I'll miss you

September 24, 2008
By Ali Lawson Smith, Barnstaple, ZZ

Dear Diary,

Days have turned into weeks, and weeks into months and now, without even realising it, a year has gone past. A year’s worth of blame, guilt and hopelessness, feelings that are always there, when I go to sleep ,in my dreams, and when I wake up. I know I shouldn’t blame myself, but what else can I do? Nothing will bring Serena back, and I don’t think I will ever forgive myself. Oh god, if only I hadn’t have left her at the ball. If only Mr Taylor hadn’t asked me to dance with him. I should never have left her. She wouldn’t have gone outside, and none of this would have happened. Serena would still be alive, and someone else would be writing this. I would have my best friend back. I really miss Serena, but gradually and bit by bit, time really is healing my pain.

Love, Jennifer

18th December, 2007 - One year ago

‘Red, definitely’ said Jennifer, ‘It makes you look wild!’ Jennifer’s best friend Serena was trying on her dress for the Senior Christmas ball. Every sort of occasion St. Jude’s School for Girls hosted a ‘shindig’ like no other. It was attended by the senior girls from St. Judes, as well as the boys from the nearby school of Constance. It was held in the school’s ballroom, with expensive decorations hung from every wall.The meal was gourmet, and the music played only by the best DJ around. The girls, with their designer dresses and classy beauty, screamed ‘gorgeous and available’. It was only at events like these that the girls ever mixed with the opposite sex. Spending merely school holidays away from St. Jude’s, and only being allowed Sundays off, they rarely socialised with those other than pupils.

Serena Fairchild was a classic St. Jude’s girl. She came from a wealthy family, with relatives in high places, and good looks and elegance to match. She was tall, with pale wavy hair that cascaded down her back. She was well known in St. Jude’s, for her striking beauty and for being a high society ‘It girl’. But the thing that separated Serena from the rest of the ‘It girl’ clan, was her obliviousness to her charms. She regarded herself with average looks, and had the insecurities of most teenagers. She tended to stick to polite conversation with the other girls, except to her best friend Jennifer who was more like a sister to her.

Jennifer was the louder of the two. She wasn’t as liked among the other girls because she had a tendency to say exactly what was on her mind. Her parents were city lawyers who had more money then sense, but this had only made her dislike the other superficial and shallow girls. Jennifer was also very pretty; with honey coloured skin and chocolate shaded hair, she looked anything but English.

They had known each other since they had started St. Jude’s School for Girls together when they were 5 years old. St. Jude’s was set in the secluded countryside in an exceptional country mansion. The school had large grounds, with an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, and a room for each of the 100 pupils who attended there. However, with a heliport set in the grounds, St. Jude’s was anything but remote. Only a few minutes away from London, the girl’s had easy access to the latest Manolo Blahnik shoes and Prada handbags.

Tonight was the Senior Christmas Ball, and Serena and Jennifer were looking forward to impressing the Constance boys. Serena was wearing a long, backless, red dress; and her golden hair hung down her back reflecting the light as she moved. Jennifer was dressed in a little black dress that clung to her frame in all the right places.

They entered the ballroom at the same time as Charlotte, a fellow senior at St. Jude’s. She had midnight black hair and stunning dark eyes that were heavily emphasized with makeup. She always wore the same unpleasant expression, like she had just eaten something disgusting. But this was unlikely, as it was a well-known fact spread by the St. Jude’s gossipers, that Charlotte rarely ate. Arriving at St. Jude’s three years earlier, after being home schooled in southern France, she was one of the rare pupils over a size 8. After a year of being labelled the ‘fat girl’, the ‘freak’ and the ‘loner’, she disappeared one Serena to arrive back with a whole new image. With glossy highlights, a sparkling tan, and a sickly thin structure, she became the newest editions to the ‘It girl’ clique.

