tagInterracial LoveAfter the Fact Ch. 02

After the Fact Ch. 02

bycnhemingway©

Alright ya'll, let's do this again.

As usual, hit me with the constructive feedback.

As usual, no editor.

Glad I'm getting a good response so far, was worried how some would take that "twist" but so far so good.

Like I said I am quite attached to these characters so this story will probably be much more emotionally charged than "Your Love".

Enjoy!

** ** ** ** **

Marcus sat at the kitchen table in shock.

No. There's no way...

Lila?

Lila's dead.

Lila is dead.

His Lila.

When?

He just spoke to her. Last night. How could she be dead?!

She was fine. I should have offered to pick her up or something. I knew how bad the weather was!

Oh God, Lila is dead.

Marcus felt his stomach turning, his heart was on the verge of explosion.

Stormy whined at her owner's feet sensing the sudden change in his mood.

Marcus paced his kitchen unsure of what to do or how to feel.

This was a woman that he had no relationship with outside of the bedroom and yet the news of her death was shaking him.

They had no friends in common.

There was no one he could talk to about her.

There was nothing he could do.

** ** ** ** **

"We're sorry for your loss Mrs. Burke. She was a wonderful woman." Another mourner said, greeting Lila's mother.

"Thank you very much dear." Marta replied.

Marta wasn't sure she could do this much longer. She appreciated the kind words and support but at the moment all she wanted was to be alone with her thoughts of her only daughter.

"Momma?" Darren said looking at his mother with worry in his eyes. She looked at him and gave him a small smile.

"Momma why don't you go upstairs and lay down? I can finish seeing everyone and I'll come get you when it's time to head to the cemetery."

Marta nodded and turned to head for the staircase.

Darren's eyes followed his mother upstairs. He was more concerned for the health now more than ever. She had suffered a stroke three months ago and had just barely pulled through, now with the loss of Lila he wasn't sure what would happen. Lila and their mother had always been close, she was her baby girl.

And his little sister.

His little sister was gone.

He still had a hard time believing it.

He couldn't wrap his head around the fact that he'd never see little Lila again.

Never wrestle for the remote.

Never fight her for the last piece of Mom's peach cobbler.

Never watch fireworks on July fourth again.

She was his only sibling and now he'd never share those things with anyone ever again.

His heart felt heavy and empty all at the same time.

Darren felt a hand on his shoulder.

The funeral home driver stood solemnly.

"Sir? We are ready for the procession to the cemetery."

Darren nodded and went went upstairs to retrieve his mother.

** ** ** ** **

"When we lose a loved one too early, it can cause us to have many questions. But the answers we seek are answers we may never find. We must trust that God has a plan."

The reverend continued his message over Lila's ivory casket as mourners looked on.

Darren looked out over the cemetery as the words fell into the background.

It was a cold November day but it was still a nice day. The sun shone down directly on the service and warmed them.

She was here. He could feel it.

Fall was always her favorite season.

The crisp leaves were bright colors, the wind was low, and air was crystal clear.

Yes, she was here with them.

Darren brought his attention back just as the reverend was finishing.

He and his mother approached the casket to say their last goodbyes. He placed the rose he'd been holding onto the casket and moved back.

Once everyone had said their final words the casket began to lower.

It was all hitting him at once.

She really was gone.

I love you little sister. Rest in peace.

** ** ** ** **

**KNOCK KNOCK**

Marcus stood at the door a complete bundle of nerves.

He had actually sat in his car for half an hour trying to build the nerve to walk up to the house.

It seemed like hours before he finally heard the lock turn.

A tall man swung the door open.

He looked just like her.

"Hi." Marcus said, trying not to sound nervous.

"Hello, can I help you?"

"You don't know me, but I knew Lila."

"How did you know my sister?" The man asked with defense in his voice.

"Oh, I was a friend of her. My name is Marcus Dodson."

"Lila never mentioned a Marcus Dodson to me."

The man moved to close the door but something stopped him.

A hand.

Both men looked down to see an older tired looking woman peeking around the edge of the door.

"Marcus?"

Marcus swallowed audibly.

"Yes ma'am."

She looked him up and down with a curious look on her face.

