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Two Large Teas
Jade green eyes stared at me. My ice blue ones stared calmly back. I tried as hard as I could not to blink. I could not give away my nervousness. I didn’t even have a reason to be nervous. They had no evidence, and therefore no way to convict me of this murder. Besides, I hadn’t killed anyone.
“Where were you the night the victim died?” Her voice was chilling.
“I told you,” I replied simply, “at my house, drinking a cup of tea.”
I saw her face harden. It wasn’t the first time my interrogator had asked me that question. It puzzled me that she was so set on proving my guilt. I hadn’t done anything!
“Then how do you account for the fact that one of your neighbors saw you leave the apartment complex, half an hour before Sylla Platt was found murdered in the park?”
“I went to buy the tea. I was out of teabags, so I though I’d treat myself to carry-out. I never went anywhere near the park. Just ask the worker at the coffeehouse.”
To tell the truth, I’m not sure I did go to the coffeehouse. For some reason, that night was a bit of a blur. I know I went out, and I know I returned with a large tea. But in between…..All I know is that I would never murder Sylla! I’ve known her for years. I’m not even sure why I’m here. There is no reason these strange people should suspect me of anything.
“We did. They said you came in, ordered two large teas, paid, and left. Why did you order two teas, if you were alone that night?”
“I….I’m not sure,” I responded. Had I really bought two teas? That was strange. “I guess I wasn’t thinking. I was pretty tired that night.”
She narrowed her eyes. Why was she looking at me like that? I was being completely honest. Why couldn’t they accept the fact that I hadn’t done anything wrong? Yes it was odd that I had bought two drinks instead of one, but everyone did stupid things!
I reached my hand out to brush my blonde hair out of my face and noticed that my fingernails, which were usually quite clean, had a strange layer of grime underneath them. But stranger than that was the large burn running from my palm almost up to my elbow. When did that get there? I gasped and dropped my hand into my lap.
“Look, I really don’t know why you’re accusing me! I know I sound like I’m lying, but I’m not! I would never kill Sylla. Someone’s framing me.”
My argument sounded shaky, even to my own ears. Nevertheless I had no memory of ever doing such a thing. I wouldn’t... I’m not a killer. But what about that burn?
“Ms. Lyle, would you like to know how the victim died?”
My eyes widened. Wordlessly, I nodded. As the inspector told me, I felt my insides grow cold. A ball of ice formed in the pit of my stomach. A lump rose in my throat. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even breathe.
Sylla had been scalded by boiling hot liquid, strangled with a belt, and then beaten over the head with a heavy object—most likely a purse.
As the inspector revealed more and more details, so did my mind. Blurry, half-hidden images surfaced and became sharper. Two boiling-hot teas, a detour to the park, a text message from Sylla saying she was going out, if I wanted to meet her… It all came together. And in that instant, I knew any further argument I had was useless. The green-eyed cop finished relating the details. I stood up, hot tears of shame rolling down my face.
“I can’t believe it,” I whispered. “I didn’t even remember,” my words trailed off. There were no excuses any more.
As she put the handcuffs on me and led me away, I knew that there was no chance of getting out alive. I was the murderer who didn’t even realize what she was. I was a monster.
I told myself that all the way to jail. I knew it couldn’t go on. That night I tore strips off the itchy, cotton-blend bed sheet. I tied them together. This was the way it had to be. I deserved to die. And as I jumped, I knew I was doing the right thing.