I lie down on my bed and stare up at the wooden ceiling of my small apartment. I’m still reeling in shock after the disconcerting dream, after watching the news. I’m busy trying to console myself when I get a call from my sister.
“Hey. How are you holding up?” Jane asks the second I pick up my phone.
I remember what I saw on TV. I remember the cornered-off crime scene and the red tape. I remember my best friend’s name escaping the lips of reporters and police officers. I remember seeing Bryan, my friend, being arrested before being led to a police car.
“I’m confused,” I answer her somewhat truthfully. “This can’t be real.”
“Please tell me that you are not doubting the police and their investigation. Please tell me that you’re not doubting our own mother!” Jane raises her voice, expressing her own agitation and frustration. “Bryan’s guilty. The evidence is all there.”
“I don’t doubt Anne and the other detectives; I doubt the evidence,” I eventually reply.
“Mary,” Jane sighs in defeat, “I know this is hard but please don’t go and see him until his trial, not until we know the truth.”
That’s a promise I may not be able to keep.
“You’ve known Bryan all your life too. Why are you so quick to turn on him?” I ask her. “He grew up with us. He’s like our brother.”
“But he’s not. He’s not our brother,” she reminds me. “Liz wrote his name in blood while dying. How can you defend him? He’s the only Bryan she knew.” Jane pauses for a second as if waiting for me to argue, but I don’t. “You heard what mom said – it’s one of the most barbaric and bizarre cases she’s ever worked on before,” she adds. “And, Mary…” she drawls, “Liz was my friend too.”
Her words get to me and I immediately end the call. I drop my phone on my bed and sit up, suddenly feeling sick to my stomach. I can’t stop thinking of Liz in her last moments, and thanks to my sister, I can’t stop seeing Bryan take her life.
Bryan does have a temper but not many know of it because he’s passive-aggressive. His anger builds and builds until he eventually explodes over something small because of an event that happened months ago.
I reluctantly pick up my phone when it vibrates again. I see all the unread messages from friends and family and become filled with dread. I’m being dragged into this whether I like it or not.
I glance down at the message from Jane:
‘He also has no alibi.’
That doesn’t automatically make Bryan a murderer.
I type back a response:
‘No criminal records either.’
‘None that we know of.’
She sends me a link. I click on it and a picture opens up. It’s a photo of Liz’s mom sobbing while speaking to the police.
Jane sends another message:
‘She’s broken. Her daughter is gone and she’s never coming back. This is y I can’t and won’t defend Bryan.’
What happened to innocent until proven guilty?!
Jane bombards me with one last message:
‘I’m not telling u what to do. I just want u 2 b careful. There’s a reason he’s the main suspect.’
Stressed and downcast, I switch my phone off and try to study for my criminology test tomorrow but it feels pointless.
I decide to sleep instead but that also proves to be futile. I toss and turn; thoughts plague my mind and sleep alludes me. When my eyes do finally close, vivid and terrifying nightmares rack through my brain. I wake up in a cold sweat, unable to go back to sleep.