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From the Beginning

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They sit in his room for what feels like hours but is only really half an hour. Carina has her head resting on Maya’s shoulder. Maya with a protective arm around Carina. Maya sees them standing out in the hallway before Carina is aware that Teddy and Owen are even in their presence. Maya tries to lock eyes with Teddy but Teddy is just standing there, a vacant look on her face. Maya shifts her gaze over to Owen. He shakes his head at Maya.

Maya inhales deeply trying to stave off the impending dread as Teddy and Owen step into the room.

Carina hops to her feet anxious to hear about her brother. “How is he?” She worries her hands together in front of her. Before either one of them speaks she feels Maya’s arms come around her waist from behind.

“I’m sorry, Carina-“ Teddy starts.

“There was too much bleeding. His heart stopped and we tried for forty minutes. He’s gone.” Owen delivers the blow.

Maya is lucky she is strong because Carina turns to dead weight in her arms. The sob that comes from Carina is heartbreaking to hear. Truly heart wrenching.

Tears prick in Maya’s eyes as it hits her too. She hardly knew Andrew but she’s still sad about his death. “Let’s sit down.” She guides Carina back to the chairs, she doesn’t know how much longer she can hold Carina upright.

“When you’re ready, if you want, you can see him, say goodbye.” Owen says.

“Okay, thanks. I think we’ll need some time.” Maya tells him as she gets Carina to sit down.

“I’ll be out here when you’re ready.”

They sit for a while. Carina cries. She doesn’t say anything, just cries. Maya doesn’t know what to say. Eventually she asks Carina if she wants to go see Andrew. Carina nods for Maya.

“Now or do you want to wait a little longer? Get your feet under you a little better.” She’s worried Carina will just collapse on their walk to the OR.

Carina makes it there with a steadying arm from Maya around her waist. Owen lets them in.

“It’s going to be a shock to see him. They cleaned the blood from his face.” Owen folds the white sheet down to reveal Andrew’s face. He then nods at Maya and leaves the room to go stand outside to give them some privacy.

Two stools have been set out for them to sit on. Maya takes the stool further down Andrew’s body with Carina sitting on the one near his head.

Carina leans down and presses her lips to Andrew’s forehead. She doesn’t know what to think or say really. She runs her hand through his hair repeatedly.

Maya sits there with a hand on Carina’s back.

Carina leans down and sort of lays on the bed. Her arm on the bed above Andrew’s head, her head on her own arm. She starts singing in Italian to him. She sings and cries.

Maya tries to keep it together. She does a pretty good job until Carina starts singing. She tries sniffling to prevent from crying but it’s no use. She’s not sure if she’s crying because of Andrew’s death or because of how sad and broken Carina looks and sounds.

“I want to have him cremated.” Carina’s raspy voice breaks the silence that has occupied the room since the singing stopped some time ago.

“Okay.”

Carina sits up. She glances over at Maya for the first time since they’ve been in this room. “I want to take him back to Italy with me.”

This sentence alarms Maya.

They are in the middle of a pandemic, for one. Two, Carina is thinking about going back to Italy. After she said she wasn’t going anywhere. The reason she came to Seattle was because of Andrew. Maybe now that he’s gone, all that changes. There’s no reason to stick around. Maya resigns herself to that being a real possibility. “Okay.” She’ll support Carina in whatever way possible.

“We can’t have a funeral here.”

Maya thinks it’s because Carina will have one when they get back to Italy.

“He didn’t deserve this.” Carina breaks out into tears again.

“Shhh.” Maya rubs her back. “No, he didn’t.”

“What are we going to do?” Carina asks through a sniffle.

“I don’t know.” And Maya doesn’t. She has no idea. “I’ll give you some space.” She stands up. “Let you say goodbye.” She turns to leave the room.

Maya only makes it one step before she hears a very stern voice. “Don’t you dare leave this room.” Maya looks over her shoulder at Carina. And even in her cloudy, tear filled eyes she can the desperation, the need, there.

