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Patiently, we sat waiting. The plastic chair beneath me was hard and uncomfortable. The TV was on CNN but no one was watching. Who could watch TV when someone you loved was on an operating table? I shut my eyes tightly. I dug the palms of my hands into my eyeballs to try and make the mind-splitting headache go away. The red needle of the clock moved at a snail’s pace on the vomit green wall. A doctor passed the room, pausing for a moment. We looked up. He kept walking. He was only looking at something on the TV. He wasn’t bringing us the news we wanted to hear: that Sarah was okay.
Todd stared at the EMERGENCY sign hanging above the double doors that swung back and forth as nurses and doctors came and went. Anna snapped her fingers, an annoying habit she’s had since we were kids. No one had the heart to tell her to stop. Jack, Sarah’s brother, paced back and forth. Kiana folded her hands and her lips moved in a silent prayer. Sarah’s parents held on to each other tightly, scared to let go.
I stared down at my clothes. My shirt was rumpled. My jeans, Sarah’s jeans, were bloodied. I dug into my pockets for the key. It was attached to a Mickey Mouse key chain I’d given Sarah on her 6th birthday. The key was hers. It was for her car. I closed my fist around it. It cut my palm but I felt too much guilt to feel any other pain. Guilt. The guilt made my heart beat faster and my palms sweat. It made my vision blur dangerously. It made my head spin.
I think I killed Sarah.
“Bridget.” I turned to Sarah. Her big blue doe eyes that looked like pieces of the sky blinked at me. “Did we have to come?”
“You promised you would stay for the party.” I said. I pulled at the hem of my skirt. Maybe I shouldn’t have worn it. Sarah sighed loudly. “I don’t want to wear a skirt!” I whined. She looked at me fixedly. I swear Sarah can read your mind when she looks at you like that. Sarah began to walk to the side of Todd Baker’s house. I followed her unsure why she was leaving the front entrance. She began to unbutton her jeans and slip them off. “What the hell are you doing?” She blew her blond bangs out of her eyes exasperated.
“Switching with you.” She explained. I slipped my skirt off and hoped no one would come around the corner anytime soon. She passed me her jeans and pulled my skirt on. We laughed happily looping out arms together and walked around the corner to join the crowd inside the house. The music filled my ears right away and Sarah pulled me to her, quickly yelling in my ear. “2 hours and we’re outta here!”
Friday- June 1st
Todd was leaning towards me and I swished my drink around giggling. From the corner of my eye I saw Sarah making for the front door. “Be right back, Todd.” I said touching his arm gently. I ran and caught Sarah’s elbow. “Are you leaving already?”
“I don’t feel that well. I’ll catch you later.” I gave her a quick hug. Sarah left quickly and I made my way back to Todd. “Where were we?” I asked him. After a few minutes of talking he pulled me to him and tucked a hand in my right front jean pocket –Sarah’s right jean pocket. He pulled out keys. I blinked, surprised. “Those are Sarah’s keys.” I quietly said. I made my way through the groups of people drinking and smoking. “Anna, did Sarah leave yet?”
Anna nodded. “She like just left... She was walking. Something about you having her keys…” I swallowed past the lump in my throat. I had a bad feeling. A knot in my stomach seemed to grow and tighten.
I put Sarah’s car key in the ignition. I was going to Sarah’s house, just to make sure she got home safely. The streets in which I was driving were very pedestrian-friendly. Cookie cutter neighbourhoods never look unsafe...
Todd’s place wasn’t far from Sarah’s, a 5 minute drive maybe 25 minute walk. I had told him I’d be right back. Kiana and Anna were waiting for me back at Todd’s too. I wanted to find Sarah, make sure she was okay, and maybe then I would be able to breathe again. I fumbled with the volume on the stereo turning it on and off. Finally I left it on and turned it up to the max. At a stop sign I saw a group of guys run by in the other direction. They looked behind them nervously. I couldn’t hear what they were saying but I turned up the street from which they came. It was a dead end for cars but I’d walked in the park with the community pool ten thousand times before . I parked the car. My hands fumbled as I reached to unbuckle my seat belt.
I couldn’t move quickly enough and I stumbled even walking at a normal pace. The car keys, I held tightly in my hands. Around the bend was the small path, the one Sarah and I frequently took as a shortcut home. It was the scariest part of the walk. Sinister and dark thoughts entered my mind. What if someone came at me? I heard the crickets and the sound of cars in the distance. No one was around. I turned the corner and from the pool lights slightly further away I saw something twisted at an awkward angle. I saw blond hair. I saw blood. I saw a white top and a skirt, my skirt . I whirled around and threw up. This can’t be happening. Oh please. The keys fell to the ground beside her. Her eyes fluttered, her long eyelashes wet with tears that still ran down her face.
“Bridget,” she whispered. I knelt beside Sarah, blood staining her jeans.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. We were graduating in two weeks. Sarah and I were going to Europe. We were going to go see the Venice Carnival someday. We were going to the same university. We were like two sides of the same coin.
Instead, the smell of hospital was everywhere. Why did I have to complain about my skirt? We stood up as a doctor entered the room and paused as if to speak. There were no sounds. I could not smell hospital anymore. I could only see the doctor shaking his head.