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Murder on the Cliffs
The tears rolled down my cheeks. What went wrong? “That isn’t why either, I am doing this because you are you! YOU HAD TO CHANGE EVERYTHING! Everything was perfect and you came in and screwed it up.” The knife in his hand sparkled, and one last time, I was thinking of mom, my mom escaping the wreck, but floating in the air instead of walking away from the charred remains of car. Then all was still, and cold cruel metal twisted in my stomach.
2 Months Earlier.
“Kylie? Will you get up? I’m sorry!” My brother James reached for my hand to pull me up. I reached for it and he hauled me up to my feet head spinning. “James, you just had to tackle me?” Even though we were twins, we looked nothing alike. James was tall and muscular with sea green eyes and blonde hair. I was built like a pixie. I was short, with pale green eyes and black hair that always was sticking out. We even acted different; I was more a livewire, always up for bonfires and parties, while James was quiet and more for looking up weird facts and studying world religions.
Grass tickled my bare feet as I ran from him, “Can’t catch me this time!” His strides matched mine but when he tried to trip me, I veered off the path and down towards the boat house. I ran on the dock, not sure what to do. His footsteps thunked on the faded wood and I jumped off the edge into the lake. I loved this feeling, the rush of air before the cool water. The ripples on the top, rocks poking my feet were just my favorite things about the lake.
I came up coughing and spluttering, he laughed at me. “You won this time sis, I wouldn’t get in for the world.” It was summer and we were at the beach house. We owned a huge plot next to a forested area and the lake, so we always played tag, or we raced. James was quicker and agile, but I was cunning and spontaneous, I would change directions climb trees, or jump into the lake without planning it.
James and I ran back and used the back door. My mother would have a litter of kittens if she knew I jumped in without a swimsuit, especially if we were racing, ‘You could of hit your head on a rock’ was what she always said. Yeah, well I could have done a lot of things. James handed me a towel and we snuck up the stairs, my mom’s quiet breathing alerted she was sleeping and I sighed in relief. He checked on mom and I changed and we quietly went back outside.
“Do you think she will wake up soon?” James’s hair was ruffled by the wind. I shook my head, my wet ponytail flipping water. He smiled and knew just what his train of thought was. Go to Byron’s, the old man down the road had charms and antiques from all over the world. And even if you weren’t there to buy he always had a food to try and a story to tell. James had always been fascinated by Byron’s odd finds and stories that were true adventures, not like our adventures on the beach or in the forest. “Let’s go, she won’t know! We will be back by five, tops! Come on Kylie.” My mom had never liked Byron, always too high in the clouds, never serious. When James was little, mom heard him say he wanted to be like Byron, and nearly had a stroke. “Mom would kill us! And we just got here, can’t we go to Greg’s instead. Maybe we can go to that bonfire tonight? Let’s wait to go to Byron’s.” James smiled, “You would like that huh? Greg?” I elbowed him in the ribs. Greg was rude and stupid, but he knew everything. “I don’t know. But I do know Byron’s won’t disappear overnight!” James smiled once more. “Fine, tomorrow then.” He made me swear.
I went back in to call my friend Alexis. She and I weren’t really good buddies, but she and I always hung out when I came to the lake, she lived here all her life, but I have been here every summer, but the last one. A chill went down my back about last summer. James and I stayed for a funeral for a friend, and we were pretty shaken up and didn’t want to come. His name was Rick and he was a partier. The night of the end of school party he was drunk, and he tried walking home. The river wasn’t too far from his house he tumbled down his head on a rock, and drowned. We were shaken up because we were the ones who told him to walk home, not stay, Rick and I dated on and off and him and James were really good buddies, we didn‘t want him drinking more, or driving home. I mean he was pretty bad, and the party was only getting wilder.
Alexis answered the phone on the first ring, “YO! This is Lexy! May I ask who is callin’?” Her cheery tone was always bubblegum pink like this. “HEY! It’s Kylie! How was your year?” Alexis’s voice was a little too pink, “Umm. It was GREAT! I am so glad you’re back though I have so much to tell you, meet me at Pinter’s?” Pinter’s Creamery was down by the shore. “Sure, be there in ten?” She hung up. Ok then, I guess yes. I pulled my hair out the ponytail that was drying, making my hair fall into awkward waves that just passed my chin; I brushed them out into big beachy waves and then left to Pinter’s.
Alexis was already ordering. Her strawberry curls were shining in the sunlight, her same faded blue swimsuit and khakis. She was always wearing that, already the boys behind the counter were checking her out, but when she saw me she ran over and gave me a hug. “I missed you. The lake hasn’t been the same!” Tears glinted in her eyes and that is when I knew something had happened while I was gone. She never got teary-eyed. She was a stone, if a puppy was being hurt, she would just go pick it up, no signs of sympathy but not wanting it to get hurt maybe even by the tail, while I would go kick the guy and sympathize with the poor thing.
The counter smelled lemony and fresh like always, and I fell into the lake swing. The shore was covered in familiar faces, the lake wasn’t a tourist spot, but families loved it. I ordered a mango ice cream, and Alexis got a sundae. The lake was sparkling like a diamond in coal. The shore was dotted in kids, playing in the sand, and teens listening to music and tanning. Alexis finished her sundae and we left towards the shore. I thought we would stop by the edge of the lake, but Alexis walked over to the cliffs. The cliffs overlooked the lake and it seemed like they were a million feet high. We scrabbled over the stones to the top, and then Alexis broke down. One second she was fine and giggly the next she was on the ground sobbing loudly. I sat next to her and hugged her, she cried on my shoulder for a while hiccupping out words that I couldn’t make sense of. She got control of herself, and said “I’m sorry.” I groaned, “What for? Crying? People cry, if you don’t, you break.” She smiled, “Break, isn’t that just too true.” “What happened last summer, when I was gone?” Alexis looked shocked. “Come on, the Alexis I know doesn’t cry. She hates the cliffs. She is always truthful, so I know you’ll tell me. What happened last summer while I was gone?” She was smiling. “Well, Murder.”
My brain stopped working. Murder? Like red rum, dead people, jail? Knifes, guns, hatred? Who? Who was killed? Who was the killer? “Who?” I asked my voice nothing above a whisper. “Jesse. He was killed, in front of my eyes.” Alexis was obviously scared crapless, “I saw the killer. And it was… I don’t know. It was someone I didn’t know, I told the police, and they drew it perfect, but no one has found him. I’m scared. I’m a loose end to this story, if he sees me I die. That messes me up beyond belief, I lock my doors and windows, and I always have pepper spray and stay in populated areas. You’re with me; also people can see us up here on the cliff. I leave threads everywhere, I say my name, I say your name loud, that way someone hears, that way someone can say ‘There was an Alexis with a girl named Kylie here.’”
I was so scared for Alexis. Her words chilled me to the bone. My very calm lake summer just shattered. “When did it happen?” My voice cracked and I realized I was crying, crying for Alexis. I didn’t talk to Jesse all but once, but Alexis was scarred for life. “I don’t know, a month? Two weeks, I haven’t been keeping track of time. When you called, I had just finished screaming. I remember screaming when he died. I couldn’t even talk after, my throat was rubbed raw from yelling.” What? It wasn’t last year, it was last month. My mind frazzled. I never thought that in a million years that when I came back, it was going to be after a murderer ripped my lakeside friend’s life apart.