Title: Michael's Mission
Word Count: 1,144
Yes, I know it's been forever and a day since I posted something. But between writing and school, school will always come first. But now that I'm out for summer break, I'll have a little more time to write and edit and whatnot.
First up is another character sketch. This one is for Michael Cline, the second main character in my Hidden Souls universe (the first is Sophia Carson, and her character sketch can be found here). I started writing this back in November, just to try to get inside Michael's head, but he didn't want to let me in too far. So I picked up the document again a couple days ago and banged out the rest.
Note once again that this is a rough (as in almost hot off the press) draft. It's unedited, probably full of mistakes (both grammatical and chronological), and gives a little more away than I'd like, but as the novel is about Sophia, and not Michael, I figure that's okay too. Enjoy!
People were walking up the hill, gathering in a small circle at the top. He stood at the bottom, watching them idly, before seeking shelter from the sweltering sun under a large oak on the edge of the circle. A man within the circle pulled a Kleenex out of his pocket and dabbed his forehead to stop the sweat from running down his face and onto his freshly pressed shirt. Several of the ladies had papers that they were using as fans, while others didn't seem to notice the heat at all, too focused on the speech in the center of the crowd. He stood out in his jeans and black t-shirt, but no one seemed to notice.
The crowd bowed their heads in prayer, and he took the time to watch the faces. Everyone he knew, even some he didn't, were standing there. People he hadn't seen in years had gathered here on this bright summer day. His family stood in the center of the crowd, huddled together as if for warmth despite the heat. The steady cadence of the prayer came to a conclusion and the crowd collectively murmured 'Amen.' There was a slight paused before the crowd shifted, moving closer to the center, then dispersing one by one.
He watched as the older couples filed out one by one, followed by his friends, heading down the hill to their cars parked along the narrow road. None even glanced his way, almost as if they were purposefully avoiding him. He appeared unfazed by this, as if it were a normal turn of events.
Finally, the crowd thinned enough that he could see his mother and father standing next to the preacher, his mother leaning against his father for support. His younger sister stood a little off to the side, her eyes blank and unfocused. He straightened and walked towards her, holding out his hand to offer her support. She shook her head slightly, then turned away and stalked down the hill to where a man was leaning against a small blue car.
His mother let out a soft sob, then turned to her husband and clung to him for support. He whispered reassuring words in her ear, though tears were streaking down his own face. After a moment, both walked slowly towards their own car, leaving only him and the preacher. The preacher looked down at the ground and mouthed a few words, then followed the rest of the crowd towards the waiting cars.
He remained, looking down at the hole in the ground where they had lowered his body. There was a pile of dirt artfully hidden with a black cloth, the edge of a shovel sticking out slightly. He swallowed, then turned to watch the cars as they drove away, one by one. Never before had he felt this alone, looking down at his tombstone.
Michael Richard Cline
Son taken before his prime
June 9, 1984 – August 10, 2007
Letting out a groan of frustration, he looked up at the sky. “Why? Why me? Why did you have to take me away and then curse me by leaving me here?” he shouted, falling to his knees and letting out a sigh of despair.
Glancing down the hill, he saw his sister standing there in the arms of the man who had been waiting by her car. Feeling a sudden surge of anger, he marched down the hill to them. The wind picked up slightly as he moved, rustling the leaves of the trees and his sister's skirt. She shivered and huddled further into the man's arms. As he approached, he heard her sobbing softly.
“It's all my fault, Simon,” she cried. Michael slowed his approach.
Simon shook his head and rubbed her back slowly. “Nat, it's not your fault. It was an accident...”
She shook her head quickly. “I asked him to drive home. I knew he couldn't leave until late, but I insisted he come anyway. And then it started raining...”
Michael shook his head. “Natalie, it wasn't your fault. I'd made that drive hundreds of times.”
Simon held her at arms length. “It was an accident, Nat. Someone was driving too fast down the mountain, and he just got unlucky and went through the light at the wrong time.”
She whimpered softly. “If I hadn't insisted that he drive down that night, he would have come the next morning, when it wasn't raining, and he would have made it home safely...”
Michael reached out a hand for her, but Simon pulled her to him instead. “You can't blame yourself. He wouldn't want that, and you know it,” Simon argued.
Michael sighed softly and nodded, then looked at Simon with narrowed eyes. “You had better take care of her. If you hurt her at all, there will be hell to pay.”
Simon kissed Natalie's forehead, then opened the door to the car and led her in. A few minutes later, the pair was driving away into the distance. Michael stood on the side of the road and watched them, even as they drove out of sight.
“It's not very healthy to hang out around your grave, you know,” a soft voice chimed behind him.
Startled, Michael spun on his heel towards the voice, only to find a girl that looked as if she were only ten dressed in a short white dress. “Who are you?”
She shrugged. “Who I am doesn't particularly matter. You're upset that you died, and you're upset that you're stuck here. Not what you were expecting out of the afterlife, I take it.”
He frowned slightly. “I don't... How can you see me when no one else could?”
She smiled. “Not everything is as it seems, Michael. You have not yet completed your purpose in life, so you'll remain here until you do.”
“What if I don't want to remain here? And what is my purpose?” Michael asked, crossing his arms over his chest.
The girl's eyes twinkled. “You'll figure it out eventually, when the time comes.”
His jaw clenched. “And what am I supposed to do in the meantime? No one can see me or hear me, so I can't interact with anyone, and I can't touch anything. What am I supposed to do in a physical world when I'm not a physical being?”
The girl tilted her head and watched him for a moment. “You're very educated, Michael. Perhaps you would best be suited exploring the interests you didn't have a chance to explore during your life.” Without waiting for a reply, she faded, leaving Michael to shout in frustration at his new situation.
“Have it your way, then,” he shouted. “I'll find my way, but I'm not going searching for it. I'm going to do things my way.” With a sudden burst of wind, he disappeared, leaving the cemetery empty once again.