Eighteen year old Tamara Grey watched from her window as the neighbors moved in. A family. Their surname was Madden. Old man Raison's house had sold at last. Most of the people currently living in Lakeshore were born there. Tamara's parents grew up across the road from each other. New residents were bound to cause a commotion. The locals would welcome them warmly, so long as they minded their own business.
This town, like many others, had a history. The kind of history that had its own share of lies and secrets. But far as anyone knew, there was nothing so bad that could have happened throughout Lakeshore's a hundred and twenty years existence. Just random 'incidents' which could have occurred anywhere.
For example; Tamara used to have an older brother named Jeremy. He died almost a year ago. A prank gone wrong, they said. She suspected some kind of foul play, but being able to prove it would be damn near impossible.
Looking at the Madden siblings goofing around in the back garden, she felt the sharp pain of her loss once more. Tears threatened, but she blinked them away as she heard movement on the stairs. Gypsy was a gift from her brother. If anything could put a smile back on her face, it was this dog. "Hey, partner in crime. Should we go for a walk now?" Gypsy wagged her tail like crazy when she heard the word 'walk.'
She ran down the steps, impatiently waiting at the door. Tamara took her lead off the hook. They wandered the streets about three times a week. It was a routine both she and her dog enjoyed. They stopped at Chambers Park to rest. Another five minutes and Tamara would then head home.
Gypsy's attention was suddenly caught by whoever had chosen to sit down beside her on the bench. "Hi neighbor, I'm Billy. The little girl using the swing is my sister Rosalie. We saw you come out of the house next door." Tamara glanced at him. He was about her age, with brown hair and blue eyes. He smiled when he saw she was staring. She blushed.
His gaze drifted back to Rosalie. Still a little flustered, she was also curious. Her voice was steady as she asked "What brings you to Lakeshore?" "Dad got the Sheriff's job, so we moved. I've already graduated but my sister had to enroll in a new school. She took it well. For a seven year old, she can be quite mature. My stepmother Susan has an online products business, so moving wasn't that big of a deal for her either."
They talked of other things. The conversation flowed more easily that she expected. However she couldn't help feeling that this meeting was not by chance. When Billy asked about Jeremy, she tensed up. How the hell did he know? Tamara held her breath as he continued. "We're Jocelyn Steel's cousins."
"Leah and Malcom's daughter? I heard she disappeared." "After what happened with your brother, she stayed with us for a short while. I could tell something was wrong, but it wasn't until she began to show a slight baby bump that she finally told me. For all the good it will do, it's time you knew the truth."
It was bad, she could sense it, but it was still a shock to hear Billy's next words. "Jeremy didn't fall, he was pushed. Jocelyn was scared into silence by her then boyfriend Josh Spencer. He'd discovered that her and Jeremy had been fooling around behind his back. He only meant to scare your brother at first, but he was really angry."
Tamara made an educated guess. "It was deliberate. My brother got killed and everyone covered it up because Josh's father was the mayor of Lakeshore." "Pretty much." "Jocelyn was carrying Jeremy's child?" "Yes. She wouldn't get rid of it. Sadly about four months in, she had a miscarriage. It really broke her down." "That's terrible."
"I know. She made me promise to tell you and your family what really happened to Jeremy. I would have done so anyway." "I've often had the feeling that things didn't add up that night. Thanks for letting me know." "You're welcome. It's a shame we can't do more." "That gives me an idea..."
Saturday morning, the new friends drove up to the Spencer home. Two cars were out front, but only Gary answered the door. Tamara tried to keep her cool. "Is Jeremy here?" "No, I'm afraid he left some time ago." "Alright then, I guess I can talk with you." "Please come in." She was grateful for Billy's presence as he followed her towards the lounge.
"You look a lot like Jeremy. I hadn't realized quite how much." People often commented that they could pass for twins. They shared the same golden blonde hair, fair skin and brown eyes. They certainly had been closer than most siblings of different ages.
"Why isn't your son still living here?" "We were on the verge of kicking him out. Josh has developed a drinking problem. It has gotten out of hand. He finally agreed to rehab." "Does he actually feel guilty about Jeremy?" "He has an awful temper." "So I've heard."
"Finding out his girlfriend was sleeping with someone else couldn't have helped. Alicia and I suspect it was mainly your brother's death that made him hit the booze. It changed him forever. But surely you must know that even without Josh's confession, you can't prove anything." Tamara glared at Mr Spencer. Billy took hold of her hand. Her eyes softened slightly as she thought about it all.
"I know the truth. Maybe that is enough for now. Your son committed a horrible act and he suffers for it. I have no sympathy for him, but I think I can understand how you feel. He is family and in Lakeshore, nothing is more important. Fair warning, if he were right in front of me, I would be sorely tempted to punch him. Hard."
Mr Spencer managed a weak smile. " I don't blame you for wanting to do that. I am truly sorry for the pain this tragedy has caused your family." "You mean what you say, I can tell. Thank you."
FIVE MONTHS LATER...
On the anniversary of Jeremy's death, the Greys ate a large breakfast together. It was made with some of his favorite foods. Then it was off to the Lakeshore Cemetery. A small crowd of friends and family members had gathered to be with them. Billy was there too. He and Tamara were dating. She stood by his side, as people laid flowers by Jeremy's tombstone. He never once let go of her. Although their relationship was in the early stages, both were sure that it had the potential to become more permanent.
Her father spoke a few carefully chosen words. "Today we honor the life of my son, taken from us far too soon. We hope he is in a better place, waiting for us to join him. We love you my boy and will miss you always." Tamara was left on her own for a little while. She put her hand on the cold stone and prayed silently. The clouds darkened. Rain fell heavily. She walked at a slow pace and was totally drenched when she got back to the family car.
Tamara knew that the first year would always be the hardest one. According to many, time was meant to heal all wounds. She would of course have to wait and see this for herself. Until then, the world will go on as it must, adapting and changing in the most unpredictable of ways.