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SUNDIAL SHARES: My Sister's Last Breath by Christopher Schulze and Artwork by Morgan Moss

Katie Alerte
Drafts of wind emerge, coming in and out like waves, grabbing the stiff leaves from the oak branches and pulling them down towards the coarse gravel road. The fourth Thursday of November was approaching, and the sun no longer rose to the apex of the sky. Instead, the night overwhelmed the daylight much sooner than it had before, and the trees had begun to loose their shape. Making her way down the frosted steps of the bus was a small, teenage girl with dark, curly hair. With swift strides, the girl made her way down a rock-filled driveway to a wooden door that had been so recently coated with white paint that the scent still lingered. *click headline to read the full story.

The door swung open, then firmly closed shut. The girl’s mother had been gone, without notice, so the girl walked into her sister’s room. “Cheyenne… Cheyenne, I’m home.” With blushing cheeks, her sister turned to her while holding her newborn baby and said enthusiastically, “Hey, you wanna ditch school and go to the mall with me tomorrow?” Standing in the doorway, the girl replied, “No, I really can’t. I have a test tomorrow.” Time passed quickly as the sisters talked, and all too soon, the sun had touched down behind the trees, and the sunlight that once beamed into the bedroom windows had been replaced by only the dim glow of a lamp.
The next morning came just as early as the day before. The chitter of the birds and the rustling of leaves was delicate, yet it was the only thing that could be heard for miles and miles. As the doors of the school bus swung open, the girl, one foot after the other, made her way a few aisles down. Turing to an empty queue, she slid across the seat until the ice-covered window softly touched the side of her face.
Transitioning from class to class, all the girl thought about throughout the day was the test that was waiting for her. As the bell rung, her fingers tightened into her hand, and she began to feel anxious. Even though she had taken many before, the same uneasiness overwhelmed her as the teacher walked menacingly, from desk to desk, distributing a collection of papers held together by a single staple.
The minute hand circled around the face of the clock several times before the principal barged into the room. Tremblingly, he spoke out, “Um, I’m here for Brandi Elliott. I need to see her outside for a moment.” Placing her pencil on the desk, the girl walked out into the hall and followed the principle as a file of papers juddered in his hand. As they approached the doors, in which she exited from school everyday, she began to feel confused. “Where are we going.” Without answering, the principle led the girl outside to a Sheriff standing by his cruiser.
The entire ride was plagued by silence; the girl was too frightened to ask any questions, and the officer never gathered enough courage to explain what had happened. After arriving, the girl was led to a waiting room where she saw her niece, Amber. They waited- then finally the girl watched as her mother frantically streamed towards her and the baby. “Your sister has been shot.” The girl sat calmly, until her mother repeated, “Your sister got shot.” Still calm the girl replied, “She’ll be fine, she’s gonna be alright.” The mother, now upset, rephrased, “Brandi, your sister is dead.” The expression on the girl’s faced changed from one filled with hope, to a look of anguish. Trying to find her balance, she began grabbing anything that would support her weight. Swaying from side to side, it looked as though the ground had been swept from underneath her. Falling to the floor, her surroundings began to blur, and all of her senses rushed to her head at one time. Lying down, she began to fold, like a leaf falling from the branch of a dead tree.

Two nights passed, and it was now Thanksgiving Day, but instead of a busy kitchen or a dinner table covered in decorations, there were just boxes. Boxes filled to the top with clothes, records, anything and everything that had been left behind. Family and friends were dressed in button-up shirts, and long dresses, but not to celebrate the holiday. They were gathered in a green meadow where leaves of yellow and orange rested calmly upon the earth.   
The dark haired girl, stood motionless as a priest attempted to explain the reasoning behind what had happened to her sister, but the girl heard nothing. Even through all the crying, the only the sound she heard were the trees humming in the background and the wind whistling every few seconds. Just as the casket was to be closed for the last time, the girl looked up. Through the dull shade of the surrounding trees, and the muted tone of the carved wood holding her sister, one thing radiated like a light in the darkness- a beautiful, blue bow entwined perfectly into her long dark hair.
“What if- what if I ditched school just that one day. I could have skipped one test and she’d still be here. It has been almost 27 years, since she died- it’s been a long time, and I still miss her. And to this day I’m not sure what would be worse, having a sibling who died or not having one at all.”

In Loving Memory of,
Cheyenne Elliott 1972-1991

Saint Edward's School

1895 Saint Edward's Drive
Vero Beach, Florida 32963