Melanie quietly shut the door to her room and gripped the frame, hands shaking nervously. She had just killed someone.
You did the right thing. No, you did a terrible thing. You had a good reason. That wasn’t a good enough motive. “Shut up, both of you.” Her thoughts went to their respective corners silently. She relaxed, leaning against the door, but instantly regretted it as she saw Dani’s innocent blue eyes, thick dark hair, the weight of her body slumping against her after she slit her throat. Melanie shuddered.
They'll never forgive you. Yes they will. No they won't. She couldn't handle it. When Dani's parents realized that she was missing, they'd search her phone and see the texts from Melanie. She was the last person to see Dani alive.Why didn’t you take the phone? She had no other alibi than the girl who was now dead. You didn’t cover your tracks, they’ll definitely catch you now. How could she have been so careless? I panicked! She yelled to whoever was making all the noise in her head. I could only think of taking her out. My head wasn’t on straight.
That’s for sure. She narrowed her eyes. She couldn’t be caught. She just couldn’t. Her mom had lost enough, she couldn’t lose her only child too. But nothing was rationalizing in her brain. Only one fact stood. She was a murderer.
Her thoughts echoed inside her brain, fighting each other to be the loudest. She shut her eyes. Dani’s piercing blue eyes stared back at her. You did this to me. