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The Last Sunset This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Henry looked through the window across the wooden dining room table he was sitting at. He saw the golden sun sinking beneath the trees. It was his favorite kind of sunset tonight; there were darkened clouds that made it look almost like it was going to rain, but when you saw the last rays of the sun shining through them you knew that it wouldn't. The most prevalent colors were light pink and orange, but there were hints of deep purple creeping in as the darkness took over. It was mesmerizing, and he almost forgot about his friends sitting around him at the table. He only remembered about them when he saw a hand waving in front of his face, between him and the beautiful scene.


“Henry? Hello?” he heard David say. He snapped back into reality and saw his three friends laughing at him.
“You always have been a sucker for sunsets,” Elyse stated.


Henry turned to her with a smile on his face. He saw Elyse’s perfect white smile. Tonight she was wearing a baggy gray sweatshirt with a basketball printed on it. He had always teased her about this sweatshirt, because it belonged to her ex-boyfriend (she said it was “too comfortable to give back”). To complete her typical Friday night outfit, she had on black Nike running shorts, thick blue socks, and her light brown hair was thrown in a messy bun. Henry had always found Elyse gorgeous, but it was not like he could ever tell her that. Elyse loved David; he was built like a jock, with dirty blonde hair and soft blue eyes. He had always been easy for anyone to talk to, which was probably another reason Elyse loved him over Henry. Henry was fooling himself if he thought anyone would like him. Who would like a tall, gangly, pale twenty five year old like him? Nobody, that's who. Then there was Noah. He was the last person that arrived to Henry's house that night, which wasn't a surprise because he was almost always late. He had dark brown hair, not quite as dark as Henry’s, but still dark. He had a little bit of color in his skin, although you could still tell he spent most of his time playing video games. People often mistook Henry and Noah for siblings because of their looks, but they couldn't be more different personality wise.


The four friends spent most Friday evenings like this, just sitting around Henry’s dining room table. That night they talked about many things. They talked about who was dating who, what new songs they were listening to, and anything else that had caught their attention during the previous week. The friends started to quiet down as it started to get really late; the sun had sank completely and the only light being cast on the faces of Noah, Henry, David, and Elyse were from the glowing fire of the candle in the middle of the table. They all were sitting silently and peacefully when suddenly they heard the distinct sound of a candle being blown out. Suddenly they were sitting in complete darkness and all they heard were each other's voices.


“What's happening?” yelled Elyse.
“Someone turn on a light,” David said.
“Who blew out the candle?” Henry said.
“Real funny guys,” Noah stated.


When everyone stopped talking there was half of a second of silence, and then they heard a gasp and the loud thud of a body hitting the floor. David groped around the walls until he found the light switch and flipped it on. This time there were three gasps as the men in the room saw Elyse lying on the floor, in a pool of crimson red blood, with a kitchen knife stabbed through her stomach. Noah, Henry, and David looked at Elyse, then looked at each other. One of them stabbed Elyse, one of the men thought. Who would do this? thought another of them. Don’t look suspicious. You don't want them to know it was you, thought the last one.


Noah quickly reached for into the pocket of his blue jeans for his phone. His hands shaking, he dialed 911 and waited for them to answer.


“We need an ambulance immediately. Someone...” he said as he looked at his two friends, “stabbed my friend.” As he gave them the address of Henry’s house, David leaned over Elyse, who was unconscious from the pain, and  tried to sop up the her blood with with a dish towel that had been on the counter. It was worthless, but it distracted him from what had happened. Henry sat at the kitchen table in shock. Noah remained on the phone with the responder until the blaring sound of the ambulance and police cars came down the street. Soon Noah, Henry, and David were being handcuffed and forced into separate police cars. From the back of the police cars the three men watched as Elyse was rushed out of the house on a stretcher. Soon afterwards the police officers returned to their cars and the men were being driven back to the police station where they would be questioned.
Noah was the first to be questioned. He told the police everything that had happened that night. He told them the truth; they had been sitting at the table when suddenly someone blew out the candle and the next thing they knew Elyse was on the floor with a knife in her stomach.


“Okay. Now could you think of any reasons that someone else, perhaps David, would do this to Elyse?” the officer asked Noah. 


“Well David and Elyse have been dating for over a year now…” he replied, “They don't always get along. In fact they fight a lot of times over silly stuff. I remember once, about three months ago, David and Elyse got into a fight and Elyse threatened to leave him. Then David told Elyse that if he couldn't have her, no one could have her. It seemed like an empty threat, though. That was the only big fight I can remember. They made up though, they always do.”


“And could you think of any reason that Henry would do it?” the officer asked Noah. Noah didn't know what to say. He had never been in a situation like this before and he didn't know how much information he should share. He could say something from a long time ago that may put the wrong thoughts in the police officer's head. After a long moment of silence, Noah heaved a long sigh and replied to the officer.


