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Cori sighed soflty as she glanced over to look at Travis. [b "Might as well."] she whispered. She looked over at Mrs Chamberlin and chuckled. [b "Remember that time Momma and Daddy were working on the ranch, and I got on their nerves sooo much that they just sent me down to your farm. I wanted to go swimming in the pond, but Mr. Chamberlin had other ideas. He forced me and Travis to hangout. Sent us to the next town over for something, I can't even remember what it was anymore."]
She looked up at Travis and grinned. [b "It was an hour and half drive there and back."] she said [b "I think it was a part for the tractor or something. That's a day I'll never forget."] she said. [b "That was the day that I realized just what the boy next door really was."]
His feelings he knew had never died for Cori. Sure he had TRIED to move on and to forget the hurt but it had bot worked. None of those relationships lasted long after her. Not that he could or wpuld ever admit it fully. Hell for all he knew she could have moved on. Might even be engaged or something. The fact that he still loved her now was constantly hell and ate at him.
When his mother said what she said and had hugged Cori and her parents, Travis was almost frozen in fear. What was the wretched woman up to? She KNEW that he and Cori had a A LONG history. She and his father had even been a part of it. So what kind of stories was she even thinking that they be telling in a time like this?
[b "Mama, what kind of stories? And you know them just as well as anyone does...Do we have to be doin' this?"] He asked as he was trying to get out of it. This would open up a lot he did not want to. A lot that he did not want to be facing.
[i "They are simply memories, Travis. And who better to tell them than those involved? Cori you would be willing, wouldn't you?"] The woman turned to the girl. She KNEW that if she could get one of them.to go along the otjer would. That had always been the case in the past and she figured it would be now.
Cori was silent on the way to the cemetery. It was almost like none of her feelings for Travis had changed, but she wasn't that naïve. That was a lifetime ago. Travis had moved on for all she knew. There was no way she would make a fool of herself again.
Once they arrived, she climbed out of the backseat and walked over to the grave sit. [b "Hi Mrs. Chamberlin."] she whispered as she bent down to return the woman's hug. [b "We wouldn't have missed this for the entire world. I couldn't have stayed away even if I wanted too"] she said.
She froze when she heard Mrs Chamberlin mention story telling. Her frightful eyes met Travis'. What kind of stories? What on earth was this woman trying to do? She stepped back as she seen her own Mother walk up to the two. She wedged herself closer to Travis. [b "What is going on?"
Travis had barely gotten his answer out when Cori had left to find her parents. He honestly hadn't the slightest ifea of what his mother was wanting. But he knew that what she had in mind she had only wanted the four of them for. He had tried to ask the woman, yet she would not give him a direct answer either. When she still gave him nothing, Travis had gotten his daddy's old truck and took the woman to the cemetary to wait for the others.
[i "It was good of you to come. I just wanted to be able for all of us to have our own time to say good-bye... Even share stories that we would not have wanted everyone else hearing."] The woman said with a smile as she did give Cori and her parents a hug.
Travis' eyes met Cori's over his mother's shoulder. It was clear he had NO idea this had been coming. But he gave a weak smile. So his mama really did expect it all to be like old times. Now he wanted to know what stories all would share.
The girl blushed softly when she realized just what Travis had said. [b "I... I guess it's one of my greater qualities."] she mumbled slightly. She really didn't know what she could say or do at this point. [b "I'm gonna go track down my parents and let them know the game plan.. I assume you're gonna drive your Mother?"] she asked. She all but heard him answer before she took off toward the back of the funeral home. She knew she was playing with fire, but it was... exciting?
[b "Momma, Daddy. Mrs. Chamberlin and Travis want us to go to the cemetery with them, and then back to their house for Dinner. I told Travis that I would track you two down. I get the sense that Mrs. Chamberlin wants this next part to be private, as it will be very hard on her.."] she said softly. [b "I'll go get Daddys truck, and I'll meet you out back."]