"Come in."

It was all she said before turning and heading back into the house.

The man moved reluctantly to the side to allow Marcus to walk past him.

Marcus got a better look at the woman who allowed him access.

She was definitely Lila's mother. She was the spitting image. Just more wrinkles.

"I'm Marta Burke, Lila's mother. This is my son Darren. What can we do for you Mr. Dodson?"

"I saw the article about Lila in the paper. I didn't see any information about where she was buried and I wanted to pay my respects, if that was ok."

Darren looked Marcus up and down, clearly skeptical of the stranger who claims to know his little sister.

Marta however looked pleasantly surprised to see him. He wasn't sure why.

"Darren?" Marta addressed her son.

"Yes momma?"

"Go watch that pasta on the stove."

"But mo-"

"Go!"

With that Darren reluctantly turned and stalked towards the kitchen, but not before shooting Marcus a grimace over his shoulder.

Marta continued to look him up and down, studying him.

"I know you."

Marcus had no idea what she could have been talking about, he was sure he'd remember meeting Lila's mother.

Marta could see the confusion on his face and it made her smirk.

"I should say, I know who you were to my daughter."

At that Marcus' eyes widened for a split second before regaining composure.

Dear God...She told her mother?!

"Umm..." Was all he could manage to get out before Marta interrupted.

"Don't go acting all shy. Lila was a grown woman and so am I. Didn't do nothing I haven't done."

Marcus had no idea what to say, from the little Lila had said to him about her mother he'd picture a conservative Christian woman, he was definitely getting a different impression now.

"So you want to know where Lila is buried?"

Marcus swallowed hard before responding, "Yes ma'am."

Marta walked over to a small table and opened a drawer. She pulled out a small piece of paper and a pencil and scribbled something down.

Once she was done she walked back over with the paper in hand.

"I can give you Lila's address, but you have to promise me something."

Marcus wasn't sure what he could promise her but he waited for her ultimatum.

"Come back here when you're done. For dinner."

He had no idea what to say. What on earth could they have to talk about? The little she probably knew about him was in no way dinner appropriate, especially in front of her son who clearly disliked him.

"Umm sure I guess."

"Good." Marta handed over the paper and gave him a genuine smile before walking to the door to let him out.

"She's only about 15-20 minutes away so I'll give you an hour. Dinner will be ready by then."

Marcus panicked a little while stepping out onto the front porch steps, he had to think of an excuse to back out. He turned back to the front door to give her a lie off the top of his head but Marta had all but slammed the door in his face. He had a feeling she was getting rid of him before he could change his mind.

Marcus groaned loudly. This was going to be painful to say the least.

He looked down at the paper she had handed him.

That's not far at all. I guess I can be back in an hour.

With that he got in his truck and rode off to see Lila.

** ** ** ** **

As promised by Marta the ride only took about 20 minutes.

He pulled up to the front entrance of the cemetery and suddenly felt nervous. He never liked cemeteries.

The entrance alone creeped him out and it was even creepier as the sun was setting.

There was a large stone sign that hung above a black iron gate that read;

GARDEN OF EDEN: WHERE OUR LOVED ONES WALK FOREVER.

Marcus straightened himself up and slowly pressed the gas to let himself in.

He drove slowly looking for a sign of a recent burial.

Not too far off he saw it.

A large black stone marker with name Burke carved into it.

A family plot.

Marcus parked the truck, withdrew the keys from the ignition, and stepped out.

The night air was freezing, the last time he'd been out this late with out a jacket was with...her.

Marcus felt sadness wash over him as he finally realized where he was, and what he was doing.

He was saying goodbye.

He shoved his hands in his jeans and sauntered over.

It wasn't hard to find. The soil hadn't ever settled yet. It reminded him how recent everything was. How it wasn't that long ago that they'd been in the back of his truck laughing.

He approached her headstone and read the words.

Lila Llewllyn Burke

1989-2015

Daughter, Sister, Friend

"Another Star to Light Our Night"

Marcus wasn't sure what to do now. He'd never spoken to someone who wasn't there before.

He supposed he'd say what exactly was on his mind.

