James’ house was cozy. Cozy as in small. Cozy as in old. But I appreciated the change of scenery. We crawled into his bed and I immediately felt grateful for the freshly changed sheets at the hotel. I could tell by looking around that there hadn’t been a woman in this house in weeks – maybe months. But I was so tired I was able to sleep through the musky smell of a working man. Ignore the whirring sound of the ceiling fan. I started to dream.
At this point, I knew it. I had no doubts. I parked a few houses down Stacy’s street and waited in her backyard until I saw Matt sneak out the backdoor.
Suddenly, I’m inside. Careful not to touch anything. I hear music coming from Stacy’s bedroom. She’s half humming, half singing. I hear the shower running. Or a blow dryer. Perhaps it’s a vacuum cleaner. My ears are buzzing. All I know is the next sound I can actually make out is a high pitched scream.
Dark red blood. Everywhere. I can’t see straight. Suddenly, I’m aware of the knife in my hand and I drop it onto the white kitchen tiles. More blood spatters. It’s on my hands, my feet, and my face. I find my way to the bathroom. Now I can barely breathe. I can’t speak.
The thoughts are forming in my head, ‘What have you done? What have you done?’
‘She did it to herself,’ I thought, at first, ‘She had it coming.’
I rinsed off my face and arms, careful not to leave a drop of blood anywhere. Do I wipe my fingerprints off of the countertops? I’m her best friend, technically my prints should be here. I left them there. They’ll find Matt’s. He shouldn’t be here.
‘He’s the boyfriend,’ I thought to myself, ‘he has motive. Or Joe, the husband with motive. Nobody will suspect the friend.’
I woke up in a sweat, tears streaming down my face. James reached across the bed and pulled me closer. I can’t tell the difference between my dreams and reality. I don’t know if I killed her or not. I just don’t know.
I didn’t sleep at all the rest of the night. I tossed and turned. Got up for a glass of water, and then got up to go pee. I’m afraid to dream.
The alarm went off at 8am but I’d been out of bed since 6. I’d already had time to run to the grocery store and make breakfast for James. He walked sleepily into the kitchen and kissed my forehead. I handed him a plate and turned to pour a glass of orange juice.
“Someone couldn’t sleep last night,” he raised his eyebrow as he bit into a piece of toast.
I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the hallway mirror and gasped. My eyes were rimmed with dark, almost purple circles. I looked down at the table.
“I keep having nightmares,” I shrugged.
James reached across the table and grabbed my free hand.
“Hey…” he whispered, “After today this will all be over.”
I forced a smile because I wanted to believe him. But I knew it wouldn’t be over any time soon – not until we find out who killed Stacy. And now I’m not entirely sure I should even be looking.
I got into the shower and cleaned up as best as I could. The bags under my eyes peeked out behind layers and layers of concealer. My mascara slightly drew attention away from my bloodshot eyes. I threw on a pair of skinny jeans and a t-shirt and waited for James to get out of the shower.
“I’ll need something to wear to the funeral…” I murmured.
“Oh – right,” James towel dried his hair and pulled a pair of jeans on, “I kind of had a job to get to today… Do you want to take my car? Or I can reschedule.”
“You’re not coming to the funeral?”
“I didn’t know her… I thought it might be – I dunno, weird?”
I shrugged my shoulders and sighed, “Whatever.”
James crawled across the bed and kissed my face, “I just want this to be normal for you,” he sighed, “If Matt is there, it’s probably best if I don’t show up. Plus you’re still married. People talk.”
I could feel my face turning red. He tossed me his keys and went back to getting ready. The funeral was in just a few hours and I still had to buy a dress and take James to a job across town. At least I’ll be busy.
I dropped James off in front of a big white house on what was probably 2 or 3 acres of land. He kissed me bye, grabbed his toolbox and walked towards the house. An old woman greeted him. I turned around and headed toward the closest shopping strip – Westlake Town Center. It had several boutiques in a row, a GAP and a Banana Republic. The other stores were furniture and sporting goods stores. I set out on a mission to find a black dress within the hour.
I tried on several, each looking similar to the one before. I didn’t have a hard time choosing – it’ll be the dress I wore to my best friend’s funeral, I’ll probably never wear it again. I grabbed a pair of modest black heels, as I hadn’t seen any of my clothes or belongings in what seemed like weeks. I took my dress and shoes up to the counter and paid.
I got back in the car and headed to a McDonald’s for lunch. My stomach was growling and I knew I wouldn’t have time to eat before the funeral. I ordered a Happy Meal and ate in the car, facing the play area. As I watched all of the small children climb in and out of tunnels and sliding down the slides, my heart hurt. I now knew that I’d probably never have children of my own. Can’t plan kids when I don’t even know what tomorrow will look like.
‘Not going to cry, not going to cry,’ I muttered to myself.
I looked up and noticed a familiar car parked across the street. Matt’s car, parked at a 7/11, facing me. His windows were slightly tinted, but I was able to make out a figure in his car. Had he been following me?
The figure looked up and I immediately recognized Camille. We made eye contact and she smiled at me.
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