It’s the middle of the week of the same routine. Wake up, go to school, come home, go to bed. Sure, there are some in between things, but it’s the same every day. Not something I pride myself in. It’s boring and nothing new ever happens. I wouldn’t even know what to do if something new happened. I walk the same path to school. The one behind my house, down to the creek to the bike path. That trail leads straight to school. No one around to bother me as I walk either. Its quiet except for the music playing in my pierced ears. My cowboy boots thump along the paved route. Its only about a ten-minute walk to the high school I go too. Another place that is always the same. The same people, the same classes, the same bad cafeteria food. Its always the same.
I walk quietly through those double doors, my head down, keeping to myself. Like I always do. People push past me, not bothering to apologize. Not that I care. I’m nothing anyway. Never have been. Nothing can change the things I’ve done. I’m a senior now and I’ll be out of here and no one will ever have to see me again. Not that they see me now anyway. It was one mistake, but it was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. Nothing will change the things I did. Nothing will bring back the one I lost three years ago.
I heave a sigh before entering my first class. I go to the back of the room and take a seat at my desk. They still stare at me, every now and then. The look of disgust written all over their faces. There is nothing that is worse than that. I like it when they ignore me. It only makes me slump more in my seat. Hiding myself behind my textbook. Once class begins, the tension in the room seems to lessen. If only for a little bit.
“Class we have a new student joining us.” The teacher says.
I look up and see a small girl with brunette hair, pulled back in a ponytail. She is wearing pink oval shaped glasses over bright blue eyes. She’s beautiful, but I can’t get my hopes up. Everyone will get to her first. She would never want to speak of even look at me. No pint to keep staring, so I look back down.
“Please take a seat next to Corey. Corey raise your hand please.”
Everyone turns and looks at me. Staring daggers into me. It makes me afraid to raise my hand. My mouth falls open in surprise and I slowly raise my hand. The new girl looks straight at me. The weirdest part is she has a small smile on her face. Like she already knows me. Her eyes seem to sparkle, but it may just be the light glaring off her glasses. I leave my hand up for a few seconds before dropping it and my gaze. Footsteps come my way, getting louder the closer they come. Out of the corner of my eye, I watch her sit down. Her backpack falls to the floor next to her. Landing with a small thump.
“Hi.” Her voice is light and fruity. “My names Kate. It’s Corey, right?”
I shift my eyes her way and nod my head. I’m not going to bother with attempting to speak to her. There’s no point. “Can you speak?” She whispers.
I open my mouth, maybe to speak, maybe not. I don’t get a chance as the teacher begins to speak. I do my best to keep my eyes up front. I don’t need to get into any more trouble. I’m still in enough from years ago. I just wish people would forget my mistake. I used to be the one everybody loved and knew. But now it doesn’t matter. No one cares about me anymore. I’m a nobody. The bell rings in the distance, shaking me from my self-doubt.
“What’s your next class?” Her soft voice fills my ears.
“Physics.” I say quietly.
“You do speak.” She giggles. It’s the cutest thing I’ve ever heard.
“Kate, let me walk you to your next class.” One of the other girls ask, grabbing her arm and pulling her away.
I watch as they practically drag her out the door. Kate continued to look over her shoulder at me. It feels odd to have someone stare at me in something other than anger. Maybe this could be my chance to make thigs right. That is until I hear them all talking to her about me as I walk past. I should of known I’d never get someone on my side. The vultures her get to the new people before I can even say hi. It’s unfair but I probably deserve it.
It’s at lunch when I feel the bench move. No one has sat next to me since about three years ago. Since the last person to sit next to me. The last one who believed in me and I failed them.
“Is what they said true?” The same girl from this morning.
“Depends on what they told you but it most likely is true.” My voice is monotone.
“They said you killed your girlfriend freshman year but got away with it.”
“Yeah I killed her.” I know the sadness is coming through. It’s always hard to talk about her.
“But you didn’t mean too. I looked it up. They said you tried to save her after it happened.”
“No one cares about that.”
“You shouldn’t. I’m a monster. You probably shouldn’t be seen with me. If you wat to have friends in this place.” I growl attempting to scare her away. It’s what’s best for her.
“I think they just need someone to blame for the loss of a friend.”
“Yeah well it doesn’t matter. Everyone blames me. Even my own parents.” The last part I say in a whisper.
