It’s a curse really. Everyone always thinks I wish I knew when people were lying to me.
But I can tell you right now: you don’t.
I’ve had it as long as I can remember. Someone would tell me something, I love your hair like that, that’s a nice top, I really like you. But inside my head I would hear the truth. It would look better down, your top is ugly, you’re a know-it-all.
“Elise, did you finish that paper?” Justin came up behind me in the hall. His dark hair hung over his piercing green eyes so for a moment, it looked like he was talking to his feet.
“Yeah, I did, do you wanna take a look at it?” I handed him my copy and he took it, smiling gratefully.
“Thanks, I couldn’t think of how to word my thesis. And I haven’t been sleeping well, lately…” Justin’s voice dropped off as we walked towards the classroom.
“It’s no problem, are you staying for the newspaper meeting?” He thought for a moment, looking longingly outside. Then he relented and followed me into the room. Sarah stood at the front of the long table where two people were already seated. Justin and I rounded out the Newspaper team to a hearty five.
“There you are!” Sarah screeched, “You’re late!” Her dark eyes were full of anger.
“Sorry, I had to stay late—” I started but was immediately cut off.
“I’m not interested! Just sit down. And Justin, thanks for finally showing up to a meeting.”
I wish you’d just quit the paper.
“No problem Sarah,” he grinned back
I wish I’d just quit this stupid paper.
“Okay, here’s the plan for this month’s issue. Justin, I need you to cover the football game against Silver; Clara, get pictures of all the graduating seniors; Sam, get the final superlative votes and put them under each senior’s picture, and Elise, write that story on Daria Green.”
“Shouldn’t we wait until there’s more information—” Sam began but he was also interrupted.
“No! We write it now before everyone knows about it.” Sarah said finishing the conversation. “Elise go to the police station, talk to the detectives, see what they’re working on.”
“Should I go now?” I asked her, starting to pack up my stuff. Sarah scoffed,
“No, you should go next month.”
Of course, you should go now.
“Okay,” I said, slightly embarrassed.
“I can pick you up there in an hour if you want, and give you a ride home?” Justin offered, so kindly that I couldn’t keep the smile off my face.
“Thanks, that would be great. See you in an hour,” The door slammed shut behind me, but Sarah’s scolding voice followed me out of the building.
* * *
“How can I help you?”
Please leave me alone.
The detective sighed, barely glancing up at me as I walked into his office. He had a pinup board full of pictures of Daria and other missing girls. She smiled down at me from her spot on the corkboard: her blonde curls falling like a halo around her face.
“Hi, I’m Elise Scanlon, from the local high school. I work for the school paper and I’m doing a story on Daria. You know, she’s supposed to graduate this year,” I added, hoping it would soften him up.
“Have a seat,” he leaned back in his chair observing me as I sat down and pulled out my phone to record the conversation. He let out a small laugh,
“Covering all your bases? Smart. What do you want to know?” Detective Hannon, according to his sign, folded his hands in front of his stomach and waited for my line of questions. He was pretty young for being the lead detective, and he had a stern face but kind blue eyes.
“How do you feel about the case so far?” I started,
“It’s difficult, but we have a great team on it.”
It would be better if there was a single competent officer in this department.
My hand shook as I wrote down his thoughts.
“What can you tell me about Daria’s disappearance? Do you have any witnesses or evidence? Anything you share with the public might help people remember,” he smiled kindly though I could tell it took a great deal of effort.
“Daria disappeared outside the café she worked at. She locked up at around 10 pm and her keys were found in the parking lot outside her car. We don’t have any witnesses, but there have been some people who came forward with what they believed was valuable information.”
If you count seeing an old green car driving down the street as valuable information.
My heart paused for a moment at this lie. An old green car?
“Sorry, what was the date of her disappearance?”
“It was the night of the seventeenth. I assume you want to know if we have any suspects?”
“Yeah, anything? A name, a number?” I asked hopefully,
“We’re not ruling anyone out at the moment. We are investigating every lead we come across. Oh! Excuse me,” his phone rang, and he answered. Then after only a few seconds, he hung up.
“If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to deal with something. I hope your article goes okay,” he stood up and I mirrored him. He stepped out of the office behind me and turned off the lights before closing the door.
“Before I go, could you point me in the direction of the restroom?” I asked innocently and he pointed down the hall,
“Of course, down the hall and to the right.”
“Ok, thank you, Detective Hannon.” He nodded and set off towards an interrogation rooms while I stopped in the restroom. I ran my hands underneath the hot water, but the hotter the water the colder my hands get. There’s a perpetual coat of chills over my body, something Detective Hannon said.
When I poked my head back out into the bullpen, Detective Hannon was gone, and the officers seemed distracted. So, I quietly slipped back into his office. Using my phone as a light, I stepped over to his desk where a stack of papers in a file labeled Green, Daria was the first I’m looking through. After flipping through the first few pages, I stopped at the sheet I was looking for: the list of interrogations. My eyes skimmed over the page where over two-thirds of the names had been crossed off, but one hasn’t been: Justin Cramer.
* * *
“Hey, how did it go?” Justin asked, slipping his phone into his pocket as I meet him by the front door.
“It was fine,” I paused for a moment before continuing, “Why didn’t you mention you’d been interrogated about Daria?” I asked, and Justin’s face seemed to pale.
“I wasn’t interrogated,”
I was interrogated
“Your name was on the list…”
“Yeah, well, I’ve been to Daria’s café a bunch, so they just asked me about other customers.”
They asked me where I was the 17th
He opened the door and we walked downstairs together.
“Why didn’t you mention it—”
“Because it didn’t seem important!”
“Well, you could’ve told me before I came all the way down here,”
“Look, it’s not like Sarah is expecting you to walk out of here with the name of the killer!” I stopped on the landing and James turned around.
“Killer?” I repeated, his cheeks flushed a bit.
“She’s been missing for two weeks…I think we can assume…I misspoke. Obviously, I don’t think she’s dead.”
She's not missing
He turned back to the door again and stepped out into the clean air. And I followed, slowly, behind. Justin got to his car: his old…green car. I froze on the sidewalk, unable to take another step.
“What now?” He demanded but softened after seeing the fear on my face. “Hey, what’s wrong?” he moved away from his car and walked closer to me, putting a hand on my shoulder.
“Witnesses…witnesses saw an old green car,” I managed to whisper, finding it impossible to look into his striking green eyes.
“What?” he was almost laughing, but something stirred behind in his face. My heart was hammering against my chest, pleading for me to run, scream, do anything.
“Justin—” he put his hands against my cheeks, holding my head still so I was forced to meet his gaze.
“Elise, I did not kill Daria Green,”
Elise, I killed Daria Green