LIGHTNING FLASHED, AND soon thunder broke out of the sky. Rain had been pouring down all day in fact, which was strange because it was the beginning of September, the temperature just started to cool in northern Minnesota as it prepared to get out of the rainy season. Though the stormy weather was just as well, since it spoke sadness for the Skala family on this particular day and — even just a little — shared their grief in the sense that heaven was weeping for their loss too.

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay the night?” Mrs. Skala asked her son at the front step of their old farmhouse, a handkerchief crinkled in her hand.

“You know I want to, Ma. It’s just I got work tomorrow which I can’t miss,” Daniel, extending an umbrella above him and his wife, enunciated loudly to make himself heard through the thick rain.

Mrs. Skala turned to talk to her daughter-in-law. “Thank you for coming all this way, Allie. I know you haven’t been feeling well yourself.”

“It’s okay, Mrs. Skala. I’m glad to be here for the family —”

“Let them go already! They haven’t got all day to drive back!” yelled Mr. Skala from the doorway.

“We should get going, Ma.”

Mrs. Skala nodded. “Drive slowly. Get there late, but get there.”

6 p.m., the sky was already pitch black when the two finally went on home. This by no means indicated the end of Daniel’s sorrow. As no one could bring back the dead from their graves, those alive who loved them only continued to suffer. It was a sad fact he had come to realize since the passing of his stepsister — Megan.

Earlier in the week, the police discovered her corpse lying bare in a tub of bloody water at her apartment. A knife was secured in her hand. She had committed suicide, or at least believed by the officials to have been the case. The hand-written note found on her nightstand just confirmed it. Due to sufficient evidence to determine the cause and manner of her death, an autopsy was adjudicated unnecessary, and her parents agreed.

Though a small town girl she might be, Megan was a strong-willed and courageous soul. Her constructive quality should have been enough to see her through the toughest time, at least everyone who knew her personally thought so. Which was why none of her friends or former social work colleagues, and least of all Daniel, would have predicted such a pathetic resolution she turned to just ten months following her move to the Twin Cities. Perhaps something bad happened on her last days, they would guess, something depriving her of all hope drove her to the end of her road… The thing was, nobody really knew the real reason she chose to end her life so brutally, but most had come to accept it was depression that took her.

After a small, private memorial service at church this morning, and later a reception at the funeral home, she was transported for the burial that followed to the family’s farm where a headstone was erected next to her mother’s, praising her as “One of the Most Kindhearted Persons You’d Ever Meet.” The sky that had been crying started to cry harder then. In the rain, her parents wailed. Their moans, at first low and to themselves, became vehement as they watched her casket being lowered into the ground. Conversely, Daniel just stood looking unusually calm, not shedding a single tear.

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