“Okay, I won’t leave.” Maya sits back down.

“You need to say goodbye too.” Carina tells her gentler, softer.

Maya hums. She thinks about it. She never really got to know Andrew that well, but she liked him. He was generally a good guy, from what Maya could understand. He was much like his sister in the fact that he had a need to help others. That need ultimately cost him his life.

“I didn’t get the opportunity to get to know you as much as any of us probably would have liked, but I’ll miss the opportunity to hear more stories about Carina from you. About you teasing her. Or the ability to hang out and just kick back and relax on a Sunday afternoon or something. I understand that you needed to help. And that was honorable and brave but maybe you should have sat that one out and let the cops handle it. I had a bad feeling and well-“ Maya sighs. She doesn’t know if this is helping any of them. She reaches out and puts a hand over the sheet that covers his torso. “I know you and Carina have a special bond. I know that is broken now. And I have a feeling it’s going to be difficult moving forward. But life goes on. And I want to make a promise to you right now-“ She looks over at Carina. Carina is just watching her with tears streaming down her face as Maya speaks. “I promise to always look after your sister. I promise to do whatever is in my power to make sure she is safe. I promise to try to be what she needs. I promise to love her with everything that I’ve got.”

“Maya.” Carina reaches over and wraps her arms around Maya’s waist, shoving her face into her stomach.

Maya’s hand moves from Andrew’s body to Carina’s shoulder. She holds Carina’s head to her stomach with her other hand. “It’s okay.” Maya whispers.

“No, it’s not.” Carina cries.

“I know. It’s not.” Maya sighs. She’s at a loss for words. She doesn’t know what to say or do to make it better.

Carina pulls herself together after a few minutes. Just enough so she can say some things. “Andrea, you have always been my baby brother.” She speaks in English so Maya can understand. “You will always be my baby brother. This doesn’t change that. I shouldn’t have let you follow that woman. I should have stopped you.” Carina takes a shaky breath. Her not doing something to stop Andrea might always be one of her biggest regrets. She already knows that. “It’s like Maya said. You should have let the cops handle it. But you needed to help. And maybe it is a family curse. But I understand it. I just wish the outcome were different. I’m going to miss you and I’m going to miss teasing you about stuff. I’m sad that this is where it ends, your life. There are so many things you didn’t get to experience yet. So, it’s not fair. Try not to worry too much about me. I’ll be okay.” She looks over at Maya. She’s not sure if she should say anything else. What else is there to say? Carina could say a thousand things and it still wouldn’t be enough.

Maya shrugs. She doesn’t know what Carina wants her to do.

“Goodbye, my brother.” Carina places a soft kiss to his forehead. She stands up and gets one final look at his face. She reaches out and finds Maya’s hand. Carina takes a deep breath. “Okay, let’s go.”

They go out into the hallway and Owen is still standing there. “We can get someone from the funeral home to come and speak with you.”

“It’s the middle of the night.” Maya reminds them.

“We can wait til morning to make any decisions then.” Owen offers. The hospital can keep the body until the funeral home has a chance to speak with Carina about what she wants to do.

“Thanks, Owen.” Carina mumbles.

“Is there anything else that we need to do?” Maya wants to take Carina home.

“No.” He shakes his head. “Not right now. As far as the hospital is concerned you just need to speak to the funeral home so we can release the body to them.”

“Got it.” Maya gives him a tight-lipped smile. “Let’s go home.” She starts guiding Carina to the exit.


They get home and Maya changes and gets ready for bed. She’s not sure how much sleep she’s going to get though. She’s more worried about Carina than anything. Carina is just sitting there on the edge of the bed.

“Hey, why don’t you get ready for bed.” Maya sits next to her.

“I don’t think I could sleep if I wanted to.”

“Okay, but at least get ready. And try. Maybe just lay down. You don’t know, maybe you’ll fall asleep.”

