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A Sacrifice to No One

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Picture this: four teens walking through a forest at night, their only source of light a tiny LED flashlight, the kind of cheap things you clip onto a key chain thinking it'll come in handy, but it never does. Seems pretty cliche, like in the horror movies, right? I agree.

Right now, my best friend and I are cutting through the forest to get to the old grade school, along with two girls we know. I was the only one smart enough to bring a flashlight, even if it is merely the size of a large man's toe nail.

“What was that?” I blurt out, flicking off the light.

Carrie screams, grabbing her friend's arm tight. She only realizes it was a prank when I start laughing, turning the flashlight back on. Her friend giggles a little, looking right at me. That girl's not the sort to giggle, really. Cecily De Genarro doesn't giggle or flirt or twirl her hair. She's to the point. That's why we all call her Lily, because it's easier to say than Cecily. It's quicker and simpler. Just like her.

I realize we all fit a horror movie stereotype. Carrie's the dumb blonde, that one's obvious. She's smart enough in some ways, but for the most part, she's slow on the uptake, gullible, and a total airhead. My buddy, Zac, is the goofball. I'm his best friend, the male lead. I'd be an idiot if I didn't cast myself as a lead role – everyone likes to think they're the main character of their own life. Still, I'm the smart-ass, who's sarcastic but can think on his feet, like the main guy in the movies.

Lily.

Hers is a little harder to decipher. She could be the mysterious girl no one really understands, who could be good or bad, really. But I know her, and understand her, because we've known each other since we were toddlers.

I watch her for a while as we walk. She hangs back beside me, looking a lot less nervous now that we're deeper in the trees. Her walk doesn't have a spring to it, or a confidant swagger, but her steps are sure. She must be the female lead. The mostly unremarkable girl who's smart enough, funny enough, pretty enough, but not too much of anything. If she was funnier, she'd be fighting with Zac for his niche. Smarter, with me. Prettier, with Carrie. Although, I know that one's bullshit, too. She can be funnier than Zac, and smarter than me, when she wants to be. And in my eyes, she's always been prettier than Carrie.

I rub my forehead, still baffled. She can't be the tough girl, because I've seen her cry over roadkill. She can't be a sweetheart, because she's got too much fire.

“You defy stereotypes,” I want to tell her. “Your shoe's untied,” I actually say.

I crouch beside her, holding the light close to her shoe as she fumbles with the laces. She has spidery hands, but the cold has made them slow and awkward. But she's not slow and awkward. Realizing Zac and Carrie didn't notice we've fallen behind, she runs to catch up with them silently, and grabs Carrie's shoulder.

Carrie screams, right on cue.

“You are so gullible,” Lily laughs.

I spot the white first, squinting into the distance at it. Before I can figure out what it is, Lily screams. I look over, only to find her clutching her neck, crouched on the ground, still shrieking. She emits one long wail, like a siren, going on far longer than humanly possible.

Carrie takes off running, tripping over a rock about twenty feet away. She falls to the ground sobbing, utterly useless.

“What do we do?” I shout over Lily's noise.

Zac is white as a ghost.

A ghost.

I scramble forward, illuminating the whiteness. Glaring at me is a white rope, stained dark in places. On the ground, a scattered mess of bones gleams. A torn-up jacket sits in the middle. I recognize it from somewhere.

Zac vomits, while I return to Lily's side. Sure enough, she's wearing the same black jacket. Now, though, she's not crouching, but lays flopped on the ground, face in the dirt, screaming into the earth.

I do the only thing I can think to. I scoop her up, carrying her closer to Carrie, further from the remains and the rope. Her legs kick in the air, almost sending her flying out of my arms. Her mouth is opened wide, eyes scrunched up. As abruptly as she started screaming, she stops.

“What's going on?” I demand.

She begins to tear up. “Put me down. I'll tell you everything.”

Cecily De Genarro died a year ago. She was a human sacrifice made by a lunatic to no one in particular. He found her when she was reading at the dock. He drugged her and she woke up in a dark room, with chalk drawings on the ground. She was alive through most of it. Alive and feeling the most pain she ever had.

He soaked her hair in wine first. Then he cut off her ears. She was crying, asking him why on earth he was doing this. So he cut off her tongue. He drugged her again, but this time, it was lethal.

She woke up dead. It took an effort to get up, and she realized when she looked down, that she'd left her body behind. Her first thought was that the cliches were right. Her second was pure terror.

The man took her body out to the forest, where he hung it from a tree. She could see the blood was all gone, and her makeup had been removed, her hair braided. It all confused her. He killed her, but he took pains to make her look nice. That's how she found out she was a sacrifice. But no deity came. She camped out by the corpse for a week, and nothing and no one came.

She couldn't quite get a handle on being dead. She didn't want to be gone. So, she wasn't. She went to school like she used to, getting high grades. She 'ate' her meals alone, still in denial. She spent ten hours each night on her back in bed, imagining herself asleep. Her friends and family didn't have a chance to think she was gone.

Until today. Seeing the remains of what she was has shaken her up. I can still see her, feel her, hear her, but she can't be present anymore. She's here, but not really here.

“I don't want to be dead,” she says, pushing back her dark hair.

“No s***,” I mumble. No one wants to be dead, really. Not in their heart of hearts, not deep deep down. Maybe they want to be absent, or to be missed, but not dead.

She's mad now, yelling, “I'm dead and this is how you react?”

“Tell me, do you honestly feel dead?”

She nods. “It's hard to move now. Hard to speak. I'm not breathing.”

“Lily.”

“Can I borrow your phone?”

I hand it to her and watch as she dials the numbers. She looks prettier now that I know she's gone. She's not an average high-school girl anymore. I wonder if she knows what's going to happen when everyone finds out she's dead. For the next few years, everyone will know her name. Everyone in town, maybe the county, maybe the country. She's the hero in this horror movie – er, heroine. The brave girl taken down by forces greater than she. There's no way she'll be forgotten forever.

But she'll be frozen. She already is. She's going to be fifteen forever. The rest of us will age and get married and have kids and grow old. All while she's immortal at fifteen.

It hits me now how much I'm going to miss her. Surely, this moment in the forest can't last forever. When her ghost, her imprint, is gone, I don't know what I'll do. Probably cry. Probably grieve. Definitely, I'll remember the to-the-point girl who only giggles when she's scared.

“Hi,” she says into my cell phone, finally, “my name is Lily De Genarro, and I'd like to report my murder.”



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VanaheimThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 24, 2012 at 6:42 pm
Loved the ending! You could still work on your grammar, and avoiding cliches. Otherwise, nicely done!
 
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