“A long time ago, Henry told me he liked Elyse. He claimed to have had strong feelings for her for a long time. And he was upset when David said that he liked her too, and that he was going to ask her out. I think he is okay with it now, but I don't know. He doesn't really share stuff with anyone nowadays,” Noah finally said.
“Thank you. Now is there anything else you want to tell me?” the police officer said as he was scribbling information on his yellow note pad. Noah thought about it. He was thinking about saying something to defend himself, but he didn't want  to look suspicious so he decided not to say anything.   


“No, sir,” he said, adding the ‘sir’ just to be safe.


“Okay then,” the police officer said as he looked to the window and waved for the guards to come retrieve Noah. Soon Noah was back in his temporary cell, sitting on the floor and leaning his head against the cool metal of the bed. He heard the shuffling sound of footsteps, and looked up to see David being led in the direction of the interrogation room, with two guards on either side of him. David looked over at Noah and stared for as long as he could, until the wall blocked his vision. As David continued walking, he realized that he was shaking. He was used to being nervous before a big game, but nothing had prepared him for how he felt right now. Before he knew it he was already sitting in the small room with a police officer sitting across from him with a yellow note pad.
“David, can you start out by telling me what happened before the attack? Give me as much detail as you can, please,” the police officer said to David. David told him everything about that night, and the police officer was pleased because it perfectly matched with what Noah had told him. The police officer proceeded to ask him the same questions that he asked Noah.


“Could you think of anything that may have motivated Noah to hurt Elyse like this?” he said.


“Not really. Noah and Elyse have always been good friends. They have never fought that I remember of. I can’t think of any reason that he would hurt my Elyse,” David said in an unsteady voice. The officer scribbled something down on his notepad and sighed.


“Absolutely nothing? Anything? It doesn’t have to be a big reason,” he said.


“Well Elyse’s brother was engaged to Noah’s sister, but he dumped her before the wedding. Noah has told Elyse that it was okay and that he knew it wasn’t her fault, though. I know he wouldn’t stab Elyse because of that though. You don’t have to write that down,” David said nervously, trying to protect his friend. The police officer was already writing down what he had said, so there was nothing he could do. The officer proceeded to ask about Henry and what ‘motives’ he could have had.


“Henry loved Elyse. They have known each other since they were small. He told me that he had had feelings for her since he was a young boy, but he told me that after Elyse and I had developed a relationship. I know he was mad at me for that but he said he was over her. If I was him, I wouldn't want  her to be with anyone else and I might have done something to stop the relationship. Maybe that's what he did,” David said. David and Henry weren’t ever as close as he was with his other friends, so he had no problem telling the police this information.
“Okay. Just one more thing. How have you and Elyse been?” the police officer said, asking as if he was an old friend.


“We are good. We always are,” David said, as if it were obvious.


“Do you ever fight? Even small fights that are resolved quickly?” the officer questioned.


“We don’t ever fight. Not even over small things. And it’s none of your business anyway!” David said angrily. He didn’t need police officers trying to get information on their relationship. They were trying to find out who attacked Elyse, not be the couple’s counselor. Then he saw guards coming in the door. David stood up, glad to be getting out of the interrogation room. The guards led him back to his room where he layed down on his bed. He tried to fall asleep so he could just forget all about what was going on, but he was scared of getting nightmares so he ended up staring at the gray metal bars of the bunk bed above him.


While David was laying in bed, Henry had started to be questioned. Like his friends before him, Henry sat there and explained what happened the night of the attack. Once again, the police officer was pleased to find that the stories matched up. Henry then sat there and told the police officer that there was no reason that Noah would hurt Elyse. When the cop asked about David, Henry didn’t really know how to respond. He knew that Elyse and David got in small fights a lot, but none of them were big enough to cause a real problem. Regardless, he ended up saying that they often got in small fights that were resolved within the a days. After writing down some information on his notepad, the police then said something he wasn’t expecting to hear.


“Now what are your feelings for Elyse?” he was asked.
“What do you mean?” Henry said, taken by surprise by the question.
“Do you have any romantic feelings for her?” the police officer asked.
          

“That is none of your business,” Henry replied, “I’d like to leave. Can I leave now?”


The police officer was writing furiously on his notepad, but he waved for the  guards to come retrieve Henry and take him back to his cell.


Once all three men had been questioned and were back in their cell, the police officers started reviewing the information they had from the interrogations and proof from the scene. The answers from the three friends overlapped, and didn't give much help to solve the case. But there was one more resource they had that could give them all the information they needed.


   ___________________________________
       

“We just talked to Elyse this morning. She is in the hospital and is very weak, but she is going to live,” the police officers stated to the three nervous men in front of them. “She knows who attacked her. It was probably not the smartest idea to whisper in her ear before you stabbed her. But you made that mistake, and now you will be going to jail for a long long time.” The officer walked toward one of the men and handcuffed him. “You are under arrest for attacking Elyse Wilder,” the cop said to the man, while his friends watched him being walked away from them, not knowing when they would see him again. As the guilty friend was walked out the door, he saw that it was the beginning of nightfall again. Then he realized it was his favorite kind of sunset. The kind with the dark clouds that made it look like it was going to rain, and orange and pink that he knew would soon turn to deep purple. While he was watching this, he wondered if he would ever see his favorite kind of sunset again.
 




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