I breathe in deeply, trying to remember the lessons about lying that my mother taught me years ago. I open my eyes, staring into the cop’s eyes.
He leans to the other person, whispering. I still hear it, “She fits the description, black hair, and blue eyes.”
“Katrina Hemlin?” he asks, directed to me this time.
I nod and the police continues, “You were friends with Calista Normf?” The name unleashes a flood of emotions, and I try to keep it in. Tears sting my eyes, I don’t bother to keep them hidden. Maybe the cops will let me go, most of them do hate emotional people...
“Tell me what happened at the mall first,” a female officer pushes the other one aside, and sits down on the table. So she’s the bad cop, I think.
“It was a normal Saturday,” I say, keeping my voice steady, “We would all go out together every weekend. And-”
The officer interrupts me, “All? Who else was there with you?”
“One other person, Kiet. Kiet Thani.” The cops scribbled something on their notepad. I glance at my watch. 9:09, I’ll be late for my English class.
The police follow my gaze, “We talked to your teachers, it’s fine if you miss a class or two. And tell us more.”
“Nothing really happened. We had lunch together, but it ended abruptly. Someone texted Calista, and she left apologizing to us,” I shrug. I followed her outside, and she called a taxi instead of taking her own car. And she hates taxis.
I don’t tell the police this, and they get up, “Thank you. And your friend, Kiet. Did he leave after?”
“No, we stayed behind after she left. Calista said she was feeling sick, so we didn’t walk her out,” I give them snippets of the truth, knowing it’s easier to lie that way. The officers whisper amongst themselves for a bit.
They nod and walk out the door, leaving me alone in the principal’s office. 9:15. I pick up my backpack and rush to English, plopping into the seat beside Kiet.
“What happened?” He whispers, pulling his chair closer to mine. I take out an index card, scribbling that the officer’s questioned me.
It comes back into my lap in less than a second. What did you tell them?, is scrawled out in Kiet’s handwriting.
I told them Calista felt sick, and she left abruptly. I told them your name, too.
He pauses, waiting before passing it back to me.
Well, at least you kept her promise.
I fold up the note and tuck it into my pocket. At least…
Don’t tell the police about this! Promise me, her desperate voice echoes in my head. I told her to stop, I asked her why the police were going to be involved. She left instead of answering.
If I hadn’t told her to check the time, Calista wouldn’t have seen the text. She wouldn’t have left. And I wouldn't have to do it early.
Kiet notices, “Look, it’s not your fault the police are investigating. But I could’ve done a better job… Uh, I mean you did a great one too.”
I shake my head, and focus on our teacher. Mother told me I should drop out, telling me that 10th grade drama was too much to handle with my other duties.
I refused to listen, and look where it’s got me.
* * *
“Katrina! Where have you been? You’ve got mail,” Mother flicks an envelope at me, “You just have to injure this one, it’ll be easy. Your age too!”
I grunt, “I don’t feel like it today.”
Mother rolls her eyes, “Are you still grumpy about your friend? I told you, don’t make friends! Kiet is okay, he’s inside the-”
I stop her, “I’m going to the library.” Snatching the letter from her hands, I take my bike and pedal towards the park instead.
Thankfully, it’s empty. Walking into the gazebo, and I open the envelope, knowing that Mother will annoy me forever about this.
I take out the photo, ignoring the rest. It’s a boy about my age, like Mother said. Tousled blond hair and a smirk plastered on his face. This one looks harder to injure, at least harder to get to. I have to stage it as an accident, instead of using stealth.
Groaning, I find his school. Same as mine. That means, I could join one of his classes, and quit the next day.
“Kat!” I turn around as Kiet’s voice. Smiling, I stand up, walking to him.
“What are you doing here?” I frown at the book in his hand.
“I might ask you the same thing. Your mom said that you were at the library, not the park.” He raises his eyebrows.
“I-I just didn’t feel like biking there…” I say, trying not to stutter, but failing.
“Uh-huh,” Kiet smirks, tilting his head, “And the library’s closer to your house than the park.”
I act as if I’m getting my bike, but actually trying to hide my blush. “Well, I’m going there now, are you coming or not?” I ask, hoping I look like I don’t care if he comes or not.
“Sure, I’ll come, but what’s this?” He takes out the envelope from his pocket. I pat my pocket, wondering how he got it.
“Nothing!” I narrow my eyes as he opens it a bit.
“Another assignment? You just did one a few weeks ago! Not fair, at least let me handle this one with you,” Kiet scowls.
“It’s just an injury, I can handle it myself, thank you very much,” I snatch it out of his hands.
Kiet trips me, and I catch myself in time. I raise my eyebrows, “That’s the best you can do?”
He swings at me again, aiming for the legs, and I do a backflip, smirking. He does a roundhouse kick, trying to show off, and I roll my eyes from a few feet away.
“Aha! I know this guy? Does he have a name?” Kiet holds up the picture, leaving me flabbergasted.
I close my mouth, acting normal, “The less I know about the person, the better.”
“Well, that backfired badly,” He read the rest of the information out loud, “Adrian Mellow, 10th grader attending Farrah High.”
“Adrian, nice name,” I say. Kiet's rule is the worst. Why do you have to know things about the person, and maybe develop sympathy for them?
“Tell him that, not me. Are you free at six?” Kiet takes out his phone, texting somebody. His mother, maybe?
“Sure, why?” I don’t think I have anything to do…
“Good. Meet me at Starbucks. Remember, six!” Kiet bikes off, leaving me confused. I thought he hated coffee.
* * *
Quickly dabbing a bit of eyeshadow on, and I change to jeans instead of capris. Locking the door, I rush to the Starbucks next to my house.
I see Kiet’s face and smile, trying to calm my hair down. He smiles back, and signals for me to look at the person next to him.
I walk a little closer, and see him. Adrian. He glances at me, and Kiet whispers something to him. Realization dawned on him, and his lips quirk up, waving to me.
Adrian? Kiet was texting him? But I don’t want to do this right now!
Breathing in deeply, I think about how to injure him if he’s sitting right there. I don’t know, ugh.
Sitting across from Kiet, I wave shyly “Hi. I’m Kat! Or Katrina, and no, I’m not Spanish. I know my name can sound like that but anyway…” I trail off, knowing that I’m talking too much.
“I’m Adrian, from Scotland,” He chuckles, and I blush, coughing. Kiet spares me from the awkwardness.
“So, who’s up for some donuts?” Kiet grins, stepping into the line, Adrian and I following him.
I move closer to Kiet, whispering, “You handle him. I don’t want to.” His smile grows bigger, which I didn’t even know was possible.
The person in front of us moves, and we step up. “What would you like today?” A barista smiles sweetly at us.
“Three frappuccinos and a dozen donuts, please,” I tell her, spelling out our names. I glance at Kiet again, hoping he’d make it quick, and small.
“So, I take it that Kiet and you were friends of Calista?” Trying not to flinch at the name, I nod. Kiet looks at Adrian with angry eyes, and he ignores them.
“Yeah, we were,” I say quietly.
“Poor thing. She went missing only an hour after you went to the mall with her, did you know that?” Adrian’s voice takes on a gentle tone.
“Yeah, we know. And anyway, how’s the homework? The honor roll classes’ suck,” Kiet jumps back in, saving me once more.
“Trying to say thank you telepathically,” I whisper into his ear.
“Homework’s fine. But, did you have anything to do with Calista?” Adrian switches back to the main topic once again.
“Please stop,” I move farther away from him.
“Why?” He asks, moving closer to me. Kiet sits there, frowning.
Because I’m the one who killed her.