J A M I E
I couldn’t believe what was all over the news when I first woke up today to drink my morning coffee, what everyone in town has been chattering about since the sun peaked over the treetops. But when I stepped into school only thirty minutes past seven, before the first bell had rung, I saw them crying– grieving, all of them.
I never really knew much about the girl, but I do know that everyone in the small town in the center of Alaska worshipped the ground she walked on. And now she’s dead, murdered late last night in cold blood. Her dad walked into her room this morning to wake his beloved daughter up for school only to find her rotting body on her bedroom floor. She was still in yesterday’s clothes, she was murdered just as she was about to change out of her school clothes, and crawl into bed to sleep on the events that took place only a few minutes before.
A boy, someone who definitely wasn’t her boyfriend, had just climbed out her bedroom window after they’d been fighting, after they nearly slept together despite her being in a serious relationship.
I know all of this because I’m that boy. The one who almost got too carried away with the most popular girl in town. The boy who realized he was doing something completely, and totally wrong. The kid who climbed out the girl’s bedroom window when she became furious with him after he told her one of his deepest secrets.
Then she was found dead the next morning, today, and no one has a single damn clue about what happened. They don’t know who killed her, or who was the last one to speak to her.
They know nothing.
All they know is that her body was found, so mutilated that they’ve classified the case as an animal attack.
But it was no animal.
“We’re putting together a hunting party to find the beast who did this to our daughter,” the man’s voice is hoarse, and his nose stuffy as he speaks to the reporter on the television. “Please, help us kill whatever monster did this to our little girl. Bring your rifles, dogs, even friends, and family. We need as many people as possible out here searching for the animal.”
Lacy Beckons has been the topic of everyone’s gossip in the small town of Pine Ridge since the day her body was found. I don’t think anyone will stop whispering, and talking amongst each other about the small family who had just lost their oldest daughter until they find whatever killed her.
Some are saying it was a bear, others have said it was a pack of wild, starving wolves. But how would a bear, or a pack of wolves get into a girl’s bedroom through an unlocked window that’s two stories up?
It can’t be an animal attack, but everyone in Pine Ridge thinks that there’s not a single chance someone in this small, quiet town can be capable of murder. But I’ve seen the kind of people that live in this town, the people who stumble down the sidewalk when the streetlights are the constant blinking yellow. I’ve met the man who’s been kicked out of every decent bar in town, or the lady who kicks stray cats across her yard with a string of angry curses.
There are strange people in this town who are capable of murder, capable of just about anything. But who am I to judge? I’m just the typical small town boy who struggles to pass his classes and keep his job and cook his own meals.
“Those poor parents,” my mom shakes her head sadly, continues working quickly with her fingers as she knits. “I can’t imagine the pain they must be going through.”
My dad grunts softly in response, turns up the volume with a fat finger before turning his attention back to the news. I won’t be surprised if they make me bundle up, and head over to the Beckons’ house along with them all because it “would be the right thing to do”.
As if my father could somehow read my mind, he glances over at me where I sit curled up on the sofa, and says in his gravely voice,
“The Beckons are a good, religious family, they deserve our help.”
My dad is definitely right, but I can’t help but shrink further into my blanket, wrap my cold, slender fingers around the fuzzy fabric in hopes I’ll warm up. The walk back home from school was cold, my socks had been soaked by the time I made it to the house thanks to my old tennis shoes that probably need replaced.
I hate the snow.
“I literally just got home, pops.” I respond stubbornly, and it earns me a scowl from my mother.
“Jamie Lawson Miller,” she scolds from her rocking chair. “That poor girl went to your school, she was a lovely young lady. We owe it to her, and the rest of the Beckons family.”
Lacy Beckons was a lot of things, but lovely wasn’t one of them. But I guess there was the Lacy Pine Ridge High saw, and the Lacy the rest of the town did. The older generation would of course say she was lovely because she kissed their asses in order to rise up in this town, to seem like she was a great girl.
So because Lacy Beckons was a ‘lovely’ girl, I uncoil myself from the warmth of the blankets, and slide off the couch onto the hardwood floor of our small cabin. My mom seems to be satisfied with my actions, and just to please her further, I force a smile on my cold face.
“Okay.” I manage to stifle the sigh that rests at the back of my throat, and step towards the coat rack by the closed door.
The sleeves of my mossy green coat are still soaked from my long walk home in the cold snow, but I slip my thin, pale arms into them anyway, goosebumps rising on my skin. I shiver despite standing in a warm cabin, and I force my sock covered feet into an old pair of duck patterned rain boots that used to belong to my mom.
I’m not going to walk the red carpet, I’m going for a walk in the cold, snowy woods.
“Alright,” I breathe, glance over at my father who pushes himself up out of his recliner with a pained groan. “You guys better bundle up, it’s pretty cold out there.”
Mom smiles at me, though it’s a sad smile that shows the pity, and sorrow in her bright blue eyes.
“That’s my boy.” She nods, and the look on her face is pride mixed with grief.
She shouldn’t be proud of me, she doesn’t know.