"What do you remember of today?" The Chief of Police asks me, leaning forward in his folding chair, his ball point pen poised over a clipboard.
I shake my head, trying to think back. The morning felt like a life time ago, yet it could have been a couple of minutes. In reality, It's been close to twelve hours since I'd first came here. The sun has dipped below the belt of trees and the enclosed pond is enveloped in blackness. The only light comes from the swirling blue and red from the police cruisers' bulbs.
The summer green trees are bushy enough that they hide the pond completely from the road. Nick had found the place on accident one day when he took a wrong turn in his blue Chevy truck down a dirt road and it led him here. Other people have been here over the years, there was a rope swing set up that we hadn't put here and someone left a pair of black Ray Bans behind. The water has a greenish tinge to it but the bottom sand is clean and not murky.
"Anything, do you remember anything at all?" He asks again, he's getting impatient; he just wants to go home. He probably has a box of doughnuts waiting on his desk back at the office.
"I- I remember swimming. Nick and I, we were in the pond swimming and then… he brought a picnic, we didn't eat much of it, just the grapes and …uh… I don't know. I'm sorry, but I can't remember." I say.
"That's okay, Cornelia. You hit your head pretty hard. We just want to cover all the ground, but there's no worries if your memory doesn't come back, his death were probably just an accident, anyway." The Chief said in a tone that I assume is suppose to be reassuring.
"Probably?" I ask. Is there a chance it wasn't an accident, that Nick's death was murder? That's not possible.
"We can't assume the death wasn't murder before we rule it out, it's simply a precaution." He tells me.
"Oh," That makes sense.
I walk over to Nick's body. Mom told me not to look at it. She thinks it'd be better for my 'mental stability' if I remember him as he was, not like this. I'd feel guilty if I looked away, like I didn't accept the way he looked all the time, as if the only reason I ever went out with him was because he wasn't a corpse. Although this, I admit, is a huge contributing factor. Nick looked beautiful no matter what state he was physically in, and I know if it was me with a sheet over my head, Nick wouldn't have cared; he still would have wanted to see my face. I peel back the sheet and look at my boyfriend.
Nick's eyes are open. In the movies people always close their eyes as they pass. They slowly ease out of pain and their muscles go loose. Then, they breath out a last sigh and their lids drift close as if they're falling asleep. But Nick doesn't look like he's asleep. Nick looks like he's dead.
His face has lost all the color of being alive. His lips have paled to the same color as the rest of his face and they look as though they've been carved out of wax. His vivid blue eyes are glossed over, and dull. He looks like a body straight out of CSI with dried blood that had been dripping down from his nose and his temple, but mostly, he looks like Nick.
I wish I knew what had happened. I wish I could remember. I go over what I do remember in my mind.
The day had started the way all summer ones do, at noon. Nick had packed a picnic as a surprise and we planned out a day at this hidden pond. We had made it our haven, an isolated place away from the world that we could be ourselves in. We spend the afternoon playing in the pond, swimming, eating grapes and at one point, Marco Polo. I don't remember it ever going wrong, but I had woken up from, what I assumed to be a nap, to find Nick lying facedown in the shallow water at the edge of the pond.
According to the police, the only way to account for our identical head trauma was that we had run into each other, banged heads and knocked one another out cold. The only difference was, after our collision I had fallen backwards onto the sandy beach whereas Nick had landed on his face in inch deep water. In the approximated ten minutes I'd been knocked out, he had drowned.
I had called the police after failing to find a pulse, but I was already too late. By the time the EMTs got here there was nothing they could do. Nick had died.
"Chief! I've got something!" An officer calls, pausing in his hunt along the reeds where I had been found unconscious, twenty or so feet from the shore.
I trail behind the chief of police as he goes to investigate. The officer points at a fist sized rock and as he shines his flashlight over it, it glistens red.
"The victim's blood." Chief says. Nick's blood.
I stare at the rock and when I glance up, both Chief and Officer are staring at me.
"What?" I ask.
"What's the victim's blood doing on a rock, twenty feet from where he was bleeding?" Officer asks.
Excellent question. I shrug, how should I know? They seem to be looking at me for the answer, I'm not sure if I should say something or not, so I stick with my shrug and go back to examining the red rock.
Chief grabs my wrist and twists it upward, shining his flashlight on my hand. Its color matches the rock's. Blood is smeared into the creases of my palm and underneath my fingernails. Chief flickers the light to my left hand, it's clean, not a speck of blood anywhere on it. The two cops look at me, accusations in their stares.
As an answer to my questioning look, Officer says, "If you gave him CPR you'd have blood on both hands. The blood patters on your right hand match the shape of the rock."
"What was the bruise patter on the victim's face?" Chief asks.
Officer pulls a photograph from a file in his evidence bag and holds it up for both of us to see. Even I can tell the edges of the rock are identical to the marks on Nick's face. So Nick had been hit by a rock to the temple. I don't understand how. Had I thrown it to him? Maybe we were playing catch with it because we didn't have a ball, maybe he missed and it hit his face. However, I can't throw hard enough to leave such a brutal mark. If that's what killed Nick, where did I get my injuries? Since it mean they didn't come from us running into one another and bonking our heads together.
"What does it mean?" I ask the police.
They exchange a grim look. "You were the only one here at the time of death, and the only one here when he was murdered."
