San Francisco could not have offered more of an unsuitable setting
for a funeral than that day. Morning mists had already burned off and the sky was blue and cloudless, perfect, as midsummer
usually was in the bay city. Soft winds cooled the eighty-plus degree temperature, and the beauty and serenity of the city
filled thousands of tourists as they shopped along the steep streets, filed through Alcatraz, and rode the ferries to the
Life went on outside of St. Catherine’s Church on Alameda
Island. In front of the church, small groups of people huddled together in quiet discussion, the subject the same among them.
They couldn’t believe that such an incident had happened to one of their own, to one that had been so close to all of
them. Friends as well as acquaintances would forever feel her touch in their lives.
No one wanted to step through those heavy oak doors. That would make it real, final. When the
church bells began to toll the hour, the choice was no longer theirs if they were to say their final goodbye to someone so
Sera Delaney had just endured one of the worst days of her life. Returning home, alone to the
house she grew up in, she locked the dead bolt, tested the door, locked it again and then repeated this new ritual to each
door and window. Assured that everything was secure, she set the alarm and went upstairs to shower off mud that had splashed
onto her legs.
The hotter the better, she sighed as she labored up each step. The heat might help soothe
her. She reached into the shower and set it full blast on the hottest setting. Carelessly, she took off the black dress she
wore that day and threw it in a corner, vowing to burn it the first chance she got. She would never want to wear it again
anyway, it would always be an implication of her mother’s funeral.
Stepping into the steaming shower and letting the water run over her body, Sera didn’t dare
look down at herself. She would see the bruises and welts that she carried with her. They would fade, eventually, but the
internal scars would stay with her forever.