Charlotte had hated Serena for three long years. Even though Serena and Jennifer had stuck up for Charlotte when the name-calling was at it’s most unpleasant, Charlotte seemed to blame them for making it worse. After all, if it weren’t for attractive girls like Serena, the concept of beauty at St. Jude’s wouldn’t have been so narrow.

After being given the once over by Charlotte, Jennifer and Serena entered the bustling ballroom. The lights from the DJ booth lit up faces around the room, but darting around at such a speed it was hard to resist the urge to dance. Serena went off to get some drinks whilst Jennifer people watched the nearby individuals. One thing she had to admit about the Constance boys, they were good looking. Someone tapped her on her shoulder, interrupting her thoughts. It was Mr. Taylor, her short amusing Biology teacher.

‘Hello there Jennifer, not dancing with any boys yet?’
‘Not yet Sir! I only just got here. In fact Serena is just getting some drinks.’
‘Well maybe she’s busy with one of the boys. Such a pretty thing that Serena.’ Jennifer chuckled to herself. If only Mr. Taylor knew what Serena was like. Just because she was beautiful, it didn’t make her easy. In fact, Serena had never had a boyfriend. She’d never been very good at that sort of thing.
‘Maybe Mr. Taylor, maybe.’
‘Say Jennifer, this is the first song I have recognised all night.’ He said, referring to the Beatles song that was playing loudly.
‘Would you like to dance while your waiting?’
Just as Jennifer was about to reply, she saw Serena heading towards her. She decided Serena could cope on her own for a while, besides it might get her talking to some boys.
‘Sure Mr. Taylor, it would be my pleasure. Hey Serena, I’m just going for a dance, I’ll be back soon.’

Serena was sweating slightly after pushing her way through the heavy crowd. The queue had been long and the fierce overhead bar lighting had given her a headache. She made out her friend leading her teacher into the mass of dancing teenagers. If Jennifer had inherited anything from her Spanish ancestors, it was how to dance. She stood watching Jennifer for a while until she felt a warm breath on her shoulder. She turned around and saw James standing just behind her. He wasn’t looking directly at her – making it impossible for anyone watching to realise they were acquainted with one another – a talent which he had grown excellent at over the past few months. He left shortly through a nearby door leading to the gardens.

Serena knew that this was a sign for her to follow. She looked at Jennifer, who was busy busting her moves to a new song with Mr. Taylor. After waiting a few minutes, she followed James through the door. Instantly she felt the rush of cold air hit her body. The gardens had tiny Christmas lights along the path and tall hedges, making it the perfect place to be unseen. After a short walk she spotted James at their bench. Considering it had been a meeting point for a few months, it really was their bench.

The Christmas lights lit up James’ face perfectly, hiding his weathered skin but illuminating his bright emerald eyes. James and Serena had been lovers for nearly five months now, after meeting one warm day in August. Serena had been strolling through the gardens, muttering her Italian verbs to herself. James was fulfilling his role as the school gardener, potting the exotic looking flowers the headmistress loved. He had overhead Serena struggling with her Italian and had offered to hep her. After an exquisite conversation on how a charming, and fluent in Italian nineteen year old had ended up working as a school gardener, Serena had learnt that James had rejected the prospect of university and taken a job in the estate’s picturesque gardens doing work he was passionate about.

Five months later, Serena and James were madly in love, involved in a secret affair that they couldn’t risk being exposed.

Jennifer looked around trying to spot Serena through the swarm of people. She glanced at the clock on the wall and realised she had been dancing for nearly an hour. After politely excusing herself from Mr. Taylor she pushed her way through to the bar. She spotted Kate, a girl in her dorm.
‘Hey Kate, have you seen Serena anywhere?’ she asked.
‘I saw her about an hour ago going out the doors to the gardens.’
‘Okay thanks Kate. See you later.’

Serena and James had been in the gardens for over half an hour now. She felt guilty for leaving Jennifer, but she couldn’t tear herself away from James. These days their time was restricted. When Serena wasn’t with Jennifer she was doing exam revision. James knew he would get in trouble being involved with someone underage but nothing would make him break up with Serena.

