You look up from the Styrofoam cup of coffee with no sugar and no milk and lean forward in your seat, “I’m sorry, can you repeat the question?” The cop, who isn’t being sympathetic with you blows air from his nose like a bull and places his fingers against his temple.
There’s a manila folder sitting between the two of you with a picture of your car sticking out the top of it. “Did you and Emily Sanders argue before you left the party?” You shake your head. It’s the truth, everything you’ve said so far is the truth. It feels good. And the pain is gone.
After weeks of it built up in your head, the shadows following you and reminding you of the debt you owed, it’s gone. “Why don’t you tell me exactly what happened at the party and the hours leading up to it.” You gently set the cup aside and place your hands on the table,
“We met up at Ericka’s house, myself and Emily, to get ready and get a little buzz before we got there.” “Did you drink as well?” You shake your head. Your parents are strict about that kind of stuff and you’re not of age yet. You already had a headache before the party, drinking would have just added to that.
You were worried it would impair your judgement on the decision you had to make by the end of the night. “Tell me what happened once you arrived at the party.” It was crowded, people packed in so tight it was impossible for you not to get groped or grabbed. You stood with your friends, drink in hand but not a sip touched your lips.
It was just a mask to fit in with the masses. You thought about how many different masks you wore in a given day. The mask started to slip. It had to happen soon; no, it had to happen tonight. “Uh we just found some other friends and hung out in the living room, talking and dancing. Nothing really out of the ordinary happened.”
While your friends were gossiping and drinking you scanned the room for who you were going to pick. It couldn’t be someone that you had any past issues with which meant no ex-boyfriends. Your eyes passed over him quickly. You didn’t make direct eye contact for fear of remembering your last encounter together.
“I know I said I loved you but I just can’t do this. You deserve someone better. We can still be friends though.” You shook your head of thoughts concerning him and told yourself to concentrate. You spot a girl, slumped over in a chair, her hair covered her face. You could convince someone drunk to come upstairs with you and out to the balcony.
Before you made your move someone walked up to the girl, helped her stand up and took her out front yard to probably puke in the hydrangeas that lined the walk up to the house. You weren’t sure what the specifications were. Did you have to witness it or did it have to happen with your own two hands?
“How long were you at the party?” “Not that long, we left before 12.” The cop arches his brow and shakes his head, “Isn’t that really early, I mean back in my day we didn’t leave until the cops kicked us out.” He laughs with a hint of his own rebellious youth in his eye.
“Well Emily wasn’t feeling good so I told her I would take her home.” Poor Emily, it wasn’t a decision you wanted to make but the opportunity presented itself and the chanting got to be too loud. It blocked out the part of you telling you to not do it. You stood at the top of the steps and waited for someone to walk past so you could trip them or give them a little push towards the stairs.
You were desperate at this point. Emily came stumbling up to you, her make up in different places that she originally applied it. “Did you see Ericka making out with Dylan? Ugh! She’s such a bitch! Whatever they deserve each other.” Emily had been crying but you were too focused on the clock behind her.
You had less than twenty minutes. You swallowed every ounce of doubt and it burned all the way down. “Do you want to get out of here?” Emily looked around and nodded, “Yeah, fuck this party.”
“What happened once you and Emily got in the car?” You helped Emily down to the car which took a few minutes because she kept stumbling and turning around to yell at Ericka who was nowhere in sight. Emily got in the passenger side and rolled her window down, “Drive slow so I don’t puke in your car.”
You put your seat belt on and looked down at hers. You told everyone who got in your car to buckle up but not this time. This time you turned your car on and drove away from the party with Emily still bitching about Ericka.
“She’s not even his type! He told me he would never date a girl who smoked but I guess he forgot because she squeezed the thought out of his head with her fake tits!Ugh, thank you for getting me out of there before I did something stupid.” “No problem.” The words tasted bitter on your tongue and you almost made the left instead of going straight.
“Why are you going on the back roads?” Emily asked sober enough to realize it was the longer way to get to her house. You drummed your fingers against the steering wheel and tried to come up with a believable excuse, “Oh there’s construction on Hamilton Drive and the detour would take us in the opposite direction of your house."
Emily was pleased with your explanation. She had no reason to doubt that what you said was true. You glanced at the clock, 7 minutes till midnight. You checked to make sure your seat belt was secure. Emily had her arm out the window. She moved it slowly in a wave against the wind with a smile on her face.
You looked away and cleared your throat, “Emily, I want to tell you something and it’s going to sound crazy but it’s a hundred percent true.” The cop clears his throat and glances over at you, "Miss?"
"Sorry um we got in the car, Emily seemed pretty out of it she was worried about being sick in my car so she had the window open and we were talking when all of a sudden she just grabbed the wheel and yanked it to the right. I tried to get us back on the road but we slid off the road and slammed right into a tree. I didn’t know she didn’t have her seat belt on, I should have checked. ” You choke back tears.
Emily looked over at you and leaned in closer, “Okay, whatever it is you can tell me.” You took a deep breath and looked at the clock, “In about 3 minutes I have to make a decision and unfortunately for you it’s not a good one but I have no choice Emily...
I have to do this or they’ll come for me, they’ll come for me and everything I did will be for nothing. Do you understand?” You pushed down a little on the gas and Emily noticed, “No I don’t understand, are you on something? Who’s coming for you!?” “I just wanted more time for her, she didn’t deserve to die! “
The last thing you saw before the car slammed into the tree was Emily’s face. Her eyes glanced over at you, she opened the mouth to yell something but all you heard was, “Do I?”
The cop slides over a box of tissues and gives you a sympathetic look. “It sounds like you were just trying to help out your friend.”
The car stopped, everything around you stopped. You picked your head up and saw that the seat next to you was empty. You opened the door, walked around to the front of the car and stared down at Emily’s bloodied and broken body lying there. “You did it, the debt is paid.” You licked your lips and tasted blood.
You heard the words spoken to you that day, "It's blood for blood and a life for a life."