"Lila...I..um, have no idea how to do this." He switched feet awkwardly before continuing,

"This still doesn't feel real. I mean I just saw you, you were just with me."

Off to a grand start idiot.

"Jesus Christ I wanted to see you and now I have no idea what to say."

Marcus decided to be honest.

"I'm not sure if I'm allowed to miss you. I know we didn't really know each other that well and I guess I'm sorry for that."

That actually felt good to say out loud.

"I met your mom and your brother today. Pretty sure your brother doesn't like me, so that's cool. Your mother? Well I don't know. She wants me to come to dinner tonight. I have no idea what she wants to talk to me about and to be 100% honest I'm scared as hell. Apparently she knows about me. Good Lord Lila, why on earth would you tell your mom about me? I mean what exactly do I say to her? Sorry for your loss and sorry for repeatedly having sex with your daughter! I'm sure your seven-foot-tall brother would find that hilarious!"

Marcus stopped. He'd almost forgotten she wasn't there. It almost felt like someone was actually listening to him rant. The cold was making its way to his bones and he realized just how tight he was holding his body for warmth.

"I better go. She gave me an hour til dinner."

He remembered the awkwardness of their goodbyes after each time they'd had sex and the feeling returned. It was a little comforting.

"I'll come back some time. I'd like to...talk some more I guess."

Marcus then turned and began to walk back to his truck.

The silence of the cemetery was eerie and he almost wanted to run the rest of the way.

Finally, he made it to the car door and just as he reached out to put his hand on the latch his body was greeted with a warm breeze, way too warm for winter.

But there was something even more strange he'd noticed.

The breeze was a strong one, and yet, somehow not strong enough to move a single tree.

He looked around and saw that not a single tree branch swayed, not a single leaf budged.

It was as if he alone felt the warm wind passing by.

Then just as quickly as it came, the breeze was gone.

The cemetery returned to it's cold and quiet environment.

What the hell was that about?

Marcus looked around once more before finally opening the car door and stepping in.

He sat for a minute wondering if it had even happened. Maybe he had just imagined it.

Yea, that's all. Just in my head.

He knew he was lying to himself but he was perfectly fine with that explanation, so he went with it.

Marcus started the truck and made his way back to Marta's house.

** ** ** ** **

Marta opened the door to greet Marcus, he looked as if he'd been deep in thought prior to opening the door but she decided against asking.

She showed him the way to the dining room and sat him down before excusing herself back to the kitchen.

Marcus looked over the table before choosing a place to sit. He pulled out a chair and sat quietly.

Looking around the room he saw pictures of Lila and her family. A photo hung on the wall of Lila at graduation with her arms wrapped around her brother's neck and him holding her up in the air. A frame next to it was a picture of Lila at what he assumed was her prom. She had dressed in a poufy one strap red dress.

He smiled at the picture.

His eyes kept skimming different family memories before Darren came in carrying a steaming glass dish with aluminum foil on it and his mother trailing behind him.

"Hot out of the oven," Marta said with a smile, "I hope you like chicken parmesan, it was Lila's favorite. I don't know why but I just had the urge to make it tonight."

Marta and Darren sat down at the table with Marcus.

Darren set the hot dish on the table in front of them and removed the aluminum foil.

Marcus noticed that Darren was wearing floral printed over mitts on his hands, it took everything in him not to smirk at them. Had the two men been friendlier Marcus might have teased him a bit.

"Alright," Marta said before extending her hand towards his, gesturing for him to take it.

Marcus reached his hand out and took Marta's then he saw Marta give the same signal to Darren to take hers. There was a silent but awkward exchange between the two men that left them with the understanding that they would not be holding hands.

Marta and Darren lowered their heads and Marcus followed their example.

Darren spoke, "Dear Lord, thank you for this food we are about to receive and for blessing us with another day of life. We give thanks for each and everyone of our blessing Lord. Amen."

Marcus opened his eyes just in time to see Marta shake Darren's hand and gesture to Marcus.

Darren let out a huff before reluctantly continuing, "And thank you for out dinner guest. Amen."

The three opened their eyes and released hands before taking their seats.

"Guests first." Marta said as she began to pour iced tea into their glasses.