After saying goodbye, Serena walked through the gardens in the direction of the school building, humming a tune with a wide smile on her face. She heard a rustling in the trees and laughed out loud whilst peering in the bushed for James. All of a sudden, a pair of clammy hands smothered her eyes and mouth. It seemed too rough for James, and why hadn’t he said anything. She tried to wriggle free, but the grip on her face tightened. She began to feel very frightened. The hands squeezed her face more brutally, long nails digging into and crushing her delicate features. In all the pain, a gasping voice whispered into her ear ‘I have been watching you’.

As Jennifer stepped through the door leading to the gardens, something caught her eye. She bent down and picked up a small star shaped hairgrip. After realising Charlotte had been wearing one similar earlier, she threw it into a nearby hedge. She gazed into the darkness looking for a glimpse of Serena. She had no such luck, so she headed into the sinister abyss that was the school’s gardens, with only some small Christmas lights for luminosity.

Serena opened her eyes. It was pitch black, and she smelt an unfamiliar smell of cigarettes. She remembered some hands, covering her air holes and stopping her breathing. She must have passed out. Suddenly the hands were back, this time punching her in the stomach.
‘Please no’ begged Serena, all sorts of thought running through her head. Something hit her head hard causing her to pass out once more.

After ten minutes or so Jennifer saw a shadowy object in the distance. Carefully edging nearer she realised it was a person, a girl, lying in a pool of blood. Jennifer was petrified now, but she knew she had to go nearer and see who the girl was. As she got closer she noticed the girl had pale blonde hair, now crimson with blood. A thought came into her head, causing her to rush to the body. Serena..? No it couldn’t be. She moved the hair from the girl’s face, immediately identifying Serena’s face, laden with a mixture of blood and dirt stains. Jennifer screamed, clutching Serena’s dead body.
‘Help!’ She cried, tears pouring down her face.
‘Somebody please help’.

Jennifer woke up to find herself lying in the school’s hospital. The brightness of the room hurt her eyes, and she become conscious of the daylight. She struggled to remember why she was there, when rapidly it hit her. Serena.

Tears prickled out of her eyes and she sat up out of the bed. At the end of the corridor she saw the nurse, who then called to someone else. Swiftly the headmistress entered Jennifer’s room, a look of sorrow in her eyes.
‘Hello Jennifer, how are you feeling?’
‘Where’s Serena? What has happened to Serena?’ Jennifer cried.
‘Jennifer, I’m so very sorry to have to say this. In all my years at this school, never have I had such a tragedy. It appears Serena was beaten and then murdered. I’ve left messages on your parent’s phones. I excuse you from the end of year exams and insist you go home.’
‘Who did it?’ Jennifer struggled to say, and then buried her head into her pillow.
‘They don’t know. They should do after the tests though. That’s it Jennifer, have a good cry.’

The next day Jennifer left the hospital and went back to her room. Her room was covered in pictures of her and Serena, and all she could do was cry. She took Serena’s spare key and crossed the hall to her room. Slowly turning the key, praying to find Serena sitting on her bed laughing at Jennifer. Instead she found a neat room, with her bed made and her pyjamas crinkled from the last time Serena had worn them. Jennifer grabbed the pyjamas and rubbed her face into them. It smelt of Serena, her coconut shower gel and shampoos. She sat on the floor and saw a box under her bed. Pulling it out towards her she realised it was an old shoebox. She lifted up the lid and found a bunch of letters piled on top of each other. She took the top one and read it.

Dear Serena,

I’m all yours,


Dear Serena,

Your love is a friendship set to music,


Dear Serena,

There is no remedy for love but to love more.
I love you.