Carina nods. She gets up and goes to the bathroom and washes her face. She feels like a zombie. Numb. Like there’s nothing inside. Like she’s just a shell. She comes back to the bedroom and changes out of her clothes and into a t-shirt and pajama pants.

She’s not sure where Maya went. Probably out in the kitchen. Carina gets into bed and lays under the covers staring up at the ceiling. It’s not uncomfortable but lying in bed feels wrong somehow. She had the same feeling when she found out that Maya cheated on her. Like the bed was too comfortable for the horrible way that she was feeling.

Maya comes back and turns the light out. She gets into bed and snuggles up at Carina’s side. “Close your eyes. Try to get some rest.”

“I can’t. I just see his face.”

Maya doesn’t say anything. She just rubs her hand up and down Carina’s arm.


Maya fell asleep at some point. She wakes up and rubs her eyes. Carina isn’t in bed. Maya stretches and sits up and looks around the room. No sign of her. She gets dressed thinking maybe Carina went to sleep on the couch. Or just lay on the couch as to not disturb Maya in her sleep. She exits the bedroom and there she sees her. Laying on the floor in the kitchen. She stops and looks at Carina for a moment before continuing down the hall.

Maya’s got a list in her head of the things that she needs to do today. Or things that Carina needs to do. Life moves on. And Maya is great at making lists and checking things off the list. So she focuses on that.

They have to talk to the funeral home director. They have to pick up Carina’s car from the transit station. Carina has to decide if she wants to have funeral or not. Maya knows she said she wanted to take Andrew back to Italy with her but she’s not sure what that means exactly. Her brain jumped to Carina up and leaving and taking Andrew to Italy and never returning. But thinking on it more, Maya knows that’s probably not the case, it was just the way Carina worded the sentence or her grief talking. She’s not going to worry about that now. Maya’s first focus is on Carina and making sure she eats and sleeps and that she talks to the funeral director.

Those three things take priority. Everything else comes second.

The funeral director takes the ball right out of her hands when he calls Carina’s phone just after 10 am. Maya answers the phone. “Hello, Carina’s phone. This is Maya speaking.”

“Ah, hello.” The director isn’t caught off guard by this greeting at all. He often finds other people answering a call then who he is looking for. A common thing in dealing with people who are grieving. “Is Ms. DeLuca available? I got a call from the hospital about Andrew DeLuca.”

“Yes. Just a minute.” Maya takes the phone from her ear. “Carina. The funeral director is on the phone. You have to talk to him.”

Carina has moved to laying on the rug on the living room floor. She holds her hand up for the phone. Maya hands the phone over and goes back into the kitchen.

“Hello.” Carina’s voice is rough, scratchy.

“Hello, Ms. DeLuca. I’m sorry about the loss of your brother.”

“Thank you.”

“And I know it’s a difficult time, but I need your permission to take the body from the hospital and bring it to the funeral home. There is some paperwork that needs to be signed as well.”

Carina sighs. “Do I have to do it today?”

“Well, the sooner the better. Then we can start on funeral arrangements.”

“I don’t know if I want to have a funeral.” Carina says.

Maya’s ears perk up at that.

The funeral director tells her that’s fine and that she doesn’t have to decide today but that he needs to know what to do with Andrew’s body.

Carina hangs up the call. “We have to go to the funeral home.”

“Okay.” Maya comes back into the living room. “When do you want to do that?”

“Now.” Carina pushes herself into a seated position and then to her feet.

Maya nods. She waits for Carina to put shoes on and then they are out the door. “How are we getting there? We can take my car. Your car is still at the transit station.”

“Okay.”

They go to the car and Maya starts driving. Carina gave her the address. “Maybe we can stop somewhere on the way back for some breakfast.”

“It’s nearly lunchtime, Maya.” Carina snaps.

“Or lunch.” She doesn’t care what meal it is as long as she gets Carina to eat something. The pastries she bought last night at the café went untouched. Maya doesn’t even know what happened to them. She just hopes that someone ate them at the hospital and didn’t just throw them away.

