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I knew she was dead before she died.
That’s how well I knew her. I knew she was going to kill herself today before she did. And I didn’t do a thing to stop her. I convinced myself she deserved it, deserved death for all those things she did to me. “Friends forever,” she once told me on the playground, a sunny day of 6th grade. I thought it was true, thought she was true. Too bad she lived a lie. But for those first few weeks of pure friendship, I was on top of the world. Until the day she made it official.
We were sitting on the grass outside of my house, picking at the ground and talking about cute boys who passed by. It was the summer of 7th grade and I was having the time of my life.
“Are you happy Katie?” She asked me, taking my hand in hers and turning it over, palm up.
“Yes.” I was so happy I couldn’t contain it. She made me say it five times before she believed me. Then I thought she suspected me of lying. Now I think she was the one who was unhappy.
“Prove it,” she whispered in my ear. I wanted to, I really did. I would do anything to prove my friendship to her. She was my best friend.
“How?” I had a nervous feeling in my stomach, knots twisting up my insides. She took out a small pocket knife and placed it on my palm. She pressed it harder, until it pierced the skin. A scarlet line formed on my white skin. A tear filled my eye. She dragged it across my palm, until she had made an “F”. And then she did it again, making another jagged “F” next to the first. When it was over my palm stung and she was smiling.
“It’s our mark. Friends forever.”
I thought it was so cool, like I belonged fully to her. But now I know it was only a branded mark to show that she owned me, that she could do anything to me and I had to let her.
Two years later, we sat again on the grass outside of my house, discussing who was sleeping with who and where we were gonna get drunk tonight: my house or yours? It was the summer of 9th grade.
She took my palm in her hand and turned it over, just like she had two years ago. She traced the pink scar, smiling to herself.
“Do you love me?”
Why would she ask me that? I wondered.
“You’re my best friend.” It seemed like the best answer. It was the only truth I had. But she looked sad, looking away, towards Matt Brown’s house across the street. Matt was in 11th grade and the hottest guy in school.
“Let’s go say hi.” She nodded towards his house and pulled me up, dragging me behind her as we crossed the street. She knocked on his door and it opened on command, a shirtless and seriously ripped Matt standing in the doorway.
“Hey girls,” he smiled. He was such a player. She dragged me inside without even asking. I’ve always wondered where she found such confidence. Now I know it was all insecurity. She sat down next to me on his couch and playfully begged Matt to come over and watch TV with us. It was his house for God’s sake! Why was she acting like she owned the place?
“Please, Matt,” she begged, licking her lips. “We’re so lonely over here.” She was trying to be sexy. She wanted him to want her. And he sure did. He sauntered over to us and took a spot in the middle, putting his arms around our shoulders. We were his.
“What brings you here?” He was asking us both.
“We got bored,” she breathed, touching his chest. “Can you fix that?” She bit his ear. Who does that?
“Of course.” He leaned over her and kissed her lips, hungry. This was getting awkward. I stood up and went into the kitchen, desperate for an escape. I sat on the cold tile floor and, eventually, fell asleep.
When I woke up, I wasn’t in the kitchen anymore. I was in the his bedroom, my clothes were missing. This could not be happening. A hot tear fell down my cheek and onto the sheets. I slowly stood up, got dressed, and crept downstairs. Matt was lying naked on the couch. He looked ugly. What he did to us was ugly. I couldn’t find her.
I went home. If I’d maybe looked harder, actually tried to find her, I would have seen her. Lying on the bathroom floor, empty pill bottles scattered around. Her eyes open, blank, unmoving. But I already knew this was going to happen.
The day before we went to his house, we were in my room. She sat on my bed, flipping through old Seventeen and Vogue magazines.
“I don’t want to live past tomorrow,” she said, as casually as if she’d been talking about Jessica Simpson’s hair.
“What?” I didn’t know what she meant. Now I do.
She never mentioned it again. I tried to forget. But I knew what she said was true. She meant it. She wasn’t going to live past tomorrow. She got her wish.
Her name was Leah Shore. And she is dead.