Sarah was perfect. She was born seven pounds, twenty inches. No more, no less. She was never a troublesome infant. She rarely cried and was quick to learn to walk and talk. She always seemed content and showered everyone around her with hugs and kisses. She seemed to love me most of all. She always stayed close by my side, held my hand, and whispered secrets to me. She was Daddy’s little girl. She was perfect and I was proud.
In elementary, Sarah strived for those straight A’s. They seemed to come easy for her. She was well mannered and always pleasant so making friends was never hard for her. I had never once seen her throw a fit or even get angry. Her teachers always sent back words of praise on her report cards. Only once I was summoned for a parent-teacher conference but only to explain to me how well she had been excelling in her education. She then started taking advanced classes and still managed to keep her straight A status. She was my angel and I was proud.
It wasn’t until the end of middle school that she started to change. It first started in her attitude. She was no longer the cheerful sweetheart I knew. She became somber and hid away in her room like a recluse. No matter how much I begged and pleaded with her, she would not tell me the reason. I even threatened to ground her but still she would not tell me. It left me in distraught to see her this way. Why wouldn’t she tell Papa what was wrong? Why could she no longer tell me secrets? The feeling of uselessness tore me apart. I wanted to help my baby feel better but I couldn’t do a thing. It wasn’t until I turned on the T.V. that I knew what had pained her. The News Channel was in frenzy about a local accident. The story was centered on a middle school I had recognized as the one Sarah was attending. On the screen flashed the words 8th GRADE STUDENT FALLS TO DEATH. Immediately I was submerged into the story and realized this had to be the reason for Sarah’s behavior. The news anchor informed me that it was on a fieldtrip to the mountains that the student was believed to have been standing too close to the cliff side and slipped and fell to his death. The student’s name was Kevin Richardson. A name I recognized as one of Sarah’s classmates. I remember signing the permission slip for Sarah to go on that field trip as well. She must have witnessed the horrific event. With new understanding I tried to console her but she only got angry and said she didn’t even know who the boy was. She must have been in shock about the whole incident so I thought it was best to let her have some time alone.
As time went by, work caused us to move during Sarah’s high school years. Sarah never got better after the incident but she had stopped crying. Her sorrowful attitude was now replaced with irritability and anger. She was almost never home. She stayed out late and sometimes didn’t even come home. I only ever knew where she was after I had called her for the tenth time demanding where she was and where she had been. Her answer would always be that she was just staying over at a friend’s house and that she would be home the next day.
My Sarah was growing more distant from me as the days went on. She no longer wanted to stay by my side. She didn’t yearn for my praise anymore. She didn’t even want to smile my way. Many times I wondered why it was she no longer wanted to be near me. Had I done something wrong? Was I working too much to be there when it counted? I tried talking to her but she would only yell at me and tell me I was annoying which also led to many doors slamming. I noticed her grades were dropping as well. When I confronted her about it she only held a look of complacency. I didn’t know what else to do so I sent her to a counselor so that maybe he could help her. Her grades improved but she never attained straight A’s again.
I didn’t know how to control her. When I asked advice from other parents they only told me she was going through a rebellious stage. They reassured me that toward the end of her high school years she should grow out of it. I earnestly hoped they were right and even convinced myself of the fact. It wasn’t until I got a call from her school advisor that I believed there was something amiss. The advisor sat me in one of the cramped student desks and let out a deep sigh before revealing to me that Sarah had trouble focusing in school. Immediately I thought of medicines to cope with attention deficiency but the teacher assured me that wasn’t the case.
“Sarah’s been distracted by boys,” the advisor said outright.
“Boys? But she’s only fifteen,” I said. “She’s not even interested in boys yet.”
The advisor gave me a pitied smile before reaching behind her desk and retrieving three snippets of newspaper articles and plopped them down in front of me. My eyes glanced over them curiously to see that each article was related. Each with a different name but all ending with the word: suicide.
“Sarah had shown an interest in each of those boys,” She said. “I know it seems far-fetched but some believe that your daughter is the cause to all those suicides.”
“Sarah? But she’s nothing but a little angel, are you telling me that my daughter is a murderer?” I asked outraged.
“Unfortunately, it’s not me that is suspicious of your daughter but the mothers of those boys,” the advisor replied. “I called you to this meeting to warn you that there will be an investigation on your daughter starting tomorrow. The investigation was requested by all the boys’ mothers.”
I was so shocked my tongue went numb. This was so unbelievable. Sarah? A murderer? That cannot be. Where is the evidence? Surely I would have noticed something like that. It was just too strange to be true. Sarah, my angel a murderess? I think not. What a rumor! I snickered at the advisor before taking my leave. What a joke. The people here must have lost their minds, I thought to myself. Even so, I couldn’t deny this queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Could such a horror be true? I never see Sarah often anymore and she has become quite drastically different. I don’t want to believe such an accusation but I had to find out for myself. There wasn’t a right way to ask Sarah but I knew there was another alternative. It made me sick to think of it but I knew of a diary she kept tucked underneath her bed. If she were to confess to her accusations it would lie inside that little black book.
When I arrived home I made my way into her room and retrieved the diary from inside a shoe box under her bed. Holding her diary, my heart was beating wildly. I had never uncovered the words in her diary before. This was something of hers that was personal and my stomach felt sick just thinking that I was going to invade her privacy. Nevertheless, I couldn’t have anyone believing my daughter was a killer.
Gingerly opening the pages her first account was the beginning of her middle school days. This was when she was still her sweet, vibrant self. She wrote about happy times with friends and even mentioned memories of us together:
“Dad took me to the zoo today after seeing that I had made straight A’s again. He even bought me cotton candy and let me pet the llamas. I think I love Daddy the most. Don’t tell Mom though. She’ll get jealous.”
A tear escaped the corner of my eye as I remembered who she used to be. It left me pondering as I had many times before, what had gone so wrong? Why did she turn out the way she did? I flipped through a few pages until I was faced with a page that was written in all capital letters. Her hand writing had gone messy and words were written almost incoherently. There were words written everywhere even on the sides of the pages. I recognized the date as the day of the accident that happened on her 8th grade field trip when that boy slipped and fell to his death. It took me a bit to realize that the page had only one sentence that was repeated over and over again: “HE CHEATED!” Quickly I turned the page to see that there had been a more calm writing but all the words had been scratched out and the end of the book had been torn to pieces. I felt pale and leaned against the side of her bed for support. My hand fell under her bed and brushed against something hard. Curiously I pulled out the hard object only to have my heart quicken. I thought I might actually vomit. In my hand was a human skull. On the forehead ‘Kevin’ was written in black sharpie.
I heard the front door open so I quickly put the diary back in its shoe box and left it under her bed. Before I could stand up, the door to Sarah’s room opened and there stood Sarah.“Dad?” She said looking surprised and irritated at the same time. She looked like she was about to say something else but then her expression changed. Her eyes went wide and an uneasy smile spread across her lips. Then I realized I still had the skull in my hand. “You saw it, didn’t you?”