I played with the piece of paper in my hands. I had finally graduated, I was done with high school and I would be leaving for college soon, although it wasn't soon enough. I played with the sleeve of Joshua's jacket as Ella walked over to me, her parents following closely behind her. "Excited?" she asked with a smile, I tried my best to smile back as I gave a brisk nod. Seeing all the happy faces made it harder for me to smile.
"We are proud of you kiddo." Mr. Parks patted my shoulder firmly, I smiled a little at him.
"Thanks." Her parents walked away with some other parents, Ella stared at me.The voices seemed to fade away as my world felt like it was crumbling.
"I know it's hard...Graduating without him..." She was staring at the ground with a sad look as she played with her gown. She was stronger than me, so it never really accrued to me how much she shared my pain of losing him.
"Yeah, but I guess we had to huh?" I gave a soft chuckle. She nodded, and her spirits rose.
"We're off to college now though! Freedom!" she squealed as she grabbed my hands and twirled me around in a big circle. I couldn't help but smile as shake my head at her. She would be attending the same college me and Joshua had decided to go to. My happiness soon faded as two cops in uniforms walked over to us, their faces told me something bad was about to happen. Ella looked at me, confused clouded her face but then she turned around and then it became clear to her. Nothing good ever came with comps coming up to you in my town.
"Hello Ella. Are your folks here?" Sheriff Winston asked, she nodded and walked a few feet away to her parents. They came back shortly. The Sheriff was a 60 something, tall man with dark hair and dark eyes to match. He had been Sheriff for as long as I could remember.
"Hey there Sheriff." I could tell Mr. Parks was trying his best to sound cheery. He took off his hat as the man behind him did the same, his eyes grew soft with pity as he looked at us.
"We know the accident Joshua had is recent, but we wanted to tell you this." I watched Mr. Parks grabbed his wife's hand and hold it tightly. Ella began squeezing my arm, I could barely feel anything as I awaited the news. "Mr. and Mrs. Parks, your son didn't take that curb sharp, the far failed him." Mr Parks narrowed his eyes in confusion.
Many possibilities came with that one sentence.
"What do you mean?" Mrs. Parks spoke, her voice was as shaky as my hands were. Sheriff Winston rubbed the back of his neck and sighed softly. I could tell the news was hard for him to deliver, but something about him made me feel he really didn't care.
"Your sons' breaks were cut. They failed him, he most likely went to slow down for the curb and couldn't. Someone cut his lines." He rubbed his forehead, removing a bit of sweat that had collected. We just stared at him. Now, we weren't' even sure what to say.
"So, someone killed him?" Ella was the first one to speak after a few minutes. Sheriff Winston nodded his head, the sobs that came from Mrs. Parks filled my ears and broke my heart.
"They were cut with scissors," he confirmed.
"Who would harm Joshua?" Mrs. Parks asked, tears were streaming down her face, messing up the beautiful make-up she had applied that morning. Mr. Parks wiped them away gentle, dappling the black make-up with the sleeve of his shirt and then turned to the Sheriff.
"Do you have any idea who did this?" I saw him swallow hard. He was trying his best to stay strong for us, but I could tell it was very hard.
"No sir, I don't, but we will try our best to figure this out." He shook his head is dismay. The man next to him handed us each a card with the Sheriff's number on it. "Call us if you have any information," he added in a soft voice, he then walked away with the man following him close behind. We just kind of looked at each other, not even sure what to say. Everyone was just in awe, trying to process what had just happened.
We were sitting at the table, Mrs. Parks set down a glass of water in front of me, and one in front of Ella. A glass of liquor sat n front of Mr. Parks. We hadn't said a worse since we have been told what happened, and that Joshua was most likely murdered. It was sort of an eerie silence, and I wasn't sure how to break it.
"I don't understand." I could tell that it was killing her. "Who would hurt Josh?" she added in a low tone.
"Did he have any fights with anyone at school?" Mrs. Parks voice was still a bit shaky. I knew she thought someone who had had fought with did it, but Joshua would never fight with anyone. Everyone I knew liked him, he was pretty much friends with anyone and everyone.
"We were always together at school, I never saw him fight with anyone." I tried to remember, but nothing came to me.
"Everyone loved Josh," Ella greed, I ran my fingers through my hair and stared down at the table. I just wanted all this to end, my heart couldn't take any more emotions.
"What do we do now?" Mr Parks drank down the whiskey in his glass and stood up. His eyes were dark and cold, but he had a warm smile on his face.
"We get you two ready for college, this can't stop you," he said, trying to be strong for all of us, but no matter how he tried, I could see the pure sadness in his eyes.
"But dad, someone killed Josh.We have to find out who did it," Ella argued. I sighed and laid my head on the table, the cold tile felt good against my hot face. Besides, how on Earth could we find out who did it?
"Honey, we will most likely never know," Mrs. Parks said as she hugged her daughter. MR.Parks came next to me and put his hand on my shoulder.
"I know it's hard, but Joshua would want you to move on," he said softly. I nodded and looked down at the water in the glass, moving on was the farthest thing from my mind.
I watched the back of the black Explorer drive away, a Michigan licence plate wrapping around the black numbers as Ella's parents waved goodbye to us. My ears filled with people's laughter as I turned around and looked at the school in front of us. The University of Michigan was a big school, and sort of intimidating, but I knew we'd have fun. I was really nervous, but it did feel great to get away from our small town and everything that has happened in the past few weeks. A warm breeze wrapped around me and I took a deep breath. Maybe things would change, they would just look up and get better.
"Well, I live over there," Ella said as she pointed to a big building of dorms across the campus. We had a few classes together, so we'd still be close, but our dorms were pretty far apart. "This will be good for us," she added happily. I smiled and nodded, she was right.