Maya had peanut butter on toast for breakfast this morning but that was all. She asked Carina if she was hungry, and she just said no.

The trip to the funeral home doesn’t go as bad as Maya would have thought. The vacant stare on Carina’s face sort of scares her though. She answers all of the funeral director’s questions except the one about actually having a funeral.

“Did you want to pick something up to eat?”

“I’m not hungry.”

“But you have to eat.”

“Soup.”

“Soup it is, my love.” Maya drives them to get soup and then back to the apartment. She gets Carina to have a little soup and then cleans up and puts the leftovers away.

Carina goes into the shower. She doesn’t want to cry anymore. She doesn’t want to sleep but she knows she needs sleep. The bed is too soft and too comfortable. So that’s not an option.

So, she sits in the corner of the shower, her knees to her chest, her head against the shower wall to see if that well help.

Maya comes in and suggests screaming but she can’t scream either. Nothing works or is helping right now. She makes Maya leave when she tells her that her hug is too soft. Carina can’t handle that right now. She can’t handle Maya hovering and wanting to hold her and touch her. She can’t.

“I want to scream. Until my throat hurts more than my head and my stomach and my chest. I just want to scream so that some of this pressure goes away.” Carina paces around the hallway outside their bedroom, waving her hand franticly in the air.

“So, scream. Do it. Let it out.”

“I can’t.”

Carina goes back into the bathroom and sits in the shower.

Maya finds the number for the funeral home. She calls the funeral director and tells him to just get Andrew’s body cremated and that they don’t plan on having a funeral or service of any kind but that if that changes, she will call him and let him know.

Next, she finds Andrew’s address in the book of addresses that Carina has made and put in a drawer in the kitchen. Because what if you lose your phone or it stops working. You need a backup, she told Maya.

She contacts the landlord and finds out about ending Andrew’s lease. She asks if it would be okay if they came over sometime to pick up his stuff. And says that she doesn’t know if they have a key to Andrew’s apartment but that she can check. The landlord tells her that if she doesn’t find a key that he’ll have to arrange someone to meet with them and let them in.

Maya remembers Carina mentioning the bank but she knows she won’t get far with that item on the list, so she skips it until she has more information. Like even what bank Andrew uses. She knows that might be something that they’ll have to do after they go over to Andrew’s apartment and look through his records.

She makes Carina a sandwich. Maya is just about done. “Carina, I made something for you to eat.”

Carina comes into the kitchen. Maya brings it over to the table. She tells Carina she did the list.

“No one’s ever done that for me.”

Maya closes the fridge a little surprised at Carina is saying. But now that Maya thinks about it who would do something like that for Carina. Not anyone from her family. Maybe a close friend but Maya doesn’t know who that would be. It’s maybe one of the saddest things Carina has ever said to her. That she hasn’t ever had anyone to support her or look out for her. The look on Carina’s face is so hard to see. She just wishes she could take all of Carina’s pain away.

Carina sits in the shower and thinks about Andrea again.

Maya comes in after a few minutes. She has Carina’s phone in her hand. “You don’t have to look at this.” There are some messages on the phone. Maya has answered a few calls from names she recognizes from the hospital but lets the rest go to voicemail. There are texts too. Maya leaves them unread so that Carina can look at them later. “I’m going to go out for a little bit. Maybe an hour. If you need anything, you call me.”

She glances over at Maya but doesn’t move any other body parts.

“Okay.” Maya sets the phone down on the shower floor. “I’ll be back.”

Maya goes out. She’s got her running shoes. She runs. She runs down to the transit station that Carina’s car is parked at.

She unlocks the door and gets in. The run refreshing her a little. Maya drives the car back to the apartment, stopping at the store on the way to pick up some groceries since they’ll be at home for a week.

Maya puts the groceries away, giving Carina some space. The problem is she still has all this anxious energy. Maya pulls her shirt over her head and starts with pushups.

