When I woke up that cold winters morning, I could never have foreseen the dark events that were to take place that day. If someone had told me then what I know now, I would have never believed them.
After all, we had all been such close friends ever since high school days. What could go so wrong that would cause each of us to not want anything to do with one another ever again? I mean, who could possibly predict that one of their best friends would be murdered?
Melanie and I had been seeing each other for two years and we had known each other for almost ten. There was a time when we were almost inseparable. There wasn’t anything or anyone who could keep us from being with one another. Of course we would always make time to catch up with our best friends Chloe and Freddie, so that we could hang out just like the good old days.
However, over time Melanie grew somewhat distant. She assured me that she was fine but I sensed that something about her had changed. She acted out of character and always seemed to be in a rush to go somewhere. It was as though she was going out of her way to avoid me. I gave her space and hoped that she would eventually overcome whatever phase she was going through and life would return back to normal once again.
I spent many days alone at home after work, but occasionally friends would kindly drop by for a visit. Freddie was great. He always knew how to cheer me up and Chloe promised she would try to figure out what was going on with Melanie.
One frosty morning in July, I had returned home from work in the late afternoon to find Chloe waiting for me on my veranda by the front door. She appeared to be admiring the view of the hills in the distance as she had her back to me. I dropped my bag and ran to her, my heart racing.
‘What did you find out?’ I asked eagerly.
The moment she turned to face me I noticed there was something different about Chloe. Her facial complexion was even paler than usual and my eyes were immediately drawn to her bloodshot eyes, as though she hadn’t slept in a week.
‘Melanie’s perfectly fine, if that’s what you mean. I’m sorry I didn’t come here sooner, it’s just that…’
She paused for what felt like an entire minute before continuing.
‘I’m not sure how to tell you this.’ Her eyes glanced up from the floor to meet my gaze and then wandered once again down to the ground.
‘Melanie and I were out shopping today and she confessed her love for Freddie. Apparently they have been together for the last few months.’
‘Freddie!?’ I spat. Speaking the name suddenly tasted off in my mouth.
‘No, we’ve been best mates ever since preschool and he would never do that to me…he couldn’t have. Could he?’
I just stood there for a few moments in a daze, taking in this news while consciously having to remind myself to breathe.
So Freddie stole her away from me and she loved him for it. All the while Freddie has been acting no different to usual so that I would never suspect him.
‘So he’s been lying to me all along, distracting me from the truth!’
My heart rate refused to slow down, instead speeding up with fury. With nothing but hatred fuelling my motor skills, I stormed to my car ignoring Chloe’s plea to stop and sped in the direction of Freddie’s house desiring nothing but terminal retaliation.
Melanie had always been my best friend. She was the closest thing I ever had to having a real sister. At school I had been the new, chubby girl who most people ignored and she had been the rich, pretty, popular girl who everyone wanted to be around. Melanie always made me feel a part of her group. She would go out of her way to invite me to parties and buy me expensive clothes, refusing my efforts to provide repayment.
Towards the end of school, she started dating the most gorgeous boy in our group, Johnny, and they never left each others sight. Our time together after that was minimal and the few times we did catch up as a group, I may as well not have been there as they showed no effort in contributing to our conversations. I would have to directly address either one of them for my existence to obtain any acknowledgement from them whatsoever.
I became more solitary, but missed being around my friends. I resorted to surprise visits and I made excuses to see how they were. Melanie would be especially irritated by these unexpected appearances and bluntly ask me to leave.
Johnny however always made me feel welcome and appreciated. There were times when he would look terribly ill and so I would take the day off to look after him. One day he revealed to me that Melanie had been acting odd and he was worried that something was wrong. It took me by surprise that this could be the reason for him having been so low.
Freddie often stopped by as well to support him through this difficult time. I gave Johnny my word that I would figure out what was going on. It made me feel so important to have some sort of purpose in his world.
On my next impromptu visit to Melanie’s house I used the excuse of an overdue girls day out shopping, something I knew she couldn’t refuse, and hoped that I could somehow resolve the problem. She seemed overjoyed and it was almost impossible for me to take in; after seeing how sad Johnny was in stark contrast to her glistening smile of utter glee.
‘Are you all right Melanie?’ I questioned in a laid-back way, sensing she was hiding something.
‘I’m fantastic!’ She sang high spiritedly.
‘Happier than I have ever been in my entire life! Freddie is in love with me, Chloe. I think I’m in love with him too… I think I’m in love with Freddie!’
She announced this so casually that I almost didn’t register the words she had spoken so freely.
‘Since when were you with Freddie?’ I blurted out without thinking.
‘Well, for your information, we’ve been going out for months,’ she said defensively, obviously taken aback by my less than tactful outburst.
‘What about Johnny? He thinks you’re still with him,’ I added thinking that she mustn’t have made it clear that they were breaking up.
‘Freddie assured me that he explained everything to him really nicely and apparently he took it really well.’
That’s when it dawned on me. Freddie had known all along how Johnny felt and yet he had chosen to keep him in the dark and lie straight to his face. Johnny was the nicest guy I had ever met and I was not about to just let Freddie get away with making Johnny feel completely lost and worthless.
I slammed the door after escaping the rainstorm and instinctively turned on my heater. Just as I sat down in my favourite armchair there is a knock at the door. I hadn’t been expecting anyone and so I opened the door anxiously.
The moment the door had opened, I heard a deafening sound and felt my knees give way as I dropped to the ground in excruciating pain, with rain pounding loudly around me. I look down at my blood soaked shirt and realise that I have been shot. I see two terrifying bloodshot eyes glaring down at me as I feel the dark curtains of time reeling me away.
*Lord Mayor’s Creative Writing Award: Highly Commended Young Writer.