It rained heavily on the day of the funeral. The ground became soggy, and with every step she took, mud clings to her shoes.
Yuria prayed until her parents’ coffin went to the cemetery. She prayed, prayed, prayed, prayed again, and prayed over and over. But none of those numerous prayers have been fulfilled.
“Now let me ask you. Do you have any last words for them?”
When the coffin workers are told to say goodbye, the girl realizes that she can never go back to the past. When she returns home, her parents’ room will be empty, there will be no one to kiss her on the cheek before school, there will only be food for two at mealtime, and no one will buy a present for her on the way home. She had no choice but to accept that miserable and terrifying reality.
Yuria fell on her parents’ coffin and cried. The black umbrella she was wearing is on the floor. The thin rain made everything wet, making it impossible to tell what was tears and what was rain. Everyone cried. The sky, the buildings, the stones, the people… But Layla didn’t cry.
“… It’s all wet, you will catch a cold.”
Wearing a black umbrella, her face was dry.
“Why, why don’t you cry? Mom and Dad died… Aren’t you sad?”
Layla tilted her umbrella toward Yuria and said calmly.
“It’s sad, but you can’t stop crying. And I don’t deserve to cry…”
“What do you mean…?”
Sometimes Yuria couldn’t understand Layla’s words. I don’t even know exactly where the gaze that seems to be looking far away. Yuria said that Layla was the person she loved the most and closest to, but at the same time she was the most unknown person.
“… I’m sorry, Yuria.”
It’s just that Yuria can’t stop crying… It felt strangely sad to see Layla simply handing out an apology without meaning, so she cried more than she did before. Layla sat down in the seat and hugged Yuria.
After that, they held each other’s hands and buried the coffin in the ground and watched the process of the soil covering it. Yuria sighed and wiped her tears. Her eyes were swollen, and her nose and cheeks were blushing red. Emily watched the scene from a distance and led the sister to the church.
Naturally, the funeral was also attended by Laisha’s longtime friend, Emily. She was the maid of the duke and was always busy. But sometimes she would take a vacation and she would come down to the estate of Count Nigor.
Only to see Laisha. When Laisha and Emily met, they talked about their recent status, parenting, and letters they exchanged when they were apart. After that, she played with the sister. Today, she came down after a week’s leave to pay tribute to Laisha and look after the sisters. Not only that, but she paid all the funeral expenses.
So Emily was a good person.
She thought she was a good person, Yuria was reluctant to see her. It was the memory of the night her father didn’t return until dawn for work and her mother fell asleep on the sofa in the living room, exhausted from talking to her friend. That day, she saw Yuria secretly kissing Laisha as she was sleeping. She may have misunderstood her.
– … Yuria… did you see…?
However, Yuria still remembered the awkwardness when their eyes met, the strange air.
Yuria held Layla’s hand tightly and looked up at Emily, who was sitting next to me awkwardly. Her eyes were dyed red. The handkerchief in her grip was wet and fluttering from her grip.
After the funeral, the people left.
The church, with only three people left, was so quiet that you could hear the rain hitting the windows. The rain got stronger as time passed. So the sound of dripping was heard over and over again. The black shadow that engulfed the inside of the church crouched under the faint light coming through the stained glass. Emily stared blankly at the statue of an angel in the cathedral, Yuria looked at Emily, and Layla looked at Yuria.
The silence was spilled. Emily closed her eyes slightly in the silence and then opened her eyes.
“Layla, Yuria… Would you like to live with me?”
Tears welled up in Emily’s eyes.
“I can’t fully be your mother, but… I want to cherish and love you as much as Laisha and Martin who have gone away.”
Tears ran down her jawline.
“Let’s go to the duchy together. And become family with me.”
Emily’s large hand covered Yuria’s smaller one. Her eyes met hers and they were wet. Sadness, emptiness, anger… And her love for her mother, whom she didn’t want to notice, combined with her eyes. For a moment, Yuria felt disgust.
This person is so…
“No, I don’t want to.”
