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“ Well, do you still think about it? Now that its not so recent?”
“When do I not think about it,” I answer in a neutral voice, slumping back in the huge leathery chair in my psychologist’s office. I hate these sessions with Dr. Marren in her small, dank, stuffy room. Full of plants and its obnoxiously over-decorated maroon walls.
“And the nightmares?” She asks, pressing her bright red lips together. I feel my body go ridged and tense up at the thought, and she must have noticed, because she leans over her desk, opens her notebook, and writes the words, “ Ongoing Nightmares ” in her small, neat handwriting.
“Tell me about your most recent one,” Dr. Marren adds without looking up from the paper. I don’t see how repeating the story to her for a third time is helpful, but I’ve got to hand it to her; She’s good at what she does for being so young. She must be about my age. Twenty? Twenty-one? Wearing her petite black jacket and skirt; her auburn hair pinned up in a perfect bun; Her tan flawless skin and her blood-red lips. Completely opposite of my plain blonde hair and pale face.
“ Same as always,” I say, my voice completely empty of all emotion. My voice is empty but I can feel my chest slowly filling with despair. The way it does whenever I am forced to think about it.
Whenever I have to remember the sun beaming down through the trees of that never-ending forest. A memory full of giggles as Sarah and I, only three yards apart, reach down and collect the biggest pinecones we can find. Then, dropping them in our matching, brown, woven baskets for her little sister, Emily, who had recently decided to ditch her rock collection for Pinecones. Early on I had decided it was going to a good day. Around seven, I had made myself coffee and was staring out through the cabin window; watching the final minutes the sunrise, the cool breeze blowing through the trees. “Today would be the day,” I thought. The day that I would finally tell my boyfriend, Ian, that I love him. I had realized this last week after prom and had been trying to tell him ever since; but never finding the right opportunity.
After witnessing several failed attempts, Sarah, being the most badass friend anyone could ever ask for, took matters into her own hands. On Friday during lunch, she had rushed over to me , with a huge grin on her face, wearing her favorite white dress and her reddish-blonde hair in perfect ringlets. She slammed the lunch tray on the table, and was ready to burst with excitement. “This weekend the three of us are going up to my family’s cabin in Crestone Peak!” she said. “What?” I asked. “I already told my parents.” She said, beaming. “They think that you and I are going up there to get in one last camping trip before graduation next week. It’ll be the perfect time for you to tell Ian!” She had told me. Before I could respond, Ian slid into the seat next to me. She turned, blasting her smile towards Ian, informing him of our new weekend plans.
Gazing out through that window-pane, the sun filling up the forest, I knew the day would be perfect.
Around eleven I went out with Sarah; determined to get at least four decent sized baskets of pinecones as we had promised Emily.
“How are you gonna tell him?” Sarah asked, with her huge contagious smile, pulling her long strawberry blonde hair into a ponytail. I stopped and studied the pinecone in my hand.
“Not sure,” I answer, feeling a small smile creep onto my face. “I’m so nervous! I’ve got that horrible butterfly-feeling in my stomach, but at the same time I cant wait.” I say as I bend to get my biggest pinecone yet. Out in our PJs, in a forest picking up pinecones, and smiling like idiots. It seems so odd that such a beautiful memory would be followed, not only five minutes later, by the worst moment of my life.
“Remember when we went to Katy’s party?” she asked giggling. I laugh hysterically at the embarrassing memory. It must be around noon now and we’re reminiscing our Senior year. I feel the sun on my face and can hear the light wind blowing through the trees.
I reach down to get the last Pinecone to complete my basket, setting it on the top, I straighten up, and glance to my right, just in time to see the bullet rip through her body. Hearing the bang of a gun, ringing through the trees around me.
I know what I should have done. I should have run over to her. I should have run to help her. Should have stayed at least somewhat level-headed and have shaken off the stupor of shock that had come over me. I should not have stood there. Stunned. Unable to respond or function. But that’s exactly what I did. I stood there. My body paralyzed. Shot. She’s been shot. Her body which has slumped to the ground, is spilling blood all around her. It’s steady stream trickling out of her stomach. How? How could she have been shot? At the unsettling thought, I manage to turn my ridged head to the left. And what I see next is too much for me to handle. Standing there is Ian. Drenched in sweat; his arm outstretched, his trembling hand clasping a small black hand-gun. The horror I feel inside me tumbles over and the sight of him jolts me out of my dazed stupor. I stagger over to Sarah who is lying on her back, convulsing, gasping for air, and clutching at the ground, as the blood gushes out. Ian, breathing heavily, throws the gun then turns and runs; disappearing into the forest within seconds. I’m kneeling beside her and before I know it I’m sobbing. Continuously repeating her name as I apply pressure to the shot wound. Her face splattered with blood. “Sarah! Sarah!” I cry. Somehow through all the pain she’s still conscious.
“Sarah if you can manage it, applies pressure, as much pressure as you can so that I can call 911.” I say in my shrill panicked voice. She inhales sharply, nods, and pushes on her stomach trying to stop the heavy blood flow. I whip out my phone, aware that my arms are completely red. When I hear the woman’s voice on the other end of the line, I’m bawling as I tell her as much as I can about the last fifteen minutes. Between the time the ambulance was dispatched to the time that they got to the cabin, was excruciatingly long. Didn’t they know that with every second that passed by, her life was slowly ticking out of her. Sarah finally lost consciousness just as I heard the sirens. The paramedics pulled up in front of the cabin and rushed over with a stretcher. They swear that it only took them ten minutes to get here but surely it must have been thirty. Everyone is trying to assure me that they will do everything that they can to keep her alive and before I know it, they’ve run her to the nearest hospital. Trying to reassure me that everything will be done to try to keep her alive. My body is completely numb. The police swarm around me, bombarding me with questions about Ian, whose long gone in Sarah’s white truck. But before I can answer their questions, the trauma catches up with me. My knees start to buckle and to my dismay I feel myself overcome with sorrow as my body slips away from consciousness.
“Ari, If you won’t tell me than how I be able help you?” asked Dr. Marren, soothingly, when I didn’t answer. I look down at my hands in my lap.
I might as well tell her. She reminds me every session that if I want to be able to get over it and move on, I’ll have to open up to her. Reluctantly I say, “ lately, I’ve been dreaming about the trail.” Cleary this wasn’t the response she was expecting. Every other time she has asked this question my response has always been, “the moment she was shot,” or “the last few seconds I got with her in the hospital before she died.”
But no, I’ve been dreaming of the trail. I close my eyes and I see Ian’s blank face as he’s pleads guilty. He admitted to killing her. His attorney told the court that he was insane and didn’t know what he was doing. But that’s not what bothers me. What keeps me up at night and blares through my dreams. The police couldn’t find a motive and when he was asked why he killed her. He refused to give an answer. He just looked at me and smiled. A smile so twisted and sick that seemed to scream at me, “I killed your friend and you will never know why.”
When I tell her this, Dr. Marren doesn’t know how to respond. She just clears her throat, closes her notebook, and says thanks me for returning to therapy. I slowly get up and once again she adds a little, “and I’m sorry for your loss.” I nod and close the door behind me. I head out of the building, feeling a little better after talking with someone. It’s time for me to move on. It’s been a month and a half. I cross the street to my small silver car and drive far away from the life I used to know. I drive down the highway as I leave the small town I used to love, and leave Sarah behind with it.