Celeste was a nice but terribly spoiled nine year old. An only child, she was born on Halloween in 2006, a little more than nine months after Nasa’s spacecraft Stardust delivered its cargo to Earth. Two months after her birth, her grandfather, Albert P. Lamoine, CEO and founder of Lamoine Industries in Minneapolis, keeled over dead from a massive heart attack, leaving her father Boone with a sudden and considerable fortune.
The money was the only reason Cindi, Boone’s wife, didn’t leave him. She had truly learned to loathe his bible-thumping, holier-than-thou bullshit, but she liked to think she’d put up with him for Celeste’s sake. Sometimes she did feel a little sorry for him–a grown man believing such ridiculous nonsense! And his Bible Studies, what a crock.
They made it to the front seats reserved for them just as the organ accompaniment began. Celeste stood center stage, her beautiful long dark hair (from her father’s side) giving her a natural halo. Her pretty face was in stark contrast to Jesus’s bloody head on the cross behind her. Her new Christmas outfit sparkled.
The woman at the organ nodded, Celeste opened her mouth, and her angelic voice began to resound throughout the church, first floating loftily in the rafters overhead, and then spilling down on the congregation like a fresh summer shower. The girl could sing.
After the program, they found their car had a thick layer of ice on it, so while Boone scraped the windows, the girls chatted. “That was absolutely astounding, Cel, I was so proud.”
“Thanks, mom, did Daddy like it?”
“Are you kidding? He practically popped the buttons off his jacket!”
The door opened and Boone slid in behind the wheel. “Man, is it cold,” he said, blowing in his cupped hands, “I hope the roads are plowed…this is bad.” He pulled the Mercedes up to a stop sign, and, unlike his usual law-abiding self, drove right through and up the entrance ramp onto the freeway.
“Dad!” Celeste called from the back seat. “You didn’t stop.”
Cindi joined in. “Yea, I believe that was…ah…a…sin?”
Boone knew there was no way out of it, so he said nothing, and clicked on the radio. The snow was really coming down now, shifting in the wind in time with Mariah Carey’s O Holy Night. Finally, he said, “You know, we have so much to be thankful for…”
Celeste caught her mother’s eyes in a here we go again look. Sermon # 593882.
Boone looked over at the colorful Christmas lights in the yards along the freeway while Mariah belted out “…the stars are brightly shining…”
“We have been truly blessed,” he began, “and we have everything a person could want…the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
“You sinned,” Celeste said from the dark behind him, “the wages of sin are…you know.”
“I was just going to tell you how awesome you were tonight. And there is only one thing that really matters to your mom and me. And that is YOU! We would die for you.”
Celeste leaned forward into the light. “Really? You would die for me?”
“Really,” Cindi said, turning to take Celeste’s hand. Boone turned to her too, and while he was babbling about how much he loved her, Celeste could suddenly see a vehicle ahead through the icy windshield. There was a truck, loaded with pipes and stuck in the snow, directly in their path. But instead of warning them, she held their gaze and smiled.
“I love you too, mommy and daddy,” she cooed, and then suddenly ducked down a second before the Mercedes plowed into the windshield-level load of pipes at 50 mph. Celeste lay unconscious across the back seat as her parents bled to death on the nice upholstery up front. Mariah never missed a beat.
Now, Kor would fly solo.