Each one, like the next showed some sign of affection. Who was this James, and why did he say he loved Serena? Did he have some sort of fantasy about her, thinking she loved him back? Realising that he could have played a big part in Serena’s murder, she grabbed the letters and ran to the headmistress’ office. Within half an hour a policeman had arrived and was questioning Jennifer.
‘I have been wanting to speak to you Jennifer, but your headmistress wouldn’t allow it. She seemed to think you weren’t ready. But you want to help out in the investigation don’t you? Now, first tell me what you wanted to say.’
‘Well, I was in Serena’s room earlier and I found a box full of letters. Here, they are all from someone called James. He seems to have some sort of obsession with Serena, almost a fantasy.’
‘Possibly Serena and this James were involved romantically?’
‘No, she would have told me. We were best friends, she told me everything.’

The following day as she was going for a walk she saw the policeman who interviewed her, and another policewoman with him. They were leading a man Jennifer vaguely recognised as the school gardener, to the police car in the drive.
‘No!’ shouted the man. ‘It wasn’t me! I didn’t do it! I loved her!’

Once again Jennifer found herself running towards the headmistresses office.
‘What’s happened? Is that who did it?’ she said panting heavily.
‘That’s James. He’s our school gardener, shame I always liked him. The police have arrested him with murder.’ Jennifer sat down on a chair, feeling the familiar rising of tears.
‘Anyway’ the headmistress carried on, ‘I have spoken to your mother and she is coming to pick you up on Saturday.’

After a few days of shutting herself in her room, Jennifer went down to the gardens. Her face was gaunt and her hair greasy, she hadn’t been outside for days. As she turned a corner she heard a loud cackle. Charlotte entered her viewpoint with her posse of bimbos.
‘Not shut up in your room today Jennifer? My, your hair is in a bit of a state. When exactly was the last time you went near a shower?’
‘Shut the hell up Charlotte. My best friend was murdered. MURDERED! And all you can do is laugh.’
‘Well if you ask me Serena got what she was asking for. I heard she was involved in a drug circle, and owed more money then her parents would give her. She was such a little b**** and she was bound to get in someone’s way sooner or later. I would of done it myself eventually.’
Jennifer clenched her fists and punched Charlotte straight in the nose, causing crimson blood to ooze out.
‘You evil little cow. I’ll kill you, I really will.’
‘Oh no you won’t. Come here Jennifer, let’s walk. Charlotte, detention tomorrow in my office, don’t be late.’ Stated Mr. Leer, one of the schools maths teachers.
‘Oh Jennifer, don’t take your anger out of little troublemakers like Charlotte. It’s not worth it. Now let’s go for a walk down by the river.’
After walking in a peaceful silence for twenty minutes, sharing a cigarette, they arrived by the river that ran through one of the school fields. Mr. Leer slid his arm around Jennifer’s waist and Jennifer sobbed into his arms.
‘Jennifer enough crying now. I want you to listen. I killed Serena and I’m going to kill you.’
Jennifer tried to pull way but Mr. Leer grabbed her hair, preventing her from running away. She didn’t understand, Mr. Leer was a teacher. sJames had killed Serena.
‘Why are you lying?’
‘I’m not. I heard somebody coming and left.’
‘Oh god. Help!’ Jennifer screamed.
Mr. Leer put his sweaty hands on Jennifer’s mouth and nose, covering her air holes. Jennifer saw a figure in the distance, her eyes widened and in that split second Mr. Leer flinched, loosening his grip on Jennifer to turn around. Jennifer kicked him as hard as she could, causing Mr. Leer to let go of her completely. She ran as past as she could towards the building and for the third time in the past week she barged into the headmistresses office.

Dear Diary,

I’m going home tomorrow. In many ways I want to be alone, but St. Jude’s is my real home. Leaving means leaving the unforgetable happenings, but also leaving Serena, and I don’t think I can possibly face coming back here without her. Even though I still have the memories, it’s so painful to reminisce them. I’ve read some more of the letters from James. They are so sweet and loving that it’s not hard to belive he really loved Serena.. Apparently they have been together for five months, meeting up nearly every day. I wish Serena had told me, but James explained why they couldn’t risk telling anyone. Hopefully, eventually, I can move on.


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