“No one was there. Its not fair for them to blame you.”
“You don’t know anything.” I raise my voice. “Just stay away from me.”
This time I get up and leave. Nothing she says will fix the mistakes I have done. The sins I have committed. She doesn’t understand. You can’t change the past or the minds of those who blame me. it’s over for me. it’s all over. I can’t be anything but a murderer until I graduate and leave this place. That’s only five months away. I can survive until then. I hope.
Everyday after that moment. Kate would sit next to me. She would talk to me. I would either walk away or yell at her, but she kept coming back. Sometimes I wouldn’t have the energy to leave and would just let her talk. She didn’t always talk about what I’ve done. She would talk about her childhood, her hobbies, her future. I knew everything about her by the end of the month. After that she slowly started breaking down my walls. I felt I could trust her. She didn’t talk to anyone else; she was always next to me. I felt I wasn’t alone for the first time in a long time.
“Corey!” She yells as I walk through the corridor of the school.
“Hey Kate.” I smile for the first time in a while.
We link arms and walk to class together. Its been like this the past couple days. I haven’t let her in too much, but she’s getting close. She is trying to get me to talk about my past. About the murder she says I didn’t commit, but I won’t give in. I’m just not ready. It is still fresh in my mind. Way to fresh. The pictures from that day are imbedded in my brain. Vivid in my nightmares. Though lately, things have been calming down. I feel at ease, more than I have in a while.
After school we walk down to the trail that leads to my house. The path I take everyday to school. It turns out she moved into a house near mine. So, we walk to and from school every day. Before we go our separate ways, we take a seat on a local bench.
“So, can we talk about what happened now? Or at least so I can know your side?” She says it so quietly I almost miss what she says.
“I haven’t talked about it since it happened. It seems pointless to talk about.” I answer shrugging my shoulders.
“But maybe it would feel better to talk about it?” She scooches closer to me.
“It won’t change things.” I can feel the tears in my eyes starting to swell.
“But it might help you let go. Giving you a second chance.”
I realize she isn’t going to let go. I heave a sigh and glance her way. She is sitting close, her hands folded in her lap. Her blue eyes staring intently at me. They are wide and filled with curiosity. How can I deny her? So, in that moment I decided to release my inner demons.
I start from the beginning. Telling her about a beautiful young woman who stole my heart. I know we were young, but I would have followed her to the moon and back. Then the fighting and accusations. The painful thought of her breaking my heart. Then the night she died. Letting her walk away and the car hitting her. Everyone said I pushed her. That I shoved her as she had her back turned to me. No one cared that I kneeled on the ground next to her beaten bleeding body. Pushing my hands hard against the open wounds to stop her from bleeding out. the tears I cried as she took her last breath, holding her close to my chest.
“She said she was sorry, and she forgave me as I held her. She knew she wasn’t going to make it. If I hadn’t let her walk away. She would still be here.” I can feel the tears streaming down my face. There is nothing I can do to stop them either.
“She knew it was over. She knew it was the last time she would see you. She forgave you. All that matters is that she had no bad feelings for you in the end. You should be proud of that.” Her hand touches my shoulder lightly.
“I just wish everyone else could understand that. But I can’t be proud of that. I let her die. I let her get hit. She should have never forgiven me.” My voice comes out hoarse as I choke back more tears.
“I forgive you.”
I look up at her, my eyes wide. I don’t understand what she means. I notice tears in her eyes too. She takes off her glasses and it’s the first time I really see her eyes. I recognize them. I know those eyes.
“I’m surprised you haven’t put two and two together. You were always so smart.” She smiles.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I wanted to actually get to know you first. After I heard about the accident, I blamed you too, but I never had the full story. Only what other people told me. I begged my parents to let me go back to school after I found my sisters old diary. She loved you Corey. And I know you would have never done anything to hurt her. So, I needed to find out myself. And I forgive you. I know you tried to save her. I just knew you weren’t the monster they said you were.”
“You believe me?”
“Yes, I do. You didn’t make a mistake. My sister did walking out into the street and not looking for cars. She made the mistake trying to leave you and all you did was try and save her. And I know she loved you. She just didn’t know how to express it.”
Without thinking I wrap my arms around Kate and pull her into me. Holding on tight to her. Maybe I can make things right. Maybe I can start over again. Maybe this is my second chance.