"Murdered? But I thought-" Bewildered, I glance from one cop to the other. So this rock is the…murder weapon? And it matches up to my hand and Nick's temple. The math isn't hard to add up. They think I hit Nick in the head with the rock, then, for good measure, knock myself out too.
"It would have been a forceful blunt hit, that doesn't happen on accident."
My voice lowers to a whisper, "I didn't murder my boyfriend." How can that be their conclusion? I didn't do it! At least I don't remember doing it… They have to believe me; then again, I'm not the most reliable source.
"You had motive, opportunity…" The officer says.
"Motive? What was my motive?" I ask.
The officer shrugs, "It could be anything. Maybe you were jealous of a girl he talked to at school or, he isn't spending enough time with you and too much on school or sports. I don't know how you teenage girls think, it could've been anything."
"But I wouldn't- I didn't-"
"How do you know you wouldn't or didn't?" The officer asks.
That stops me, because I don't. I have absolutely no idea whether or not I killed my boyfriend over some stupid melodrama. It's ludicrous though, they think I murdered Nick! Nick, the only person who knew the shit I deal with in school and the problems my family has. What if I had done it, what I killed him? That puts a knot in my stomach and I feel so guilty I want to throw up.
"I'm sorry, but until further knowledge, Cornelia Peters you're under arrest for the murder of Nicholas Wilson."
The officer clamps handcuffs on my wrists and pushes me toward the cruiser. My mom looks on perplexed, she starts to jog toward me, but another cop holds her back.
"You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you," The officer says in a loud clear voice, reeking with authority. I feel like a criminal, like I've done something wrong even though I'm certain I haven't. It's the feeling that comes with a teacher yelling at a five-year-old in elementary school.
"Cornelia!" My mom shouts. I'd like to look back at her, to give her a reassuring smile, to run and tell her everything, to run and cry in her hug, in her lap. I guess the maturity to hold back comes with growing up.
With a rough push from the officer I'm sitting in the backseat of the cruiser. The sirens flicker on and the car pulls out onto the dirt path leading to a main road. Sitting with my arms behind my back isn't the most comfortable position in the world, but I'm so exhausted from a long day with so much happening that I end up dozing against the handless door.
I woke up as we reach the station. They hold the trial as soon as we reach the station. All the evidence works against me. They put me in a holding cell for now. I'm a criminal. I have no hope of ever getting into Harvard. They think I killed Nick. I don't know if I did or didn't. The facts rumble through my mind, but I still can't believe it's truly happening. The idea of it is simply preposterous.
Did I do it? This is the most important question to me, because I don't know. I want to believe I didn't. I want to believe I'm innocent, but I don't know, and I don't have any way to find out. The guilt is driving me out of my mind. I don't know how to get rid of it either. It'd be great if I could apologize to Nick, if I could talk to him. He was the only one who could calm me down when I worked myself up like this.
I stand up off my jail bed and walk to the bars.
"Excuse me?" I say to the Chief of Police.
He's sitting at his desk reading the paper, a box of doughnuts open in front of him. He peers at me over the news section. A picture of Nick and my pond is on the cover. The headline reads 'Girl murders boyfriend at pond'. So there I have it. The world knows I'm a cold hearted killer. I'll be on death row if this keeps up. Who knows the many other people I might kill. Even I'll never know, because I won't remember killing them. I smile politely at Chief.
"Sorry to bother you, sir, but I was wondering if I could borrow a piece of paper and a pencil." I ask as nicely as I can manage.
Chief eyes me suspiciously, as though he can't figure out if I'm going to stab him if he gives them to me. After a moment's pause he gets up and hands me a paper and blue crayon.
I take them gratefully. "Thank you."
Mom is always telling me take out my anger or sadness in a letter. That way I don't hurt anyone or yell at anyone. It's safer for everyone. I put the blue tip to the paper and write what ever comes to my mind. It doesn't take long for me to ramble out my thoughts to Nick as if he's sitting in here with me. When I finish I look it over.
You were always the best of me. With everything going on I haven't had time to miss you, because I do, Nick, I miss you so much. I miss the way your floppy hair use to fall in your face and how you'd laugh at my jokes, even if they weren't funny at all. I miss how, when your hair was wet, you'd tuck it behind your ears and pretend to be a girl. You were always someone to talk to when so much was going on and I felt like I would burst. You always understood, Nick. For that I thank you, because no one else ever did. Even now, I'm in a jail cell because you aren't here to defend me. Although, I suppose, if you were here it wouldn't even be an issue. I love you, Nick. Please always remember that. And just in case I did actually kill you, I'm sorry, and I can't imagine why I would.
To my surprise a tear falls from eye and dampens the paper. I put my fingers to my face in shock. It's the first time I've cried since the day Nick died. He'd just told me the worse news and I got mad. Man, I got so mad, and I…
I remember. I remember everything. I smile. Of course, everything makes sense again. I'll go to jail, but I'm not in the wrong. Nick deserved what he got, he had it coming. I grin and a laugh bubbles past my lips.
Chief shoots me a wary look, thinking the crayon and paper may not have been the best idea. Oh well, too late now.
The guilt in my chest vanishes, I feel as light as air. Of course, of course, it's good this way, he's gone. He had it coming; he's the one in the wrong, not me. I'm not sorry at all, he deserves to be dead, that damn cheating scumbag liar.