"Thank you."

Marcus grabbed a serving spoon and fork and made his plate.

He waited patiently as his hosts prepared their own plates before he began eating.

Dinner was quiet, the only sounds you could hear were of forks clanging and scraping against plates and the slurping of sweet tea.

Marcus had no question as to why this was Lila's favorite dinner, her mother was an excellent cook.

Marcus open his mouth to tell her just that but Darren cut him off.

"How did you say you knew my sister?"

Marcus could feel his face go read.

He began to stammer trying to think of a response when Marta came to his rescue.

"Hush Darren, your sister was a grown woman with a private life. You didn't and still don't have to know everything."

Darren grew silent but not without shooting Marcus a cold look.

They finished their dinner in silence with Marta giving Marcus the occasional warm smile. He didn't know why but he was actually comfortable around her, if it hadn't been for Darren's clear dislike of him Marcus would have felt welcomed in the home.

After they had finished dinner Marta stood and asked Darren to clean and and do dishes.

She then turned to Marcus, "Follow me dear."

Marcus scrunched his face in confusion but did as he was told.

Marta led him through the living room to a staircase and started up them.

Marcus wasn't sure if he should follow, as awkwardly nice as the whole evening had been he was still a stranger to them.

Marta stopped in the middle of the staircase, as if sensing his hesitation.

"Come on Mr. Marcus, I won't continue to take up too much of your time. I only have a favor to ask you."

A favor?

Marcus nodded and followed her the rest of the way up.

When the reached the top of the stairs Marta flipped a switch that brightened the hallway in front of them and walked over to a closed door.

She placed her hand on the doorknob but rather than turn it she looked back at Marcus once again.

"I came in here after I was told...about the accident." Marta spoke as if she were talking to a ghost, "I just sat on her bed. Mind you she hasn't lived here in eight years but I always kept her room in case she need a place to stay, even just for a night. I suppose I could change it now...she won't be coming back for anything like she sometimes did. But I..."

Marta's voice broke as she shed a few quiet tears.

Marcus wanted to reach out and comfort her but he wasn't sure it would be welcomed.

Marta patted her eyes with her sleeve, turned back towards the door, and opened it.

Marcus followed her into the room and flipped the switch next to the doorway.

Her bedroom. Her childhood bedroom.

If he didn't feel like he'd invaded Lila's personal life before, he sure did now.

He looked around the room and took it in.

The tan walls with a wide gold strip going around the middle of the room.

A huge dark wood bed with a big white comforter draped over it.

There was a matching wood dresser across the room covered in pictures and trophies.

He walked over to get a closer look at them.

Soccer championships, tennis matches, a few dance trophies.

I really knew nothing about her. He thought sadly.

There were pictures of her when she was younger. Before he knew her.

One of her posing in a jersey with her foot propped on a soccer ball.

There was one of her posing in a black taffeta dress covered in hot pink polka dots. She had her arms wrapped around a boy's neck and his arms were around her waste. The two off the cheesed at the camera. The black glossy frame was inscribed with the words; PROM 2007.

Marcus had been so engrossed in Lila's bedroom he hadn't noticed Marta go into the closet and pull out a large box.

When he heard shuffling from behind he saw her placing it on the bed and look up at him with a weak smile.

"What's this?" He asked.

"This..." Marta thought a moment, "is Lila. It's a good collection of everything that made my daughter her."

He looked at the box, almost afraid of it. Did he even want to know what was inside of it?

Marta watched Marcus watch the box and she knew it made him nervous, but she didn't care. He needed this.

"You knew my Daughter Marcus," She said, pulling him out of his thoughts, "but you didn't know her as well as you should have. I want you to take this, get to know her, learn about her."

Marcus had no idea what to say.

Is she crazy?

She was trying to give her dead daughter's belongings to a complete stranger.

"I can't take this from you, it would'nt feel right. I appreci-" Marta cut him off.

"I imagine that when you found out the Lila was dead you were sure how to feel. Should I grieve or not? Yu wanted to but probably didn't think you had the right. You didn't, you still don't."

Marcus felt like a child being scolded by a parent for touching something he had no business touching.

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