Things to do in Freehold

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Chapter Sixty-one:

Joey Grace (Morning of September 13, 1983)

“That was quite the scene you made in there,” I heard Amy’s voice say. I glanced up and there she was, making her way towards me.

“She started it,” I replied, throwing a piece of crushed up leaf on the ground. “I was just trying to be cordial.”

“Right,” she smirked, sitting down, next to me, on the bench. “So they’re trying to pin it on you, huh?”

“Can you blame them?”

“Yeah, I can, actually. You’re no killer, Joe.”

“You sound so sure,” I scoffed.

“That’s because I am sure. Liv told me about the butterfly you saved. You remember that?”

Of course I remembered it. It was the first time Liv and I had ever spoken to one another. At the very beginning of freshman year, I’d entered homeroom and was shocked to find that I was the only one in there. Am I in the right room? I immediately thought. Thankfully, a cute ginger girl had come in right as I was about to leave.

“Excuse me, is this Ms. Patterson’s world history?” I asked her as she set her books down onto a desk in the middle, front row.

“Don’t worry, there’s still ten minutes until the next bell rings. You’re in the right place,” Liv answered, taking a seat. “And if not, then we’re both completely lost.”

I smiled at her, taking my own seat, near the window. We then sat in that classroom in absolute silence for five of those ten minutes. She read some historical fiction while I tried to think of something witty to write on my desk for the next person. Then, suddenly, at the corner of my eye, I noticed something peculiar on the ground. It was an American lady butterfly with one of its wings broken.

“Hey there, little buddy,” I said to it as if it could understand me. “How did you in here?”

I got out of my chair and crouched down beside it to see if there was any way of picking it up without hurting it some more. Grabbing a notebook out of my bag, I ripped out of its pages and, ever so gently, pushed the butterfly onto it.

“What are you doing over there?” I heard Liv ask.

I ignored her, though, on account of keeping my focus, so that the butterfly slide off the paper the moment I stood up. I then carefully placed the paper on top of my desk so that it’d be ready for when I open the window.

“I don’t think you’re supposed to open those without the teacher’s permission,” Liv noted as I turned the window’s lock. She had already been the teacher’s pet by then.

“This will only take a second,” I told her, lifting the window up. Taking the piece of paper off my desk, I slowly shuffled back over to slide the butterfly onto the outside flowerbed, laid out on windowsill.

After closing everything back up, I glanced over at Liv, who had been staring at me in awe. She opened her mouth as if to speak, but before she could get a peep out, other students started rushing in. I still wonder what she would’ve said to me that day. I guess I’ll never truly know. Although, I did have a couple ideas in mind.

“She was so giddy when she came up to me, in the hallway, that day,” Amy continued, beaming. “I don’t think she realized who you were at that point, but boy, she was head over heels for you.”

I smiled as I tear came to my eye. All this talk and remembering of Liv and I’s first encounter only made me miss her that much more.

“Anyway, Tina and I have already agreed to testify on your behalf if it comes down to that,” Amy mentioned. “We’ve got your back, Joe.”

“Thanks, Amy,” I uttered, resting my hand on top of hers. Gingerly brushing it with my thumb, I could feel her goosebumps beginning to form. “For everything.”

Afterwards, I decided to get up and go back into the funeral home to look for Adriene. Hopefully, she has some more of those magical purple pills I can take. I am in desperate need of another dose.

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