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I grab my history book and close my locker. Today was a fresh start. New school, new people, new me. Or at least I hoped. I walk down the hall to my science class. Everyone else is already sitting down. There’s only one open space in the very back. I take a few steps and stop.
It’s him. What is he doing here? I thought he lived in New York with his dad? Why is he in California of all places? I take a deep breath realizing people are watching my every move. Everyone except him. His head is down engrossed in a book. His sandy blonde hair falling slightly in eyes. I quietly sit down next to him, setting my books on the desk.
He looks up and I’m hit instantly by his eyes. They are a beautiful sea green. I smile and he nods at me. Maybe he didn’t know who I was. Maybe he didn’t remember me and the past summer. But how could he not? It had been pretty major. Or maybe he’s just keeping his mouth shut.
Either way, I was grateful. I didn’t need something like that brought up. I had a daily reminder of it on my neck. A inch long cut that had turned to a nasty scar. That’s why I always kept my hair down. I didn’t want to explain to people how it got there.
The teacher walks in and thankfully he doesn’t make me get up in front of the whole class and give a speech about myself. I don’t think he even noticed me. But I wasn’t so lucky in my next class. My reading teacher, Miss Demarco, had me do exactly that. I stood up, my hands already sweating.
“I’m Elizabeth Evans. But you can call me Liz. I moved here from-” I stop and think of an answer. I couldn’t say New York. Then people may find out. I look around the room and see him staring straight at me. “Ummmm, Florida.”
Miss Demarco claps and asks me to take my seat. I sit letting out a sigh. The girl next to me leans over in her seat. “Hey, I’m Zoë.” She smiles at me, “So how was Florida? Was it super cool like Luke said when he went two summers ago?”
“Ummm, I wouldn’t know. I’ve never met him.” I say slowly. She seems very sweet but very hyper.
“Oh, right. Duhhh! But hey, you should sit with us at lunch today! I can introduce you to everyone.” She grins widely.
I nod and turn forward in my seat. Wow, this making new friends thing wasn’t too bad. I was already invited to sit at someone’s table.
I have my tray in my hand a few minutes later looking for Zoë. I see her waving at me and I walk toward her. I sit and see the three other girls across from me. They all smile waiting for Zoë to introduce everyone.
“Ok guys, this is Liz. She just moved here Florida. How cool is that?”
Her friends all smile and the blonde says, “Hey, I’m Riley.”
The one next to her with the caramel skin and pretty eyes says, “Trish.”
The last girl, a small little brunette with mouse like features says, “Jenna.”
I smile at all of them. They seem pretty nice.
Zoë is looking around the cafeteria, scanning the crowds, “Now all that’s left is Scott.”
Right then he sits down. All I can think is; great. The one person from my past that could ruin everything is sitting right next to me. But at least he seems friendlier now. He looks at me and says, “Hey you sat next to me in Mr. Arrows class, right?” I nod, “Sorry if I seemed kind of rude, that class always puts me to sleep.” He holds out his hand. I shake it and he says, “Scott, by the way. And you are?”
“Liz.” I say quite shyly.
He smiles and stuffs his face with a mouthful of salad. Everyone else starts into a conversation while I sit there awkwardly.
I’m sitting outside waiting for my bus to take me to my aunt’s house after school when he comes up. He leans against the wall next to me and smiles.
“Hi, Scott.” I keep my eyes on the road looking for the bus that I hope will come soon.
“Hey.” He comes off the wall and walks over to me. No one else is around. My bus is the very last one. “Do you remember me? Because I remember you. You’ve gotten a lot more freckles since the summer.”
I catch my breath. So he did remember me. I swallow looking up to his face. He is several inches taller than me. His face is also quite handsome. “Yes.”
“I didn’t want to say anything earlier with everyone else. So you’re from Florida now?” He smiles wryly. I’m growing angry now. Him of all people should now why I had to do it. He can tell he upset me and says, “I’m sorry. So how’s living with your aunt.”
“Fine. So why are you in California? Why aren’t you living with your dad? I thought you liked being a cop’s son?”
He rubs the back of his neck. “I’m living with my mom. Since my parents separated I only live with my dad in the summer and my mom for the school year.”
I nod my head. I look up to see him staring at me. He slowly lifts his hand up to my face. He swipes my hair away to the side. Her traces his finger over the scar.
“I missed you Liz. I’m so sorry about your parents.” He then takes me into his arms like he did the day of the funeral. I rest my head on his chest. I don’t realize I’m crying until I feel the dampness on his shirt.
All the memories start coming back. It was a Tuesday night. I had gotten home late after my soccer practice. It was a travel team and we were leaving to go to New Jersey for a tournament that weekend. The house is quiet when I walk in.
“Mom? Dad?” I slowly set down my soccer ball.
I hear something crash in my parents room and run up the stairs. I see my mom lying on the ground a broken lamp beside her. I run to her side and she’s weeping.
“Beth don’t do that, honey.” I look up to see my dad standing over us with a knife.
“Daddy, what are you doing?” I scream. I’m crying now.
“Beth move out of the way. I don’t want to hurt you. This is between me and your mother.” He speaks calmly as if he isn’t trying to kill my mom.
“I wont let you hurt her!” My mom is whispering for me to run, but I wont leave her.