At that moment, Layla quickly pulled out Yuria’s hand that Emily was holding. It’s like reading her sister’s mind. Emily opened her eyes wide in surprise. She slowly retrieved her hand and wiped the tears with the handkerchief. And she smiled in embarrassment.
“… I’m sorry. It seems I’ve gone too far to be a family…? What I want to say is that I want to be your protector. Let’s go to the Duchy….”
“Thank you for your words, but I don’t want to go to the Duchy. We prefer to live in the Countess of Nigor.”
“Then you’re going to stay alone?”
“Yes. I think so.”
“That… That’s reckless. Wouldn’t it be too difficult to live with only young children? Besides, you have no relatives. If you don’t have someone to take care of you, you’ll have to go to an orphanage.”
That was right. Her father, Martin, was an orphan, and his mother, Laisha, lost her parents early and she’s only daughter.
“It’s okay. Because we’ve already figured out a way for the two of us to get along.”
“Layla, no matter how mature you are, you are only a fifteen-year-old child… no no… Guess I’m too early. It’s late, so let’s go home first.”
Emily clenched the handkerchief and stood up. Walking a few steps forward, she stopped and waited for her sister. As she approached her, Yuria turned her back and looked at Layla, who stood up from her seat and didn’t move.
‘Why did you refuse? As Aunt Emily said, we don’t have relatives to look after us, and we don’t have grandparents. If she were the usual Layla, I think she would have definitely accepted it. What are you thinking…?’
Yuria knew that it was much better to have a guardian than to be with young children. Layla’s face was engulfed in the shadows, so there was no expression on her face. Even if you can see the expression, can you understand the inside? I do not know. I do not know. I can’t understand.
‘… But it’s Layla. There must be a reason why she turned down Aunt Emily’s offer.’
After that, Emily took great care of the sisters until the end of the vacation. On the last day, when she once again offered to live with her, Layla flatly refused. At that time, she didn’t ask Yuria’s opinion. She never asked if she wanted to rise in the duchy, or how she felt about hanging out with aunt Emily. I just made a request like a compulsion to do what I said. But what’s the matter? Layla’s opinion was Yuria’s opinion, and Yuria always thought that her sister was right, and she thought that there must be some reason for that rejection, so there was no problem with her.
“I am still worried. Living with only two young children… If you’re having a hard time, write me a letter anytime. Then I’ll come pick you up anytime.”
So Emily left.
Despite her concerns, the two got along really well. Layla did her chores very well, she was seasoned enough to haggle with the merchants at the market, and she was mature enough to soothe weeping Yuria, thinking of her parents from time to time. Because. Yeah, how grown-up you were… Yuria had never seen her cry. Just as adults don’t shed tears in front of children.
Also, the neighbors who felt pity for the sisters who lost their parents at a young age showed kindness to them, and there was a legacy that was neither too small nor too small. She said that Emily would send money, clothes and food from time to time, so they didn’t have a hard time. Of course, the kindness of neighbors is temporary, and the legacy fades away over time. Still, if there was one thing that didn’t change, it was Emily’s heart and devotion.
Despite multiple rejections, she kept sending letters asking if we would come to the Duchy. She sent her greetings and gifts from time to time, even after she refused to make such an offer any more. She also came down to the Nigor estates where she, very, very rarely, took vacations. Gradually, the uneasiness of Yuria’s mind disappeared. A feeling of gratitude grew in her empty place.
As they grew older, the sisters found decent jobs and made money. So Yuria worked as a clerk in a clothing store, and Layla worked as a teacher’s assistant at school during the day and went to the bookstore in the evening to work. Those days were added one by one and became a daily routine.
Suddenly, it becomes natural to prepare a meal for two people, it becomes natural to go to my parents’ graveyard to offer flowers, and quiet rather than bustle becomes the atmosphere of the house, and answering Emily’s letters becomes more enjoyable.
Then one day, the owner of the estate, Countess Nigor, died suddenly of a heart attack.