The young woman before him was still in a sense the girl he had always known. The one who would go out of her way to help someone she cared for. Somehow he had forgotten about just how gentle and sweet she truly had been and always would be. But he had guessed that came from the time apart and the broken heart he was sure the both of them had since all had been said and done. He had not meant his words to be so open and to show what he felt. Or more like he did not want her to hurt in that sense and certaintly not for him.
[b "I know you would. One of the things I have always admired and adored.."] Oh he had not meant to say it. But it had been out before he could think. Well there could not be too much a consequence could there? [b "She wanted all of us to go together...and then possibly back to the house for supper."] Travis really was trying to get his mind back on order and back on track.
Even after all the time she and Travis had spent together, he still seemed to be walking on eggshells around her. Asking how she was, after it was his father that they just attended the service for? Well, that was just Travis. He was always making sure everyone else was okay. He always put everyone else before himself.
Her eyes searched his face as he spoke. The words he spoke ran over and over again in her head. She knew this couldn't have been easy. This was probably one of the most painful things he would ever have to go through. [b "I'm so sorry, Travis.. I wish there was something I could do to take the pain away from you and your mama both.. I- I would in a heartbeat.."] she said softly.
She simply nodded when she heard him say that Mrs Chamberlin wanted her and her parents. [b "Do- Does she want us to go to the cemetery? Do.. Do you?"] she asked. She would do whatever they wanted her to do.
Honestly he had not expected her to answer him. He had been stupid in the way that he had decided to approach her. Hell if she had told him to get lost, Travis would not blame her. What he did not expect was her turning to him and giving the soft smile she did or saying her soft words. But then she had always had a soft spirit and a caring nature. Those had been two of the things that he had loved most about her growing up and when they had been together.
For a moment, dark eyes stayed upon her and he seemd at a loss. He then nodded slowly and looked to the ground. [b "I know that. It's always been easy to be myself and to show my emotions with you..But for my mama and everyone else I just can't. And if I answer you honestly...all of this is just sinkin' in...the fact that I'll never see or hear daddy and all his jokes and advice again..."] He had given a hint of what he felt but not the whole of it. Because even he was not sure what the whole of his emotional state was.
[b "Anyway...mama told me to come and get you. She wanted you and your mama and daddy to stay awhile longer."] The man said and slowly looked up at the young woman before him again.
Cori sat through the service as quiet and still as one could possibly be. She hadn't been so close to Travis in years. She still didn't understand why they were in the reserved family section, it was something that she would bring up to her mother once things had calmed down a little bit.
It was a beautiful service. Everyone was practically moved to tears after the service had ended. She wasn't sure if the Chamberlin's wanted everyone to attend the small service at the burial site, or not. She would do whatever Travis and Mrs. Chamberlin wanted.
She found herself in the back of the room, looking at the pictures that were spread all over. She almost jumped out of her skin when she heard Travis' voice. She smiled softly and nodded. [b "I'm fine.. Ho-How're you holding up, Travis? You know you don't have to have that big strong front, right? Not with me..."]
He could have sworn his mother had set all of this up. Omay well he knew she had the funeral, but the seating ended up the main thing on his mind. Or it did after he found out who he would be sitting next to. As much as he wanted to ask his mother how Cori and her parents ended up in the front with them, the young man knew better. It was his mama's wishes and he had to respect that. Besides, if he were honest sitting next to Cori in its way was a comfort. If he had been sitting beside anyone else he would have probably broken by the end of everything.
When the last words had been said, everyone was able to get up and to mingle or to say their own fairwells. Travis was torn in what he wanted to do. Or rather he wasn't sure if he could bring himself to actually say good-bye. All of it was still sinking in and he was sure for some of the others it was too.
Without being conscious of it, brown eyes skinmed the room and landed on Cori. He then looked to his mother who seemed busy and he sighed. Slowly he went up to the young woman and gave a weak smile. [b "Sorry for ditchin' you with the chairs earlier..."] Stupid! That had not been what he had been trying to say. [b "How are you holdin' up after this..?"] He tried again and stayed still, waiting for an answer.
