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Chapter Forty Six

Letter Rule #3: Break a rule or two every now and then.

"He deserves a funeral. Everyone deserves a funeral."

"I can see what kind of arrangements they've made," dad promised.

For anyone watching my life unfold from the outside, they probably would have summarized my summer in one word: 'faint.' It seemed like that's what I did a lot. Between fainting and concussions, I spent a lot of time in what I thought of as another world.

Only the medication I was on had kept me from totally losing it over Cole. As soon as I regained consciousness, he was there, like a spirit on my brain. I spent two sleepless nights thinking about how he could have done it. How could have he killed himself? He may have been trapped in that home, but eighteen was going to come soon enough. I had always believed he would have been successful in the real world. He could have gone to college, studied philosophy...

"I want to go," I added. "I want to go to the funeral."

"Honey," dad touched the side of my face. "I don't think that's a good idea."

"I'm going to be there," I vowed.

Dad stared at me like he was staring at a stranger. He must have thought it was a side affect from my latest fainting spell.

"Okay," he said gently. He kissed my forehead.

"No problem, sweetheart. I'll take care of everything."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"My daughter would like for him to have a small funeral for one of your patients that recently passed away. Cole?"

The person on the other end said something. Dad tapped his pen against his chin.

"Colton Black? Yes, I'm sure we're both talking about the same person. I know as a ward of the state that there's usually just a quiet burial. Has this been done already?"

Eavesdropping had always been Joe's forte. I wasn't sure that I would win any awards, but my own attempt was working. I was hearing enough to know that my dad had kept his promise to me. I was supposed to still be in bed, but my body couldn't rest.

"Tomorrow? I see. Well if a one-hour service could be held before the burial, I'll be glad to pay for it. Is there going to be a marker?"

My stomach twisted. Words such as 'service' and 'marker' shouldn't be allowed when talking about a teenager.

"I will pay the extra to upgrade the marker," dad said.

My heart swelled. The person on the other end said something else.

"No, we won't be able to make it in such short notice. I'm calling on my daughter's behalf. She's too weak to come, but I know that she'll just sleep better knowing that this was done correctly."

My heart deflated as my mouth dropped open. Was he kidding? I couldn't be there? There was no way I would sleep. He never got my CD. If he had, maybe he wouldn't have felt propelled to do something like this. I needed to talk to Jess. If anyone would know what happened, it would be her. I needed more closure than what dad was doing.

I carefully snuck back to my room, dad's words replaying. She's too weak, he had said. Weak.

I closed my door behind me and drifted to my mirror. Again, I stared at my reflection. Brown eyes. Tiny frame. Dark black hair. I parted my lips, focusing completely on my breathing.

Breathing was life.

Breathing was strength.

From beneath a small jewelry box I pulled out mom's letter to me. It had already been folded and unfolded so many times that the already fragile paper was wearing thin. I knew I would have to scan it to protect the original, but I needed to touch it just as much as I needed to read at the moment.

Mom hadn't even known me, but yet she had. She had nourished me, kept me safe. Had she felt the same way as me when she was a teenager?

Break a rule or two every now and then.

I stared at the words like they were the forbidden apple from the Tree of Knowledge. Rule breaking and Ally McLean did not belong in the same sentence.

Rule breaking.

Ally McLean.

Ally Breaking.

Rule McLean.

Ally McLean, Rule Breaker.

I smiled. Ally Mclean, Rule Breaker.

Would I dare?

I laughed. It seemed wrong, yet right. Cole would have highly enjoyed my inner monologue right now. I could see him in my mind's eye testing my thoughts, pushing me to prove that the statement could be true.

Was rule breaking a piece of me? Was it deep inside, residing with my soul?

Could I be a rule breaker when the rule broken was for good cause?

I suddenly had an idea of how Joe felt when he did something bad. I knew that my brother couldn't totally ignore the feeling of guilt, but at the same time there was an insane rush of adrenaline. He must have felt that the moment the tattoo needle felt his skin.

I returned the letter to its hiding place and slid my body completely down on the floor. From under my bed I pulled out a rectangular box. I had a checking account, but I also enjoyed keeping some 'fun money' at home. I hid the box in a different spot weekly because otherwise one of my brothers would find it. I shifted aside some tampons and a disgusting, ratty bra, pulling out a neatly rubber-banded stack of money. I counted it quickly, then counted it again.

Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point...

The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know.

Marquis' words ran through my head. I couldn't think of anything more fitting at that exact moment. For the first time ever, I highly disagreed with my dad. For the first time ever, I was thinking of doing something wrong. I had never felt more sure of anything in my life.

Was it reasonable? Would it matter in the end? Maybe not.

But my heart had its reasons.