THIS IS WHERE it started, the last day of senior year. The day that she died. I like to think that she went peacefully. That she didn’t know she was going to die. That she was happy, not sad or scared. Truth is, no one knows.
The police said she suffered from blunt force trauma to the head. Essentially, someone hit her so hard in the back of the head that it left an indentation in her skull. No one knows who did it, or why. She was struck from behind, and then left on the ground in the middle of the woods to die.
I was brought in for questioning the next day, after they found her body.
I REMEMBER WAKING up that morning to go to school. It was our last day, so Sutton and I had decided on wearing shorts and, our ugliest T-shirts with big brown boots.
We video chat when she woke up and we chose our outfits for the day. This was our usual routine. Our days always started with one of us calling the other on Skype. This is when we would discuss our dreams - this usually leads to some weird conversations about goldfish babies or batman kills our families.
Eventually we would plan out our day together.
“The idea is to be remembered,” she said with a big bright smile.
I guess that’s exactly what she got.
We sang the lyrics to Valerie, mimicking Amy Winehouse as we did. “I want to be a singer,” she giggled, “like Britney Spears. I mean I have the blonde hair.”
“Sure thing, Sutt.” Sutt was my nickname for Sutton when we were joking around. She said she hated it, but I knew she secretly loved it.
I had rolled my eyes. My back was turned to the webcam on my laptop, so she couldn’t see my face. I was pulling on my shorts and had managed to miss the leg hole and went flying forward, which lead to almost ramming my face into the wall. As if she didn’t see my huge failure, she retorted my sly comment.
“Calista Browne, do not make fun of me!” I could tell she wasn’t mad; this was just how we functioned.
“You would be a fabulous singer Sutton,” I smiled with mock sincerity. She just gave me the finger and we laughed together at our silliness. Sutton then started singing again and made dramatic movements to the lyrics of the song. I laughed and sang along with her.
“See you in a minute, Cali,” the screen went black and I closed my laptop. I made my way quickly downstairs to meet her at the end of the driveway like every other day.
Before running out the door, I grabbed my messenger bag from the railing on the stairs where I kept it. Swinging around the corner, I grabbed an apple and kissed my dad’s cheek saying a quick ‘bye’ and ‘love you’ before heading out the door.
As I ran down the front steps I saw Sutton at the end of our conjoined driveway and headed straight for her. I made my way next to her on the sidewalk. We turned and started walking on our way to school. It was just like every other day. We bumped our hips together and laughed as we went off route due to our playfulness.
We started a game of ‘step on the crack and break your mother’s back’. We would laugh every time someone messed up and stepped on a crack in the sidewalk because we were distracted. We even played a small game of tag when we got close enough to the school. You would have never thought we were seniors in high school.
If I had known it would be the last time...
BY THE TIME lunch came I was starving and ready to eat anything. I made my way to the lunch line and grabbed a burger and a bottle of water before sitting down in our usual seat to wait for Sutton. When I sat down, I was met with an abundance of greetings.
“Howdy,” Matt said. He was wearing the full cowboy get up, he looked like he was pulled right out of a movie and ready to go trick-or-treating. I wasn’t very surprised as Matt was the kind of guy who didn’t care and did a lot of things out of the ordinary.
I guess it was his unique qualities that drew him into the group.
One year he wore a banana costume to school for Halloween and asked just about every girl he could find if they ‘wanted to try their reflexes with him’. There was even a rumor that he went against the school a few years back when they wanted to change the dress code. Apparently, he won over the women of the board and even got a little something extra in the end, if you know what I mean.
Though I think that one really was just a rumor...
That made my eyebrows pinch together. Then I realized that Andy was speaking to my best friend who had sat down next to me with her own burger and water.
Andy had a thing for Sutton. Not that she cared or was at all interested in him. He knew she wasn’t, but he still tried every day. The funny thing was that Andy looked just like Andy from Toy Story 3. I swear they took one look at him and said ‘let’s make him look like this boy’.
“Keep dreaming lover boy,” Sutton laughed and rolled her eyes playfully.
“Did you guys hear about the senior that got pregnant? I think her name was Mandy.” Another thing that Matt was good at, knowing things no one else knew. He always had the hottest and latest gossip.
“Yeah, and I also heard that Jack did the school nurse.”
“Isn’t her first name Rose?” We all laughed loudly after Andy said that.
“Hold me Jack.” I said, leaning into Sutton with a wide grin plastered over my face. I held my arms out in a dramatic fashion.
“Okay, okay. Seriously though, there’s a big party over at the old Kipling houses, heard it’s going to be sick. Going?”
The Kipling houses were abandoned town houses on the other side of the woods on the border. They have always been abandoned and teenagers were always having parties in them. That’s why they’re abandoned, the owner Frank Kipling couldn’t sell them.
“Oh my god, yes! We are so in,” Sutton said. I looked at her with a questioning look in my face. She just sent me one of her sparkling smiles before turning her head back to the boys and flipping her blonde hair behind her.
WE WERE ON our famous web chat after school, even though we lived right next to each other - it was easier to get both of our things done, while still being together at the same time. Sitting at my desk with my laptop in front of me, I watched the screen while Sutton showed me two cute outfits.
In her right hand she had a plain black dress with thin black straps and went to about mid-thigh, and in her left hand was a peach coloured dress with a high neck and thin straps over the shoulder.
“Well, I think the black one makes you look like a tramp and the peach one is very pretty and would be perfect for the party.”
“So pretty much you want me to wear the black one.” She laughs jokingly, setting down the peach dress on the bed and returning to the closet with the black one.
“Pretty much. Okay, my turn.”
I held up my options.
Right; over worn, ripped jeans cut into shorts and one of my dad’s old word sweaters. Left; black skinny jeans and a cropped shirt with thin straps and an Aztec print. If it wasn’t obvious, our styles were completely different, Sutton’s style being too feminine for me.
“Definitely right. It shows off your amazing legs, and you’ll be the hottest brunette at the party.”
“Well, yeah. I’ll be the hottest blonde.” She was so sure of herself, I envied her for that.
I don’t know how long we giggled, but I remember getting dressed and closing the chat before meeting her at the end of our driveway. I remember the way she put her blonde locks up in its ponytail again. Even though I threatened her emptily about how I would kick her butt if she didn’t leave it down, she still pulled her hair up with an elastic.
I remember how she was smiling like nothing bad would happen. She even said the night was going to be ‘one for the books’. I remember grabbing her hand, and I remember walking, walking, walking...
From there, it’s gone.
My memory wiped clean.