They sat out the extra chairs in silence. It was like it was family sinking in for Travis, and herself that Mr. Chamberlin was gone. She couldn't believe it. It was kind of like she was loosing her own father in a way.
A little while later, she looked up as Travis was pulled away to help with other tasks. She simply smiled and nodded. She could handle putting out chairs herself. Her father ended up coming over and helping her, while her Mother immediately went to Mrs. Chamberlin's side.
Soon enough she was being ushered to the front of the funeral home. She didn't really understand why she and her own family where in the designated Family area, but she wasn't going to argue with Mrs. Chamberlins wishes. Her Mother and Father were to her right, while Mrs. Chamberlin and Travis were to her left, Travis right beside her.
All of it still hadn't really sunk in for the man. He could still hear his father's voice and hear the man'd laugh. Just the fact that he would never hear them again and never be able to ask for advice again had his chest hurt. Slowly was he beginning to become less numb to the denial but he had to keep strong for his momma's sake. And that was what he was going to do.
He and Cori had gotten most the chairs set out, but towards the last few Travis was pulled away. He was needed to do something else and as he was doing his other task people kept coming up to him and telling him how sorry they were. It wasn't that he did not appreciate it, but it was making the day ten times, no a hundred times harder to face. The last hand that took his shoulder was his mother's and she gave him a weak smile.
"Come on. You can finish with this later. It's time for the funeral." The woman said as she guided him inside the room and to take the seats near Cori and her family.
In all honesty, Cori couldn’t believe that Mr. Chamberlin was actually gone. It was just crazy to try and wrap her head around. It was nothing out of the usual for Mr and Mrs Chamberlin to call her every few months. Mostly to catch up, and make sure that she was doing okay. They always asked if she ever needed anything. It made her sad that she wouldn’t hear his voice anymore.
She somehow snapped out of her thoughts. She glanced down at her watch and realized the funeral was about to start. Travis had been pulled away by people wanting to speak to him, as they were about finished setting up the rest of the chairs. She just smiled and finished the task that Mrs. Chamberlin had given them. Travis was needed elsewhere, she finally understood.
She glanced up when she felt a hand on her shoulder, it was her Father. She smiled softly and went to take her seat with her parents.
Inwardly he was cursing his mother. She was still up to her old tricks, which he had kind of hoped she wouldn't be. If they had not been in the funeral home or about to do his father's funeral, Travis might have asked the woman what was going on in her head. But as it stood, it was not the time or the place for him to want to get that from his momma. So he only gave the woman a small smile and nod before she had left them to get to their assigned tasks.
[b "From what momma said..half the town will be here. I had gotten some of them set up...but we still need more.. So we better get movin'. And Cori...thanks."] He said as he moved over to where the chairs were and took a few before he began to start setting them up. They would have a long way to go.
The man still felt awkward when around her. But slowly little by little it was getting better. And he could not help but wonder what she might be feeling. Travis did want to ask, but couldn't bring himself to. And so continued with the chairs until they had one row left. [b "Think these are enough chairs?"] He asked as he stopped beside her, looking out at the many rows they had set up.
As soon as she walked into the funeral home building, her eyes scanned for the Chamberlins. She seen someone move out of the corner of her eye, she glanced up and smiled slightly when she seen that it was Travis. [b “I was going to stop and get breakfast.. But I didn’t know what anyone would want. If y’all get hungry and need anything, just let me know. Momma said she was bring more food over.”] She knew she was rambling, Funeral Homes made her so nervous.
She smiled when she seen Mrs.Chamberlin. She walked over and softly
hugged the older woman. [b “I’ll do whatever you need to me to do, ma’am. You just let me know. But yes. We can handle setting up the chairs and passing out the programs.”] she said softly. She watched the older woman walk back into the main room. [b “Shall we? I suspect we’ll need a bunch of chairs.”]
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