesitate for a moment before walking into them. When I do, I bury my face in the lapels of his black suit coat and inhale his scent: peppermint from the mints he always keeps in the inside pocket of his coat and the faint, fruity smoke from the pipe he sneaks when my mother isn’t at home, and the reason for the peppermints.

My father is a tall man and my cheek barely reaches his chest as I wrap my arms around his waist. Eighteen years of hugs, eighteen years of comfort and yet it feels like this is the first time he’s ever held me this tightly.

A wave of uneasiness suddenly washes over me and instead of feeling comfort in my father’s arms, I feel trapped and claustrophobic. I quickly pull myself out of his embrace and back away from him. He looks down at me sadly, his arms still held open from my quick departure. I force a small smile on my face before turning and walking quickly through the door to take me away from the cell block. Once I’m out of my father’s view, I pick up the pace and jog through the rooms and hallways that intersect, leading me away from the main area of the prison and toward the lobby where I can then take the stairs up to our living quarters. I pass the guard stations, prison showers, and administrative offices as I go, all of them empty with peeling paint on the walls, cobwebs, and a quiet eeriness about them. I know the way through these halls like the back of my hand and I can recite the history and violent acts that happened in each room, but I can’t explain why I woke up covered in bruises and scratches, with a headache that, two days later, still rages behind my eyes.

Turning the last corner that will take me into the main hallway by the front doors and gift shop, my body slams into something solid and I stumble backward. Strong hands wrap around my upper arms, jerking me forward before I can fall on my ass. Glancing up quickly, I peer into a set of beautiful pale blue eyes. They mesmerize me for a few seconds until the hands gripping my arms suddenly push me away. I stare at the man standing in front of me, feeling a spark of familiarity when I look at him. He looks to be in his twenties and is wearing faded jeans and an old band t-shirt covered in specks of dirt. His blonde hair is cut short on the sides and longer on top, a few shaggy tufts falling down over one eye as he looks at me. Even with a thick lock of hair obscuring some of his face, I can still see his eyes narrow in annoyance at me.

“You should watch where you’re going, Ravenna. You can’t afford any more accidents.”

I feel my face heat at his words and know my pale skin is turning red. He obviously knows who I am, but the angry look on his face as he glares at me makes me wonder if it’s a good idea for me to know him.

My heart starts beating rapidly as he continues to stare at me without saying another word. I feel a shiver run through my body and goose bumps break out on my arms. All the things I was supposed to feel over in the cell block have suddenly manifested just from the look this guy is giving me, and I’m frozen in fear. The bump on my head suddenly starts to ache and I have a quick image of running through the woods in the middle of the night, covered in rain and mud. I gasp out loud, but just as soon as I try to reach into my mind to grab more of the memory, it disappears in a flash and my brain shuts down.

“Nolan, what are you doing in here?”

I jump when I hear my father’s angry voice behind me and pull my gaze away from the man in front of me to turn my head. My father stands in the hallway with his hands on his hips and one eyebrow raised questioningly.

“Just bringing in some fresh flowers, like you asked. There’s a vase next to the register in the gift shop and one in the artifact room.”

My father nods, folding his arms in front of him. “Then there’s no need for you to be dallying inside. The grounds around the lake need to be mowed today.”

Nolan’s arm brushes against mine as he moves around me to head toward my father, bringing forth a whole new round of goose bumps. My father steps out of the way to let him exit through the huge twelve-foot-tall wooden door that leads outside. They share a quiet look as Nolan passes, stepping out onto the front porch before the heavy door slams closed.

When we’re alone in the hallway, my father sighs deeply before turning to look at me.

“Who was that guy?” I ask, rubbing the coldness from my arms.

“You don’t remember Nolan?”

I shake my head and my father shoves his hands into the front pockets of his black suit pants, his face displaying a flash of relief at my reply, which makes me want to ask a hundred questions. All of which I’m sure won’t be answered in the way I need.