One Murder For Another

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Chapter 27

“I’m home” Mina yelled through the entryway of her home as she deposited the house keys in the bowl sat on the coffee table beside the door. She kicked the door closed behind her with her foot, yelling once more when she hadn’t received a response in turn.

“Mom?” she yelled. “Dad?”

“Kitchen!” came the unanimous reply and Mina felt her heart sink to the bottom of her stomach as she skipped her way into the large marble kitchen to find both her parents seated at the tiny island in the middle, both their arms crossed tightly over their chests. They looked furious, clear aggravation written across their faces, and Mina could only guess what they had to be angry about. Still, she pretended not to notice, pausing in the open double doorway.

“What’s going on?” she asked

“Have a seat bug.” her dad gestured to the stool sat smack dab in between them, and Mina felt as if she were going to hyperventilate.

“I- I don’t understand. What’s going on?”

“Your mother and I want to talk to you” her dad’s gentle voice broke the silent air once more, unbelievably softer this time.

“About what?” she furrowed her brows. “I-”

“Sit down Mina Joyce!” her mother’s annoyed voice boomed through the air with vigor and Mina jumped at the unfamiliar sound, and Mina could practically see the imaginary smoke spewing from both her ears like a rocket.

Mina sat without further instruction, squishing herself between the pair of them in silence, trembling under the gaze of both her parents as she tried not to wring her hands back and forth in her lap.

“We got a call from your school” her dad was the first to break the silence. “A few calls, actually.” he corrected himself, but before he could get another word out, her mother was fuming all over the place again.

“Why would you skip school Mina!” Her hands were waving through the air now. “Why woud you skip school! Twice!”

“I-I” Mina struggled to come up with a lie on the spot, so she recycled an old one. “I wasn’t feeling well so-

“And now you’re lying to my face” her mother didn’t even give her a chance to finish her faux excuse before she was raving again. “Mina, what is going on with you!”

“Nothing!” She rolled her eyes, tired of the same words floating around her over and over again. She was still the same person she had always been, and she wished everyone around her would leave her alone. “God! Nothing is going on with me!” she banged her fists down onto the marble kitchen island. “You guys are acting like I’m the only person whose ever skipped a day of school! Maybe I just wasn’t feeling it that day ok! Maybe I just wanted a break! Did you ever think about that? Did you ever think that maybe- just maybe I’m tired!”

“We’re all tired bug. We all have to do things that we don’t feel like-” he dad began to whisper beside her, and he hadn’t even gotten one word out before she was pushing her stool away from the counter, chuckling under her breath as she went.

“You guys are unbelievable. I mean, you just can’t help yourself can you?” she crossed her arms over her chest with a curt laugh. “Everything always has to be about you huh?”

“You need to stop with the guilt train Mina Joyce, it’s getting old. You know your father and I have to work, and we know you don’t like it, but the least you could do is be grateful instead of acting like a spoiled brat!”

"I’m a spoiled brat?” Mina exclaimed.

“When you skip school and cheer practice to hang out with a boy for attention then come home to your nice house to yell at your parents, then yes, you are.” she nodded her head, adding “And we already know about Khalil, so don’t try to lie about that either.”

“Well maybe I wouldn’t have to hang out with boys for attention if my own parents would pay attention to me!” There were tears burning at the back of her vision now, threatening to come cascading down at any moment.

Her mom held out her hand out, her lips pursed tightly together as she spoke. “And there she goes again, always the victim. Is this why Asher and Noah and Chris don’t come over anymore, did they finally get fed up with your constant complaints”

“Ahhh” Mins screamed out in frustration, her tears finally freeing themselves.

“We don’t think it’s a good idea for you to hang out with that boy anymore.” her dad spoke, and she had almost forgotten that he had been in the room. “It’s your senior year.” he continued “You should be focusing on your grades and cheer and preparing yourself for college. You don’t have time to be involved with trivial things like boys. You need to focus on you.”

