Eliza Bergen hated life in the town, and she made sure everyone she met knew. She would often discuss the glamour and wonder of city life, in spite of the fact that she (nor anyone in the town) had ever visited the city. Her ideas of the brusque metropolitan life only came from the movies on the television. Everyday she would go to work at the general store and to each customer she would repeat 'This town is so dull. How can you stand it?'. Each day she would walk home from work in a frumpy dress with some sort of gaudy home made accessory to add some 'glamour'. With each paycheck she would save a little more everyday to go to the city. Her mind would race; She would quickly make her way up to the top of high society, and all the other city girl's would be jelous of her.
Minnie Lewis always thought Eliza was an odd girl. She didn't have the heart to tell her that there was no way to get to the city from the town. No busses ever passed, no cars from other towns travel through, and to get out of town she would have to get herself a car in the first place. Each day when Eliza came into work and she spouted her daily 'This town is so dull. How can you stand it?'Minnie would just give a hearty laugh and say 'Child, it is dull. But it's home.' With that Eliza would normally begin work as she did every day. She wished that Eliza realized what a secret blessing it was not to have the excitement of the city. There had never been a murder or unnatural death in the town's history, and there had only been two robberies. Minnie said this everyday and Eliza just brushed it off. Minnie cared about that girl.
Randy Michaels was in love with Eliza. He would do anything for her, but she never noticed him like that. Whenever they talked, Eliza would ignore any advances and talk about the city. He always offers to go with her, but she retorts and lets him know that the endeavor is her's alone. She would tell him about what she saw on the television the night before, and it always excited him. 'One day, I'm going to do something in this damn town, and no one will ever forget it.' Randy would always smile and encourage her. She never did it, but he didn't care. He loved that girl.
Constance Bergen was dying. Each day when her daughter came home she would beg her daughter to spend some time with her before she died. 'Some other time Mama.' Eliza would call up the stairs as she grabbed a coke from the fridge. Eliza would then leave and spend time with the boy down the road. A few hours later when she would come home Constance would call for her daughter. 'Mama, the movie's on soon. I'll get you your dinner, and afterwards i'm going to watch the movie. Her mother would then explain that she had a television in her room and they could watch tonight's movie together. 'You'll just ask questions mama.' Constance would then cry. She wanted that girl.
Eliza Bergen is about to die. Earlier today she decided to do something in the town that would never be forgotten. There was never an unnatural death in the town, but she would be the first. She had found some rope in the shed in her backyard, and tonight she will hang herself. Earlier in her room she decided not to write a note. They know I hate this place, so i don't even need to write a note. She will hang herself on the edge of the woods near the largest cornfield in town.
It's now night time. Eliza Bergen has her rope in the noose form, and she's hanging it on a tree. She's climbing its firm and wobbly branches. She places the loop around her neck and looks at the sky. It begins raining which she finds to be oddly poetic. She jumps: The loop tightens. She is gagging because her neck did not break. She is crying; she wants to yell but her trachea has now collapsed. Her writhing and swingins is slowing down. Her face is serene and all the tension in her body is now gone. That's the moment she died.
Before the end of the night the tree was struck by lightening and there was a small but managable fire in the cornfield. The next day everyone assumed that Eliza had finally run away, and they forgot her entirely.
Peter Bergen saw his sister die. He cannot speak and he is deaf. He cannot read or write. He saw her face in its final moments, and he smiled because for a few fleeting seconds she was happy. It was when her face was blank that his entire world died. Eliza had understood, and had been the only one to understand, that Peter was not stupid. She had taught him the alphabet a week before she committed suicide. Every night, alone in his room, he would cry silently. Four weeks later his mother died. He was alone in the world now. Though he loved his mother, it was Eliza that still plagued his thoughts. He cared for that girl. He loved that girl. He wanted that girl.
The day after his mother's funeral a social worker came and took him to the city. The boy who's entire world could only be found in the ashes of a gnarled tree lived his life hoping that one day he could truly find the happiness that his sister did not have.
Her name was Jessica, and she found the coals.