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The Last Day

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On your death day, you don't wake up knowing this will be your last. You don't make a point to have your last perfect dinner, or finally visit that old friend, or go to that new restaurant you keep saying you'll try but never do. I definitely didn't know. I would have been more careful, looking both ways before crossing the street, locking all the doors and windows. Maybe I would've spent time reliving my favorite moments - the times my cousin Alyssa and I laughed so hard we could barely breathe, sharing a room with Alyssa and her sister in Cape Cod and laughing so loudly Alyssa's sister threw all her pillows at our heads, the time my friends and I got the cops called on us for being too loud in the movie theater, watching baseball on ESPN with my brother before he got all moody and silent - or according to my mom, "being a normal teenager." Yeah. Good call, Dorothy. All the things that stood out in my life, the things I never wanted to forget, the people I never wanted to forget.

Screaming. Gunshots. That's pretty much all I remember from May 13, 1996. My parents don't really talk about it. My mom, or as I like to call her, Dorothy, just calls it "the incident". Like it was some minor inconvenience in our day - but we all know it was a lot more than that.

I used to be totally obsessed with it all. I spent my time researching it, like it was some sick history project. I printed out different newspaper clippings, but they all said the same thing - 16 people were killed and 26 injured on the day my brother snapped and shot people on a shopping trip with me and my mom. The cops came and took him away to a high security prison, where he attempted to escape a few months later, but got shot down as he tried to make his escape.

1996. That's the year my brother died. At least that's what I thought.

Fast forward fifteen years, where I'm sitting in my room in our house in southern Maine. My room desperately needs a new coat of paint - it's chipping all around the windows. We moved here from New Hampshire because my mom decided "we needed some peace and quiet."
Obviously that's not the real reason. She just wanted to escape the knowing stares we got in the grocery store, and the unashamed whispering that followed us everywhere we went. My dad was indifferent about the move, it didn't have an effect on his two main habits: watching golf or traveling the country as a salesman for a national precious metals company.

"LEAH! I'M GOING ON MY CATHOLIC LADIES RETREAT! THERE'S MONEY ON THE COUNTER FOR GROCERIES", my mom yelled to me from downstairs," I'LL BE BACK IN A FEW DAYS, BEHAVE YOURSELF PLEASE."

"OK MOM, BYE." This is the usual length of our conversations. I hear her close the garage door. Took her long enough to leave! She is so annoying.

My thoughts are interrupted by a tapping sound. Is someone tapping on my window? I peer outside, but no one's there. Time to call my friends. There is no way I'm sitting alone all night.

I hear my phone ringing - looks like someone else has no plans for tonight yet either.
"Hey! I was seriously just gonna call you, when can you come over?" I say to my friend Amber. She's probably the wildest one out of the three of us.

"Like right now, didn't you get my text?" I didn't. "I brought Rosie with me. We're pulling up now! See you in like-WOAH DUDE!"

I hear Rosie scream in the background, and screeching from Amber's car stopping suddenly.

"What? What? Are you guys OK?" I race over to the window, only to see Amber's car stopped in the middle of my driveway. I run downstairs, slipped on my favorite Adidas sandals, and ran outside to see the three of them getting out of the car.

"Some guy just came out of nowhere in front of my car! I was seriously so close to hitting him...but I'm totally fine, don't worry about me." Amber says to me, adding, "What a creep."

Rosie shivered. "Let's just go inside guys. It looks like it's gonna snow. I hate winter in Maine!"

Once we got inside, Amber immediately walked into the stainless steel kitchen to ransack my fridge, as per usual. She lifted a carton of soy milk up. "Seriously? Do you drink this now?"

"No! Of course-wait, did anyone else just hear that?" I looked around nervously; I could've sworn I heard something upstairs.

Rosie laughed. "What are you talking about? You are so paranoid. I'll go check for you, I wanna raid your closet anyways. Maybe there'll be some crazy dude in there!" Rosie laughed, running up the stairs.

Amber put her phone on the counter and opened a can of soda. "Wanna know something so weird? I saw this guy that totally looked like you yesterday at Price Chopper." She took a seat at the counter. "I mean, he was older, but he definitely looked like you. Maybe he's your long lost brother!"

I laughed at her, "Yeah right! It must've just been a coincidence. Seriously, what is taking Rosie so long? Let's go see if she's stealing my shoes or something."

"Rosie! What are you-
AHHHHH!" I staggered back, clutching Amber's wrist. Rosie was on the ground, with a pool of blood around her.

Amber lifted her head. "Do you smell that?"

"Yeah...does that smell like smoke to you?" We turned to see a fire spreading along the wooden floor.

"Run!" Amber screamed as we turned to go down the stairs. The fire is spreading down the stairs behind us quickly. Amber looks behind us for a second and trips, flying down the stairs and landing on her leg. I hear a sickening snap, and realize she must have broken her leg. She mumbles something to me. I go closer to her. "What?"

"I said, go without me! You can't drag me through your house. I'll be fine."

"But I can't leave you here!" I hear someone walking toward us, and look up.

"Wait...Martin? That's not you, is it?"

The guy that looks like my brother Martin is holding something that looks like a knife in his hand. I start to back up, but he moves towards me. I have to make a choice - run, or get killed by this guy that definitely looks like my brother. He takes another step towards me and I suddenly find myself running out of the house, but he catches up with me quickly, and grabs my arm.

"It's me, Martin," he says, "I didn't plan on killing your friend. She saw me. The voices told me I didn't have a choice."

"What voices? Wait, I thought you were dead!" I say, but it's like he can't hear me. "Martin? Martin, can you hear me?"

He looks at me. "The doctors said I'm schizophrenic, but the voices said they were lying. They told me I should try to break out from prison again, so I did, and this time I got out. Then the voices told me I have to find Mom and Dad, and set the house on fire."

"Martin! Listen to me! The voices aren't real. The doctors were right. They can help you, you can go back to the hospital and get the help you need!" I say, trying to fight back tears. But he still can't seem to hear me. I have no choice - I punch him in the stomach with my free hand and run the fastest I have in my entire life. I run like this for a few minutes, then I get to an intersection. I stop running, and try to catch my breath, but then I realize that I need to get someplace safe, like the town police station. I start running across the street, but I didn't see the truck coming straight at me. Don't worry, it only hurt for a second. Then I was free to go to the light, and the rest is just going to have to be a mystery for you.





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