Carina comes out, showered. They talk about guilty and blame. But Carina starts to cry, and she doesn’t want to cry again. She wants to be done crying.

“Too soft.” Maya says with a pained look on her face.

Carina is thankful that Maya gets it. Thankful that Maya gets up and walks away. Thankful because she doesn’t know how long she can keep her temper on the short leash that it is currently on. The lack of sleep and the crying and the constant thoughts that are running through her brain have made her exhausted and irritable.

She sits there, on the edge of the couch. She hears Maya start on something for dinner. Carina wants to cry again. But this time because Maya is being so wonderful. She’s doing things that Carina hasn’t asked her to do, wouldn’t ask her to do. She’s cooking meals, and making sure she eats, even if it’s just a little bit. Maya didn’t say anything, but Carina knows she went to go get her car. So, she gets up and goes to sit at the island in the kitchen and watch Maya cook.

Neither of them say anything but when Maya turns around and sees Carina sitting there she gives her a soft smile. She recognizes what Maya is cooking just by the ingredients and what she’s doing. Onions, garlic, tomatoes, wine, basil, black pepper. She’s making homemade pasta sauce.

The water is in one pot on the back of the stove. Maya has the burner on waiting for it to come to a boil before adding the linguine noodles she wants to pair with the pasta sauce. It hurts not to be able to touch, or hold, or comfort Carina right now. She understands it, but that doesn’t make her hurt any less. Maya is just hoping that by cooking something that is somewhat easy, and she knows how to do without messing up, and that is Italian, that it will be of some small comfort to Carina.

She gets all the ingredients into a sauce pan and heats them up. The water starts to boil, and she adds the noodles. She should have thought of baking some bread but it’s too late for that now. The bread wouldn’t be done in time.

“Maya.”

She hears Carina’s voice just as she’s getting the noodles into the pot.

“Yeah?” She turns around to face her girlfriend. Carina sits there, her arms wrapped protectively around her stomach, her lip trembling, tears in her eyes. And it hurts to see her like that.

“I- I love you.” Carina stutters out.

Maya moves. She goes to Carina’s side and presses a kiss to the side of her head. “I love you too.” They share a look where Carina says thank you and Maya says you’re welcome before Maya moves back over to the stove. She stirs the pasta sauce and then the noodles to make sure nothing is sticking or burning. “Now, it’s probably not as good as yours. Or it probably doesn’t taste as Italian as yours but I tried my best.”

Maya gets out the strainer and puts it in the sink. She gets plates and forks and knifes and puts them on the counter. She thinks about asking Carina if she wants some wine. It’s opened and sitting right there on the counter. Maybe it will help her sleep. But Maya shakes her head. Water is better. Especially if Carina is dehydrated from crying. She gets out two glasses and fills them with water. She grabs them and turns around. “Where do you want to eat? Here? Or at the table?”

Carina doesn’t want to move. For some reason the kitchen feels like the safest, most comfortable place. It’s not too soft but at the same time reminds her of all the things she loves. The best of Italy, of her brother, of the day they had him over for dinner. It reminds her of Maya. Maya is literally standing right there cooking her an Italian meal in the kitchen that they now share, where the chalkboard on the wall says Home Is Whenever I’m With You. She feels like she needs to stay where she is.

“Here.” Carina clears her throat. She doesn’t explain why, and she hopes that Maya doesn’t ask.

“Okay.” Maya sets the glass down. One in front of Carina and the other opposite here. “I think it’s almost ready. So just a few more minutes.” She turns back to the stove. Maya stirs the pasta sauce and then brings the spoon to her lips to taste test. She hums, not sure if it’s quite right. “Can you try this?” She carries the spoon across the kitchen with a hand underneath it to catch any drips. “Is it okay?” She holds the spoon out for Carina.

Carina wraps her lips around the tip of the spoon, pulling some sauce into her mouth. It’s good. She hums. “Add a pinch of salt.”

