In the minutes following the event, Beth had become numb. In the following weeks, her numbness became her refuge and she kept adding to it, layer after hard layer to keep everyone out.
The police had arrived quickly, yet still after the gunmen had left the restaurant. The news said it had been a robbery gone bad. Had Beth bothered to talk to any of those who repeatedly asked her how she felt, she would have described it as something far beyond bad. But doing so would have threatened her numbness.
At first, the police thought the bloodied ten year-old might have been shot, too. But the blood was from her parents who lay lifelessly in the booth where Beth and her mother had been laughing at a story her father was telling just when the men came in.
They found the robbers a day later after police responded to a domestic dispute. They found the woman of the house dead and her boyfriend, who had been paroled two hours prior to the restaurant robbery, sitting on the couch holding a bloody knife in one hand and a meth pipe in the other. It was not long after when they rounded up his brother and his best friend, both of whom had been his accomplices in the robbery.
There were plenty of other witnesses but the district attorney had considered having Beth testify at the trial as well. Having the child of two victims on the stand would have been gold to the DA, but the girl was clearly not up to it. When she did feel like speaking, it was in a low monotone, devoid of all feeling.
Beth's Uncle Jay and Aunt Dana had come for the funeral and wanted to take Beth home with them afterward. Beth fondly remembered visits with them and their five year-old daughter, Chloe, who followed Beth like a shadow. But Beth then remembered that she was numb and should not remember anything fondly.
As it was, Beth's grandmother was awarded custody and had stated that everything would be just fine. Aunt Dana, who was sister to Beth's dead mother, had argued with Grandma, accusing her of being the Queen of Denial as she had been when she and Beth's mother were growing up. But Grandma had dismissed her surviving daughter's protests and promptly had Beth attending school two days after the funeral.
"Mourning is no excuse for slacking," Grandma said. "Get back to your work and you'll feel right as rain."
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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Changes last made on: Tuesday, November 03, 2015