“Do you know what your mother did, Elizabeth? Do you?” He’s screaming now. “Your mother cheated on me with some guy from work! And now, she needs to be punished.”
He charges the knife held up over his head. I stand up and try to push him away. He has a wild look in his eyes. He doesn’t notice me, he has his eyes locked on mom. He is slices through the air with the knife. He throws me across the room out of his way.
I hit my head on the dresser. My head is spinning. It’s that exact moment when my dad plunges the knife into my mom’s chest. I hear a distant screaming and realize it’s me. I crawl to my mom’s side and grab her hand. She tries to speak but nothing comes out.
My dad starts slashing with the knife again. Trying to give her the final blow. To finish her off. But he doesn’t know that her hand has gone cold. That her eyes now have that vacant stare. That my mother is already dead.
That’s when he cuts me. It slices through the skin on my neck. It’s a deep cut and the pain is horrible. I scream and fall to the ground holding it. The blood was oozing all over my hand.
He turns to me with all the anger flooding out of his expression. He stares at the blood and his eyes fill with tears.
“Beth, no! This wasn’t suppose to happen. I never wanted you to get hurt.” He is full on crying now.
My vision is slowly starting to haze around the edges. He looks at me with so much guilt and sorrow in his eyes. He then takes the knife up to his neck. Before I can scream he makes a clean cut and falls to the ground in a heap.
My mother is dead. My father is dead. Those are the last things I remember before I blackout completely.
The next time I wake up, I’m in a hospital bed with iv’s all over my arms. A man with a badge is sitting in the chair next to me. I wonder what I’m doing there when it hits me. Both my parents are dead.
The man stands up and walks over to my side. I don’t want to talk to him right now. He smiles and says, “Officer Deary. I’m sorry for your loss.” I remain silent as a tear rolls down my cheek. “Can I ask you some questions?” I nod my head.
That whole afternoon Officer Deary stayed in my room asking me questions about what happened that night. If my dad had been acting weird lately. Did I know about my mom’s affair. I tell him everything. That I had never seen it coming. That my parents were acting normal.
He tells me halfway through that for a little while they suspected me. Thought that I killed my own parents. I sit up when I hear this.
He then says, “But we proved it was your father. He had the blood all over his hands and you couldn’t have made that incision on his neck. The way it was cut, it could have only been done by that person.”
While I’m glad I’m not going to jail, I can’t stand listening to him talk about my dad like some murder. It didn’t feel right. Even though he was one.
The next week while I stayed in the hospital I had only one visitor. It was Scott. His dad was Officer Deary. He had told his son about the poor, unfortunate girl who lost her parents. He told him to go hang out with her. That after everything she’d been through, she needed some human interaction with someone her own age.
The first time he came we didn’t talk much. But he came twice everyday to come check on me. Slowly I became more comfortable around him. He was easy to talk to and really cute. We never talked about my parents. It felt good talking about normal sixteen year old stuff. I remember one night he sat in the chair beside my bed all night. We talked and he read me poetry. I had once told him that it helped me go to sleep.
The day I was released from the hospital my aunt had flown from California. She was going to help me gather all my belongings. I would go to live with her in two weeks. But that day was also the day of my parents funeral.
The cemetery felt odd. I shouldn’t be here. Why did this have to happen? Scott comes up beside me and slips his hand into mine. They read a verse from the Bible. “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4.
They then lowered the caskets into the ground. Scott held me as I cried. Everything I’d ever known was about to change.
The two weeks before I left for California, I spent every moment with Scott. The only friend I had left. We would take walks in the park and just talk. I finally talked about my parents to him. He listened every time. I still hadn’t told him I was leaving yet. I couldn’t.
The day I left I left him a note:
“I’m so sorry Scott. I know I should have told you, but I didn’t have the courage. I’m leaving to go live with my aunt in California today. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to see you again. But I want to you to know that, I, I think I might love you. I’m sorry.”
Life in California had been pretty boring. I had been excited to be starting school. But now here he was. I’m still in his arms. The flashback had only lasted a few seconds in reality, but in my head it lasted that whole entire summer.
“I missed you so much when you left Liz. I sent you all those letters, But you never wrote back.” He kissed the top of my head.
“I couldn’t bring myself to read something by you when I thought I’d never see you again. It would have felt like torture.” I had only known him three weeks, but that had been enough. The moment I left it told me that everything I had been feeling for him had actually been love. Real, tangible love.
He pulls me away slightly to look me in the eyes. “It’s going to be different this time.” He smiles, “And I read the letter you left me. Sometimes when I really missed you I would read it over and over again. But I think I might love you too.”
Tears roll down my eyes as I laugh and throw my arms out and swirl around. This was what it was like to feel loved again. To feel free and have a purpose. Scott laughs and grabs me by the waist.
“I love you, Scott.” A simple three words that could change my whole life.
The bus finally arrives and we hop on holding hands. “So people at school tomorrow are probably going to want to know how we know each other. You gonna tell them?”
“Who knows? Right now tomorrow seems miles away. I’d much rather worry about now.” He smiles and kisses my forehead.
“Now that’s what I’ve been waiting to hear.”
I deserved to be happy again. No matter what daddy did, he’d always be my dad. I couldn’t hate him forever. Mom wouldn’t want me to anyways. It was time to let go of the past. It was finally time to live in the future.