12,Take Me To Church
I stood facing the door.
Nervous was an understatement. Leading up to this moment, I didn't plan out anything to say because I was sure that the words were just going to sort of...fall out of me. But I guess not.
This morning I woke up and the first thing I did was leave the house and go to Mr. Keller's house. Whoever he might be to my mother. My theory is, my mom maybe wanted a second opinion on Kylie's death. But then again, why be oh so secretive about it all?
The door finally opened up and a mild mannered man stood in front of me. I'm guessing this is him
"Mr. Keller?", I stutter.
"Yes. May I help you?", he asks me. I'm kind of surprised he doesn't know who I am. I mean, this is a town of barely 3000 people and word spreads very quickly.
"Yes...uh... I was hoping to talk to you for a while? Maybe ask you a few questions", I say calmly, "My name is Kelsie Burklin. My uh...my older sister Kylie Burklin died a while ago and.. I'm hoping you know something about it"
The second I mentioned Kylie's name, his face went pale. He's hiding something. But what?
"Sorry. I can't help you", he says abruptly and almost shuts the door in my face. Before he could, a familiar face comes up and stops him, curious as to whose at the door. I know I've seen her before, I just can't tell where from
"Go get ready for church. It's nothing", he says and the door opens wider. This time, it's the action of the familiar face. I remember now, she's one of Kiara's friends. She was at that lame party.
"Kelsie? I thought I heard your voice", she says
"Hi", I smile. Trying desperately to remember her name.
"What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be at church? Your family goes pretty early", she smiles back
"Yeah, I'm meeting them there", I cut the conversation short. "So anyway, I came to talk to Mr. Keller...who I'm guessing is your dad?"
"Yep. Ashley Keller. In the flesh"
Oh right! That's her name. Ashley.
*Check the 'cast' chapter for a picture of Ashley*
"Well, my dad probably won't want to talk right now. Maybe after church. You should stop by", she says
"How are you getting there? We can give you a ride", she offers. 'Why not', I think to myself then accept her offer and enter her house.
"My dad's almost ready. We'll leave in a few minutes.", she tells me, "we can go wait in my room"
The room contained a small bed, neatly made, two straight-backed chairs, a lampshade, a bureau, without any mirror, and a small table. There were no drapery curtains at the windows, no pictures on the wall. Her wallpaper was a nightmare of frills and flowers with bright pink and orange everywhere. On the beside table sat a doily and a lamp that could have just leapt out of the nineteen forties or something.
She sat at her dressing mirror and blended in more concealer onto her already flawlessly done face.
I analyzed her table. There was a pink tin filled with brushes, a shear box full of jewelry, an Adam Sandler bobble head and...what's this? A framed picture of her and...Kylie.
"You and Kylie were close?"
She paused her blending and looked at the picture. "Yeah actually. Throughout last summer she was really like, friendlier to me. She helped me out with something and... I basically owed her my entire reputation. She was one of the sweetest people I ever met."
I smiled. "What did she help you with?", I ask
Before she could get out a word, her mom called out for her. Letting her know it was time to leave.
"Uh...we gotta go. She gets very mad, very quickly", Ashley said and stood up
"Sure", I complied. I figured it wasn't a big deal. I'm going to come back here after church so, we'll just put a pin in this conversation for now.
When we arrive at the old church everything is almost like looking at an old photograph. I'll be honest, I haven't entered the house of God in ages. My father was always the more religious one and when he and mom divorced, going to church just never really came up. The building was as rustic as I remembered from being a kid. It was beautiful with old stone walls and stained glass. Inside were decaying benches.
Moving into the passage, the dominant smell of lit candles and the more solidly Anglican smell of musty prayer books lingered.
I looked towards the front as I sat down next to Ashley in the back row. All the kids seemed to be sitting down there. Kiara stood in the choir and her mom on the other hand, conducted in a peach hat. My father, Kevin, sat in the front row, next to a bunch of other men.
The service was quaint and uplifting. The worship was...magical in it's own right. Between the praising and the prayer, I broke down and found myself dropped to my knees as if the last breath had been pulled from my lungs.
"Look within yourself to find God.", the pastor said. She spoke strong and steady but still very comfortingly.
The words played in my head but all I could think was, there is no God here. There is no God in me. There's only a lost, broken soul. A place where shatters of glass are added to the coal. But yet she tells me to look deep down here, in the place that harbors the secrets that never left my lips. The place that holds anger and despise against the world.
All the voices inside my head began to spin. "You can't just raise your hands and say a prayer, where was this God when you called out in need of a miracle? When they looked at you with pity? When he took your sisters life?" the thought whispered.
My mind went numb and I rushed out of the chapel. I couldn't bare it. It was just...too much.
"What are you doing out here?", a voice came up from the corner of the chapel. I recognized it immediately.
"I should ask you the same question Noah", I sit down on one of the benches outside
"Pastor Wendy can be a-bit too much for me to handle sometimes. I needed some air", he said, "what about you?"
"...I haven't been to church in a while. I mean, I still pray or whatever just, it gets harder each day"
"You are only human. What matters is that you put in some true effort. God sees that kind of stuff"
He sits next to me and looks me in my eyes.
No! I have a boyfriend!
"You wouldn't last a day in Yellow Oak", I joke, trying to distract myself from falling in love with this kid.
"I actually have never been there"
"What? How come?"
"I just...do not like to travel"
We stay outside and talk for the rest of the sermon and I can't help but feel like there's some sort of unsettling pattern going on here with Noah. Either he's just a really friendly guy, or he has a thing for sisters.
"I'd rather not discuss your sister's death", Mr Keller said. He and I were now seated in the living room, drinking some tea that his wife brewed for us to drink while we chat. "What do you even want to know?"
"I know that you have something to do with her autopsy. I recently found the fake one and I'm hoping maybe you know where the real one is, or even what it says"
"You investigate death causes", I say, "plus, my mother asked to see you. Why would she? After the death of my sister? It just doesn't add up"
".....during the funeral, your mother made me swear that our business would stay our business. I can't answer anything unless I have your mothers permission. Sorry"
A dead end. Now what? He's clearly not gonna break. Maybe I should just confront my mom. What's the worst that could happen?
"I understand", I groan, "Thanks for your time Mr. Keller"
I walk out of the house and head on back to the house. When I get there my mom's already parked outside waiting for me. I honestly couldn't be happier to see her.
"Hey honey!", she smiles, "I have a meeting to get to so hurry up packing"
I nod and climb up to my room to grab the backpack where I keep the diary. Kiara and Ashley are seated in the living room when I come back down.
"See ya next week Kelsie", Kiara says
"You too", I reply
"Ash! Don't be rude!", I hear Kiara whisper
"Bye Kelsie", Ashley says to me and I walk out of the house then get into the car.
When I'm in the car, all I can think about is how I'm going to be able to get the information I need out of my mom. On top of that, I still need to solve the mystery about Camp and decide if there's anything important about it, I still don't know who Mr. M is, I still don't know what Kylie helped Ashley with and I still don't know who Ash is.
What if I'm going about it all wrong? What if Ash is someone in Yellow Oak? I mean, there would be no way to tell. What if Ash is already dead? Like Kylie.
What if Ash isn't even a guy. I mean, I sort of just assumed from the name. What if Ash is actually a girl? What if Ash isn't even a name per say. What if it's just a shortcut or a nickname for—
"Ashley!", I say out loud
"What?", my mom asks me
"Nothing. I just....I just thought of something"
Oh my Gosh. Did Ashley Keller have something to do with my sisters death?