Maya goes back to the stove and adds some salt, stirring it in. She feels like she needs to talk, to say something. “I went to the store earlier. Since we’re going to be home all week.”

“You didn’t have to do that.”

Maya turns and narrows her eyes at Carina, confused as to why Carina would think she didn’t have to go get groceries for their household. “We need to eat. I don’t want to starve.”

Carina smirks a little. It’s the first time Maya has seen anything other than sadness and despair on her face since she found Carina kneeling over Andrew on the floor of the train station. Just a little curl upwards of one side of her lips.

“I meant you didn’t need to take a whole week off of work.”

Maya hums. “Oh.” She turns back to the stove. “Well, I wanted to. I think I might have said this one time-“ She knows she definitely told Carina this. “-that you are more important to me than my job.” She stirs the linguine noodles and picks one out to see if they are done. “Plus, I never take vacation or time off.” Maya chuckles a little. “Maybe one day this week, if you’re feel up for it, we can go to the park. The one where we’ve watched the sun set.”

“I would like that.”

“Good. I know it sucks with Covid and everything. We can’t even have a proper funeral for Andrew. We can’t go anywhere. We can’t go to places that aren’t restaurant or cafes or whatever. Not that we would be going anywhere fun this week. I just- you know- it doesn’t help. It makes this- Andrew’s death that much harder. We should be able to have a funeral and have everyone from the hospital that he knew there. We should be able to have family fly in from Italy to be here for the funeral. We should be able to do those things, but we can’t.”

Maya doesn’t even realize she’s doing it, but Carina sure does. We- we- we- we.

And every time Maya uses the word we Carina’s heart heals back together just a little bit. She lets Maya keep talking though. She knows Maya is rambling because she’s anxious and doesn’t know what else to do. And she loves Maya for it.

“It’s not fair. But maybe after Covid is over we can do something. I don’t know, what do you want to do. I know you decided that there wasn’t going to be a funeral. Did you get that text from Chief Bailey?” Maya looks over her shoulder. “About the memorial for Andrew.” Maya only knows because Ben text her about it too. “Ben text me to make sure you got the message. I guess it’s the day after tomorrow. In the evening, in the parking lot. You will go, right?” Maya turns around to look at Carina for the first time since she started talking. Carina hasn’t said anything.

“Carina?” Maya catches Carina’s eyes. She has her brow furrowed, like she’s in deep thought.

“Yeah, I’ll go.”

“Okay, Ben offered to drive us there. Should I tell him we’ll take him up on the offer?”

“Sure.”

“Great. Dinner’s ready.” Maya removes the noodles from the stove and drains them. She turns the sauce off from its simmer. The linguine noodles go on the plates and Maya spreads some sauce over them before bringing them over to Carina. “Buon appetito.” She sits down across from Carina.

The rest of the evening is quiet. Carina doesn’t sleep in the bed with Maya. Maya doesn’t sleep well and gets up every few hours to check on Carina. She finds her in the kitchen. Sitting at the island, with her laptop in front of her, listening to music, or watching a movie. But Maya doesn’t think she’s really actually paying attention. She would be more worried about Carina if she wasn’t eating, if she wasn’t communicating at all. But she is, so she doesn’t worry too much. Maya knows that everyone goes through death and the grieving process differently. There are many different forms of grief. Sometimes even within the same person. She knows Carina wants space and doesn’t want to be too soft, so she just leaves her be with the hopes that she’ll make it through this process. She knows there’s many steps to go through. Carina’s done the shock, denial and anger, and bargaining. All rather quickly. But life comes at you quickly.

Carina just wants her brain to shut off. For the constant thoughts to stop. The only way that she’s gotten them to stop is to drown them out with music. Or her favorite movies, ones that she can get lost in. So she sits and tries to lose herself in those things. She can see Maya sometimes out of the corner of her eye. Or even just feel her lingering.