I jogged up the lit porch steps and into the house. It was about 10:00 pm so I figured Rose was still up, “I’m home!” I sung happily as I stepped through the front door, swinging it shut behind me. “Rose?” I called out, my voice echoing through the rooms.

“I’m in here dear,” said a soft voice.
“Rose? Rose are you al-” I stopped as I turned the corner into the living room. Rose sat on the couch with red, teary eyes and crumpled tissues tossed carelessly around her, “Rose! What happened? What’s wrong?” I ran to her side.

Rose was silent, it was obvious that she was holding back more than just tears, “Rose, what- is- wrong?” I asked her sternly.

“C-come here darling,” she reached out, attempting to draw me closer to her, but I took a step back.
“Rose, tell me what’s wrong,” my heart began to beat faster, tears already beginning to build in my eyes. Thousands of different scenarios began to run through my head, but none prepared me for what I heard next.

“Y-your mother…” Rose began, sobbing harder now.
“My mother… Rose! What happened to her?” I was on the verge of hysterics.
“She was- early this morning, about 2 am… sh-she was hit by a d-drunk driver.”

I was stunned, this wasn’t happening, there was no possible way. It had to be a mistake, “No…” I said softly at first, reality slowly settling in, “NO! Sh-she’s not… no, no, no, no, no!” Rose reached out for me but I turned quickly away, tripping on a small end table and falling to the ground. My body was shaking violently; my mind spun making me dizzy as I ran out of the room.

“Rayne!” Rose yelled after me, her voice shaky and pained, “Rayne, wait! Let me-” Rose’s voice faded away as I turned out of the room and ran up the stairs.
“This isn’t happening, this isn’t happening, this is NOT HAPPENING,” I screamed, slamming my door shut, “sh-she can’t be dead, sh-she’s not-” my voice gave out, “-mom,” I whispered.

Tears poured down my face like boiling rivers, my heart beating a mile a minute. I saw my easel standing peacefully near my window, a partially painted canvas resting on its shelf.

I screamed, ripping the canvas from its perch and throwing it to the ground; the easel fell over with a crash. I crumpled to the ground, my entire body convulsing violently. I couldn’t loose her, she was all I had; how could she be taken from me?

Thunder crashed loudly from outside, another rainless storm of heat lightning. Slowly I lifted my head. Through the French doors I saw the beach. The ocean rolled and crashed madly, waves towering high and breaking on the shoreline, terrorizing the sand.

“I c-can’t t-take this- anymore,” I whispered, slowly standing up, “I’m n-not going through this again. I don’t want to loose anyone else…”
I went to my bedroom door and locked it. Then, making my way to the porch, I flung the doors open. I couldn’t pull them shut, the wind was too strong, so I left them open, my curtains billowing and papers flying everywhere.

I ran recklessly down the stairwell, tripping on the third step from the bottom and falling again. I made my way to the grassy yard, down the path and out to the beach. Sand whirled around me, cutting into my skin. The sky was a deep, frightening shade of purple. I stood at the edge of the water, just out of reach of the waves. They seemed to scream, “Come! Come out to us! We dare you!”

At first I teased the sea, taking a step back every time it reached out to me. Then without even taking a breath, I dove in, never seeing the little light making its way down the beach toward me.

The waves were strong and icy. My body had gone numb on impact; I let the water carry me under. My legs and arms seemed twisted in all the wrong ways as I was thrown and dragged against the sandy ocean bottom, but I couldn’t feel any pain.

Slowly my lungs began to ache, protesting; I was running out of air. I felt my mind drifting out of consciousness. I let the angry sea claim my body; I was almost at peace with the raging waters. As I drifted off into utter darkness something hard and strong wrapped itself around my waist pulling me off into an unknown direction, then everything went black.

Chapter 1: Three Months Earlier

I woke up to the bright sun burning my eyes as my mom pulled the blinds, “Up and at ‘em; you’ve got a long day ahead of you,” she spoke without sympathy as she pulled my comforter off me, the cool air from the AC making my skin crawl and sending my legs up to my chest, now wrapped in a ball on my soft mattress.

I groaned as I looked at my alarm clock, “Mom! It’s like, 7:00 in the MORNING!”

“Rayne! Did you forget your train leaves at 9:30? With the time it takes you to get ready in the morning, 7:00 is a gift. We’ll be lucky if we get you there just on time!” she left my room, her footsteps fading off down the spiral stairs of our apartment in Boston.

The train, I remembered, envying those few moments blinded by sleep during which I’d forgotten. My mom was sending me to Long Island to visit my aunt Rose for the summer. Rose was actually my great aunt, 60 years old and deteriorating by the second. My mom had insisted I spend the summer helping her out. I’d only met her once, when I was five, and I didn’t remember what she was like other than a general idea of physical appearance. My mother insisted she was a sweet old woman, as if that alone would make spending my summer with some grandmother ok, or even tolerable. It didn’t matter how “sweet” or “kind” she was, it didn’t change the fact that she was 60 years old!

I rolled out of bed and over to my mirror. My black hair was a mess, knotted indignantly, not wanting me to look even slightly presentable. My bright green eyes were visibly tired. I straightened out my black tank top that had gotten twisted as I tossed and turned last night. I remembered I’d dreamed about a bunch of different things, missing my train and running down the tracks after it, getting in a train crash and waking up at three a.m. just before the part where I die, all that fun morbid stuff you dream about when you’re really stressed or whatever.

I looked around my room. Everything was neat minus the sheets on my bed and my polka-dot comforter on the floor. Even my duffle bag was all packed up and ready by the stairwell.

The sun shone through the window, reflecting off the bright yellow of three of my walls and the swirls of color that created the mural I’d painted on the farthest wall. I shielded my eyes as I looked out my window to the already crowded street below. Then I began to get ready.

“And now comes the fun part,” I sighed to myself as I headed to the bathroom to get ready for the long day I had ahead of me.

*To read more order The Colors of Rayne today!*
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