I know it wasn’t just me. And I know it didn’t start just last night. Was it before then? I don’t remember. I was there, at the party, the new guy. He was talking to me. He looked about 22, maybe 24. I was 17. Did he take me upstairs? I don’t know, man. The light when I woke up, the light now. It’s too bright. Too. . . . white. Yeah. I think Cassy was there. Is Cassy here?
I called out to her but I didn't hear her. All I see is white. There, over there, these blurs. What are those? Just blurs, lying on the ground, like me. Am I a blur? Is that Cassy?
That’s not my voice. It sounds small, like a child’s. no , less than a child. A baby? What happened last night? Where’s Cassy?
Everyone’s still a blur. Why can’t I remember? I think we were drunk. The new guy got me drunk. Was Cassy drunk? Didn’t he have a knife? Where is she?
“Please, Cassy, answer me!”
I hate the blurs. Why are you moving me? Why are you giant? The new guy had a knife, right? Cassy was holding on to me. We were crying, I think. I’m still crying.
“Help me, Cassy!”
I can’t stop crying.
Like the sound of a baby crying.
Like the sound of me crying.
What happened last night?
But I’m alive now?
“Well Mr. and Mrs. Salvi, you have a beautiful baby girl!” the doctor announced as he brought the baby back into the hospital room.
“What are you thinking about naming her?” a nurse, the dark-haired one with the crooked teeth, asked as she held the birth certificate.
The father was crying. Not for the miracle of life, but the tragedy of death. The night before, his niece was murdered at a party with her best friend. He had found out the news not even an hour ago.
“We were going to name her Sienna but now I-”
“Her name’s going to be Cassy,” Mr. Salvi interrupted his wife. “Cassy.”
“Are you sure honey?” Mrs. Salvi knew that was a sensitive name for him.
“Why wouldn’t I be? I need to respect her somehow,” Mr. Salvi stormed out of the room, trying to find a place where he couldn’t hear the sound of crying.
“So the name's Cassy, then?” the nurse asked, growing a bit impatient.
“Well, I guess it would be respectful. That was the name of his niece, you see, and she and her friend were . . . . were murdered last night. At a party.”
Then she too burst into tears, the baby falling soundly asleep in her arms.
“Yes, sweetie, that’s a bug,” she told li’l Cassy as she pointed to something small.
“No, it’s not yellow, it’s orange.”
“That’s right,” Mrs. Salvi was sitting on a blanket in her backyard with Cassy, just enjoying the sun.
“Yeah, sweetie?” Poor Cassy looked worried for some reason.
“Did you know I had a friend?”
“Well you have a lot of friends, like Little Piggy on your bed upstairs or Charlotte down the street, or eve-”
“No, a tall friend,” Cassy climbed up onto her mother’s lap, trying to get her point across as seriously as a five-year-old could.
‘Oh?” Mrs. Salvi was genuinely curious at this point. Maybe even a little worried. "What’s his name?”
“No Mommy, her name,” Cassy said, getting frustrated that her mom didn’t know who she was talking about.
“Sorry, her name.”
Mrs. Salvi sat there, more than a bit confused. “Cassy’s your name, sweetie.”
“But Cassy was her name.” Cassy climbed out of her lap, getting distracted by something else with wings.
A bit disturbed, Cassy’s mother asked, “don’t you mean ‘is’, dear?”
“Cassy ‘is’ her name?”
“No, was.” Cassy started to get even more frustrated then. “Was her name, Mommy.”
“Because, Mommy, didn’t she leave?”
Why is she saying any of these things? “What do you mean?”
“Well, she was a tall person, but I think I was tall like her, Mommy. Maybe even as tall as you! And there was a knife. Not like the ones you let me use in the kitchen. But a really big one. And sharp, too.” she started to cry. “She didn’t have the knife, Mommy, so don’t get mad at her. It really hurt. Really hurt.” Cassy couldn’t stop crying when she said this.
“It’s alright, baby, no one has a knife. I’m here,” Mrs. Salvi crooned. “Are you hurt? Does your tummy hurt? Let’s go inside and talk to daddy.” she started to pick her up when Cassy jumped out of her arms.
“No, Mommy, it hurt then! That guy with th-the knife, he j-just hurt her! I couldn’t h-help my friend, Mommy!” Cassy collapsed in a massive fit of tears, not disagreeing when Mrs. Salvi picked her up for a second time.
After that scene, Mrs. Salvi took her upstairs to her bed where Cassy finally just cried herself to sleep.
. . . .
“Did we ever speak about it in front of her,” Mr. Salvi kept asking, white knuckles in a death grip around his coffee mug. “My niece. . . . could she have known?”
Mrs. Salvi was sitting at the table, crying. What do you make of a daughter talking about a dead girl and knives? “No, we never said anything. Did one of her cousins, or maybe one of your sisters tell her?”
“No, they would all have enough sense to know she’s not old enough.” At that point, tears started to slip under his eyes as well.
“What’s happened to our daughter?” Mrs. Salvi was at the point of wailing.
Mr. Salvi put his arms around her for comfort. “I don’t know, but I think that the only person who could tell you is her.”
“Hey, Mom,” Cassy says, dropping her tennis tuff down by the stairs, then heading into the kitchen.
“Hey, how was the match?” Mrs. Salvi asks, a little distracted with her phone.
“It was fine. You know, I had this really weird dream last night, but all I remember is seeing a girl that I don’t think I’d ever seen before.”
“Speaking of last night, how late were you up?” Mrs. Salvi asks, bringing her attention fully to her daughter. “I could hear banging and thumping coming from your room or something much past when you should’ve been in bed. You knew it was a school night young lady.” The concerned mother went back to her phone, waiting for her daughter’s explanation.
“What? I wasn’t up that late. What do you mean?” Cassy looked genuinely confused. “I went to bed at, like, 10:30.”
“Mmhm, sure,” Mrs. Salvi said, not confident if she should believe her daughter.
“I’m being serious! I could show you the text of when I told Brady goodnight, too!” She pulled up a text on her phone and held it up to her mother's face. The time of the last text said 10:27 PM.
“Oh. then what were those noises?”
“Maybe you were too tired, Mom. Can I go with Molly over to the library so we can study for finals today? We don't have that much time left.” she said as she scavenged through the fridge. Mrs. Salvi didn’t reply, again distracted at the thought of her phone, so Cassy just moved on to preparing herself food. She grabbed the watermelon and a knife, but she couldn’t cut it. She stood there, staring not at the watermelon, but at the knife, sitting in her trembling fingers. “It was a knife like this,” she said, still hypnotized by the sparkling gleam of the beautiful knife.
Mrs. Salvi, startled by the words, looked up. “What?”
“A knife like this killed her,” Cassy said, her knees starting to buckle beneath her.
“Who?” Mrs. Salvi was fearing for her daughter, not knowing what her mind was seeing.
“It was a knife like this that killed Cassy,” the shaking girl said as she dropped the knife and it clattered to the floor.