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“Come on! Let’s scare the nerd!” The biggest dork in school, Adam Clen, happened to be the neighbor to the most popular girl in school. Me. We walked to his house, and knew all too well that he would come with us without a second thought. We knock on his door, and ask him to come for a walk with us. He grabs his coat, and then we leave.
“Where are we going?” His nasally voice makes me want to be mean, but I have to stay nice if I want this to work. We keep heading in the direction of the woods. Only me and my two friends, Brooke and Sarah, know the woods like we’ve lived there for years.
“We want to show you a special place where we hang out,” I say, and wink at him. My friends start giggling. They are fully aware of what we are about to do. He doesn’t object when we go into the woods. It’s only when we get to the darkest depth of the woods that he looks frightened.
I tell Adam to sit on the rock that’s in front of us. This is where we bring the boys we like. We calls this rock the kissing stone. I walk closer to him, and that clearly makes him anxious. I lean down to him. I lips are about an inch away when I stop moving closer.
“Crap. I think I just got my period. Sarah and I will be right back. Brooke, watch Adam for me. We have some unfinished business here.” I wink at him and walk away with Sarah. For the rest of this plan to work, Brooke has to do her part. She has to make an excuse to leave, making sure that Adam thinks we are all coming back. She will meet us in front of the woods, where we are standing right now.
The sound of feet cracking leaves alerts us that Brooke followed through. “The nerd is on the rock. I told them I had to give you the key to my house, since you’re sleeping over. He believed me,” she says with a wicked grin on her face. The plan is easy. We leave him there for the night, and then go find him in the morning. Maybe that will get him to stop obsessing over us.
But, the plan backfires. We go to the rock the next morning, and he isn’t there. We search around the woods, and still can’t find him. Maybe he went home? It sounded logical, but in my gut it didn’t feel right. We went back to my house, and grabbed some cookies. We had the TV on, but we weren’t really paying attention.
At around 6:30, a headline caught my eye. “Boy Found Dead In The Woods” it said. I turned up the TV, and listened to what the reporter had to say. “. . . last night, two hikers found a teenage boy in the woods. The police are saying that the boys name is Adam Clen, a junior at his high school. His mother says that the last time she saw him was when he was walking out the door with three girls in his class. We are not aloud to release the names of these girls yet. The hikers say they found the boy in the river with bruises on the back of his neck and head, as if somebody drowned him. If you have any information, call the number at the bottom of your screen.” A phone number appeared at the bottom of the screen. I shut off the TV.
“This is our fault. What are we going to do?” Sarah looked as if she was going to have a breakdown, but she was in control for now.
“We aren’t going to tell anyone what really happened last night. Do you guys promise?” They both shook there heads. This was our secret promise. “Here’s our story for the police. We went to the woods with Adam, and showed him the kissing rock. We each . . . took turns with him. He walked us home after that, and we haven’t seen him since.” It seemed like a believable story. They both nodded there heads, in agreement that this is what really happened.
“What are you three girlies talking about in here?” My mom walks into the room, carrying a pan of cookies. It a wonder why I’m so skinny. She always feeds me fattening foods.
“Did you here about the next door neighbor’s son?” She shook her head, and I went on. “He was murdered last night. He was found in the river with bruises on the back of his head and neck, as if he were drowned.” Remorse washed over Mom’s face. I’ll have to make them an ‘I’m sorry’ basket.” She headed off to the kitchen, and I could hear her start to work.
School the next day was weird. Everybody acted as if there never was an Adam Clen; even the teachers. About half way through the school day, the three of us got called down to the principals office. There was a cop waiting for us. “I’m from the police. I have a few questions for you girls.”
He asked us about what happened last night, and we told him the story we made up. He seemed to believe it because he didn’t ask anymore questions. He asked us stuff like how well did we know him, did we hang out together, blah blah blah. We stuck as close to the truth as we could. Once again, he believed us.
They found the murderer a few days later. It was one of the hikers that found his body. Relieve was clear in the air around me and my friends. The secret promise still hung in the air. Nobody knew the truth about that night except us. Nobody ever second guessed us. Nobody would ever know the truth of really really happened that night except for the three of us.
Arlington Heights, Illinois
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