“Don’t you see.” he voice came out choked and she tried to swallow as many of her tears as she could “Don’t you see that’s exactly what I’m trying to do! That’s why I broke up with Asher! That’s why I skipped cheer! I don’t like any of those things anymore dad! I’m not depressed, I’m not acting out, and I’m not spiraling. You guys just don’t know what I look like when I’m not doing everything you want! You guys don’t know what I look like when I’m happy!”

“But is this really happy bug?” They were never going to get it.

“You guys are never going to get it!” she hadn’t meant to scream, but she had no control over the words that escaped her lips anymore.

“Your room Mina” her mom didn’t even look up at her as she spoke, her eyes trained to the counter in front of her and her voice full of angst and tiredness. Mina was tired too, tired of everyone pretending they knew who she was. She didn’t even know, so how could they?

Slamming her bedroom door behind her, she plopped down onto her full sized bed face down, no sound escaping her lips as she she smothered herself in her own emotions. Dead people didn’t have these problems, but she had a feeling she was going to be alive a little bit longer.

She felt like she couldn’t breathe, but she couldn’t bring herself to do anything but cry harder and harder until her head was pounding with a high and the only thing she could see was pitch black darkness.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

Mina didn’t know how long she had been asleep for, but the soft sunlight that had once washed over her bedroom had disappeared.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

She rubbed her eyes with her the back of her fists until all she could see was swirls of purple and blacks as she stumbled to her feet, holding herself up by the grey and white swirled sheets of her comforter. The high you got from crying was an ethereal feeling.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

“Mina.” a voice whispered and Mina turned her head so fast that she was sure she had gotten whiplash, but she wasn’t disappointed by the face that met her.

“Khalil” she breathed.

Rushing over to the window, Mina unlocked the hinges from the inside, pushing it open with a small grunt as she grabbed both Khalil’s hands in hers, pulling him into her bedroom. She had never been so happy to see him in her life, eager for some type of company to keep her from losing her mind by herself in this room.

His hands immediately migrated to her face with a smile, his thumbs brushing over her bottom lip, but then it fell. “Have you been crying again?”

Mina felt as if she had cried more today than she had in her whole life and her light head seemed a testament to that.

“Your face is red and your eyes are puffy.” Mina’s face fell to the ground, but Khalil’s fingers danced to her chin, forcing her to meet his frustrated gaze. “Did Asher say something to you again? Did he text you.”

She sucked her lip into her mouth, steadily chewing on the inside of her cheek as she tried her best to avoid his gaze.

“Mina.”

“Shh” she whispered “My parents are downstairs.” It was if a light switch was switched on in his brain at these words.

“It was them wasn’t it?” he dropped his hands from her face, moving to cross them over his chest instead. “Your parents.”

Mina nodded defeated, falling back onto her bed and pulling her knees up to her chest.

“They found out about you skipping school?”

“And cheer practice.” She rested her chin on the top of her knees, bracing her arms tigther around herself.

“I’m guessing they didn’t take it to well huh?”

“They said- they said I-I’m- I’m spoilt and that-that I always play the victim” she choked out, unable to meet Khalil’s eyes. “She thinks it’s all a ploy for attention. She thinks I just want to be seen.”

When she looked up he was standing right in front of her now, so that she had tilt her head all the way back to see all of him, to see the anger rolling off of him in waves.

“Your parents are assholes.”

“Mhm” she hummed in agreement, her lips threatening to turn up into a smile for a moment before returning back flat. “They don’t want me seeing you anymore.” she whispered out.

Silence surround Mina’s floating words and there was a brief seven seconds where they only stared at one another quizzically, but Khalil was the first to break the silence.

“Don’t tell me you’re going to start listening to them now?”