She said goodbye and that she'd call me later tonight, I grabbed my bag and slipped it onto my shoulder. I made my way to my dorm, it was hard, walking down the hallway knowing that Joshua will walk down it with me. The future we planned out, will never happen and our plans were crushed. I came to the dorm I would be staying in, Number 54. I was suppose to have a roommate, but I wasn't sure who he would be. When I pushed the door open, the room was spotless and one suitcase was laying on one of the beds so I made my way to the other. I set my bag down on my bed and began to unpack as I heard voices come toward the room.
"You must be my roommate," I heard a deep voice. I set my shirt down and turned around. A man stood before me. He was tall, at least 6'4 and I was at least 5'11. He had jet black hair, it was all trimmed up above his ears. He had bright hazel eyes and he smiled at me. I gave a soft smile back, he stuck out his hand I returned the sake. "Luke," he said with a chuckle.
"Charlie," I said with a soft smile. He nodded and I turned back to unpacking.
"I like your hair, it's a nice color," he commented. I had light blonde hair, it was weird because it was almost white but it had light blonde tints to it. I also had bright blue eyes.
"Thanks," I said softly. I put my clothes into the dresser near the end of my bed and closed it. I heard him move some stuff around behind me as I took out a picture frame. I held it tightly in my hands and exhaled a soft breath. It was the last picture me and Joshua had taken together, it was of us at the beach. He had his arms wrapped around my shoulder and he was kissing my cheek. I was smiling with my arm around his waist. I must have been staring at it too long, or must have been crying.
"Are you okay?" I heard Lucas ask, I turned around quickly and looked at them and then back down at the frame.
"Sorry, it's nothing," I said softly. He looked at me with his eyebrow raised but he didn't push.He walked over to me and looked down at the picture.
"Aw, that's cute. Is that your boyfriend?" he asked. I looked up at him, I was shocked he came out and just asked, but I guess he could tell how much I cared for this picture. I shook my head gently.
"No, he's not here anymore," I said softly as I ran my finger down the cold class. He took a step back, his face was as sorry as sorry could be. I could tell he thought he had crossed a line.
"Oh..." he said softly. "I'm sorry," he added quickly, his voice was apologetic, and I just smiled. I set the picture frame on my stand next to my bed.
"Don't worry about it," I said with a smile. He looked at me with his hands in his pockets, I could tell he felt bad for saying anything about it. "Forget it alright? It's fine," I said with a bigger smile. "It happened months ago," I added, the memories were still so fresh in my head, but I pushed them out. He rubbed the back of his neck, and my words reassured him, his body language relaxed.
"I understand how you feel, don't worry. When I was 10 my mother passed," he said softly. I looked at him, I knew at that moment we'd become good friends. Although, he didn't exactly understand how I feel, he couldn't.
"Well, then we both know the feels," I said with a soft chuckle.He smiled and walked over to his own bed and began to unpack.
It had been about a week since I got settled into college. My classes were fine, the teachers were fine and everything was going pretty well. Me and Ella got closer than ever, we would hang out almost every night at either her dorm or mine. Plus, her and Lucas sparked up a friendship and I was so happy for that. I didn't feel that well so tonight I wasn't really playing on going anywhere. I heard the knob turned and Lucas walked in with an envelope in his hand. "This is for you," he said as he tossed me the letter. I sat up and ripped it open. I looked at the front of the envelope, it was addressed to me but no return address was available. I opened the letter and read it to myself in my head;
"Hi Charlie. It's been a few months since Joshua's accident, I hope you are settling nice in your college life. being out of that small town must feel amazing yes? Nobody knows your business and you have your own freedom now, that must be great. I guess you cay say, I am here to ruin your happiness. Joshua wasn't the man you thought he was, he wasn't the man that most people thought he was. There is so much that you have no idea about. He was killed for a reason, Charlie, it's easier to keep a secret if you take it with you to the grave. I'll send you another letter in a few weeks. Have a good night, Charlie."
I stared at the printed paper.It was not hand written, so I was clueless on who had wrote it. "Are you okay?" I heard Lucas's voice. I blinked at him blankly, he was staring at me, giving me a weird look.
"Oh, I'm fine," I said with a soft smile. He looked at me, not really convinced. We had become close, we hung out a lot, joked around and we were developing a great friendship and I was very lucky to have him as a friend I just didn't trust him enough to tell him what had happened with the whole Joshua thing, let alone this letter.
"Are you sure?" he asked softly. "Do we need to have a rug talk?" he asked with a smile. I rolled my eyes and shook my head gentle. Whatever he had something on his chest that he wanted to talk about, he wanted to have a "rug talk". We would lay down on the rug in the middle of our dorm, stare up at the ceiling and have an honest talk. I enjoyed them and we had them often with anything we needed to get off our chest.
"I think I'm fine, it's nothing, honestly," I said with a smile as I folded up the letter and stuck it under my pillow. I knew he wasn't convinced but he didn't press. He just shrugged his shoulder and walked into the bathroom. The letter buzzed around in my head, I really didn't want to deal with this. It was hard losing Joshua, but now I was being harassed by the person who killed him? I thought I knew everything about Joshua, but this person told me I didn't.
"Are you sure?" he asked again, I was staring blankly at the wall. My lips were moving but no words were coming out, so instead I just looked at him and nodded gently.
"I'm fine Luke, I promise," I said with a smile, he returned it gently, but I knew he was not convinced once again. He turned on the TV and settled into his bed for the night, I looked down at my fingers. Why was this happened to me? What did it mean? What had Joshua gotten himself into?