“Olivia-Grace Johnson.” Only seven months, three weeks, five days, and fourteen hours ago, I was hearing my name being called as I walked onto a huge stage to accept my degree from MIT.
Now I’m hearing my name being called by the man in the coffee shop. By the woman working in American Eagle. By the couple who is sitting across the room from me at my favorite restaurant. By my brain. I can’t go there anymore. Not to the coffee shop, not to American Eagle, not to my favorite restaurant.
Not to my brain.
They’re contaminated. They’re contaminated by people who I cannot trust. They’re contaminated with my thoughts.
I feel high. High in the sky. Where I can’t get any air, where I can’t breathe, where my head will explode.
I could not believe this moment was finally happening! Years of hard work, dedication, and A LOT of coffee, and I am finally graduating from my dream school. I am graduating from MIT.
I accept my certificate, shake President Reif’s hand and pose for a picture. I can hear my moms out in the audience screaming louder than any other parents screamed for their kids. I look over the edge and see my boyfriend of three years, Josh, waiting to get his certificate, smiling up at me.
MIT has been my whole life. I got to pursue my dreams. I met so many amazing people. I found the love of my life. Most importantly though, I found myself.
After graduation, my moms threw me a huge party. They invited all my aunts, uncles, cousins, and even some of my closest friends from high school. It was so extravagant, but, then again, so were my moms.
I look around the room and see everyone at the party, supporting me. These people have stuck by my side for the past few years while I was away meeting my goals and achieving my dreams. I loved everyone here so much for always believing in me. I loved my moms for making me feel so special. I loved my boyfriend for helping me keep my sanity for the past four years.
I wake up, more scared than I’ve ever been in my entire life, from a deep sleep in my childhood bedroom. The gunshots came from in my moms’ room downstairs.
“Mom?” I call out hoping, praying, to hear my mother’s voice. But nobody answered.
I slowly and cautiously make my way downstairs to see what was happening. I look around the corner, and see Josh.
“Josh!” I sighed, relieved that it was someone I loved who maybe had an explanation for what was happening. “Thank God it’s you! You have no clue how happy I am to see you. Did you hear that? Do you know what’s going on?”
“Olivia! I didn’t know you were staying here tonight,” he replied. He looked really nervous. He was probably scared about the gunshot, too.
“Yeah, I was going to go home with Aunt Stacy, but I really just wanted to spend the night with my moms.”
“Yeah. Speaking of my moms, have you seen them? The shot should’ve woken them up too. I honestly have no clue what’s going on. My moms never kept guns in the house. I’m gonna go look for them.”
“Liv, wait! Maybe I should go look. I wouldn’t want you getting hurt.” He grabbed my arm tight and pushed me back from walking.
“Josh, I can take care of myself.” There is nothing I hate more than being held back and being made to feel like I can’t take care of myself. I shove past him, on my way to my moms’ bedroom.
Everything goes black.
I wake up in my bed. I have a horrid headache and my body is sore.
I remember having a terrorizing dream. I found my moms dead in their room. Nothing made sense.
I get out of my bed and head downstairs. In the kitchen, I spot a note on the fridge.
Liv, I am so sorry. I cleaned up. It had to be done. Their way of life is unnatural. I am also beyond sorry for knocking you out. I thought you were going to scream and I panicked. I hope you understand, and can maybe find it in your heart to forgive me. I will always love you. -Josh
I run to my moms’ room. Their sheets had been stripped. On the wall, splattered--
“Olivia, are you with us?”
I hear him, but I just stare straight. Acknowledging the fact that he is asking me questions about the murders of my moms makes it more real. “I gave you the note. I told you everything that happened that morning. I told you I never would’ve thought that he would do something like that. I told you I don’t know where he is. I have funeral arrangements to make, for two people. Can I just go home?”
Detective Maren looked at me. He felt sorry for me. Another thing I hate. He sighed, “Yeah, go home and get some rest. If you think of anything that can help us, call me. You have my number.”
I stand up from the cold, hard, metal chair. I walk out the door, and as I do, a weight is lifted off my shoulders, and a new one replaces it. Leaving the questioning room allows me to forget the awful situation: my mothers were murdered, and their killer was my boyfriend. It was all because “their way of life is unnatural”. It was unnatural. As I leave though, I step into the real world where I feel unprotected. I feel vulnerable. I feel weak. Without that two-way, bulletproof mirror, I was scared.
I unlock the door to my aunt’s house. Staying in mine would just be too painful. She worked most weekdays, so I had it to myself mostly. At first, I thought that would be great. I would be alone to focus on my thoughts. Then, as time went on, being alone with my thoughts was what turned coming “home” everyday a chore. I was stuck to play everything over and over in my mind. How long had he been planning this? Did he just use me to kill my moms? Could I have stopped it?
Will he come back for me?
I walk through the living room and into the kitchen. I lay my keys on the counter and sit down at the breakfast table to work on the arrangements. I had a ton of meetings to go to and even more paperwork.
Dread settles in over my whole body. I can almost feel each muscle tense up starting in my legs and going up to my shoulders. I don’t turn around. “Get out.”
“Olivia, please listen to me.”
“I never want to hear your voice again, Josh. I said get out,” I say as I get my phone out and start to call the Detective Maren. If I called 911, I wouldn’t be able to speak to them, and it might take them longer to respond. I know that if I call Detective Maren, I could just let him listen to our conversation. He could rush right over because he lived just across the street.”
“What are you doing?” He tore the phone out of my hands. “Oh, Liv, you wouldn’t call the cops on me, would you?” He bends over and whispers in my ear, “You love me, Liv. People who love each other don’t tattle on each other.”
“Back up, Josh,” I bark through my clenched teeth.
“What’re you gonna do, go tell your mommy? Oh yeah, I forgot. I killed her. Actually, I killed both of them.”
I turn around and punch him harder than I thought I ever thought I could.
He rammed me against the wall and put wrapped his hands around my throat. “You want me to kill you too?”
Just then, Detective Maren storms through the door and tackled Josh off of me.
“Josh Parker, you’re under arrest for the murders of Pam and Susan Johnson.”
“Olivia, are you still with me?” My therapist was trying to help, I know, but it’s no use. My life is over. I will never trust another person ever again. Ever.
“No, I am not with you.”