“Of course not.” she was quick to shake her head “No.” If anything, her parent’s hatred of Khalil only made her want to be with him more, however wrong that made her. “But Wisconsin is looking really nice about now” she sighed, her mattress depressing as Khalil moved to take a seat beside her on her bed.

He intertwined their fingers once more. “All you have to do is say the word.”

She turned to him, studying his eyes for a moment before she realized that the look he held was pure seriousness. He actually wanted to run away, though he had a lot more to run away from than she did. She couldn’t blame him.

“I would follow you anywhere.” He gripped her hand tighter in his as he whispered, chills running down Mina’s spine as the words left his lips. It was those words that scared the living daylight out of her and she had no doubt that he had meant ever last word he had said.

She was gaping at him now, her mouth ajar as she desperately searched for words that didn’t want to be found. She loved the idea of running away with Khalil, of leaving everything that weighed them down behind and starting a new life away from the drama that surrounded them, but the idea also made her convulse just thinking about it.

Khalil raised their intertwined hands, pushing his lips against her skin with a wet kiss.

“Mina Joyce!”

Khalil’s hand fell from Mina’s at the speed of light as they both jumped a mile high into the air at the jarring sound of Mrs. Mendes’s voice and pounding footsteps drawing closer and closer down the hall. Mina muttered a string of curses under her breath.

“Oh my god!” she exclaimed grasping the material of Khalil’s thin T-shirt in her hands in her anxiousness. “That’s my mom! You have to go! Now!”

Khalil immediately began to steer towards the open window he had snuck in through, but Mina pulled him back before he could even make any headway.

“There’s no time!” she whispered aggressively, still grasping Khalil by the thin material of his shirt as she attempted to drag his towering skinny figure to her closet, her mother’s footsteps practically outside her bedroom door now.

Khalil opened his mouth to say something, but Mina quickly shoved her hand against his mouth before the slightest sound could leave his lips, pushing him into her clothes with a hard shove. He stumbled backwards, hitting the wall with a slight thud and they both winced at the sound. “I’m sorry” she quickly apologized before sliding her closet doors shut, catapulting herself onto her bed with her phone just as the sound of a loud knock on her bedroom door reverberated through the room.

She tried her best not to sound guilty and out of breath. “Come in!” she called. The door creaked open and her mother was left revealed on the other side, standing accusatorily with her arms crossed over he chest. Her eyes roamed the room and Mina held her breath in anitcipation.

“Yes?” she asked snippily, and her mother scoffed her eyes, once again, falling to where Mina lay guiltily across her bed.

“Still throwing a temper tantrum like a child I see?”

“Do you need something?”

“Watch your tone!”

Mina bit the inside of cheeks hard to keep herself from lashing out and she realized the longer she stayed in this house, the longer the idea of running away with Khalil was starting to appeal to her more and more. “Sorry mother” she apologized, her sarcastic tone evident, but her mother payed no attention.

“You have a guest.” she sighed.

“A guest?” Mina repeated, lying her unopened phone face down on her comforter now.

“Asher is standing in out living room looking very distraught.”

Mina ran her hands frantically through her hair, her eyes darting over to her closet door in apprehension, and she hoped her mom hadn’t caught her momentary lapse of weakness.

“I really don’t feel like talking to him right now” Mina muttered, her head still trapped between her hands. “Can you- can you just tell him I don’t feel well or something.” Even as the words left her mouth, Mina knew it was a lost cause.

“I’m not going to lie to your boyfriend for you Mina Joyce, and I don’t appreciate you asking me to do so!”

Mina bit down on her cheeks harder now, dropping her hands from her hair. “He’s not my boyfriend” she said through clenched teeth, her eyes boring into her mother’s with an indisposed anger.

“Right” her mother nodded, her lips pursed tightly together. “Well!” she clasped her hands together tightly “I’ll send him up then” she turned to go, but stopped short before her overpriced heels met the carpeted gray hallway. “And Mina, close your window! It’s the dead of fall! Are you trying to catch a cold?”

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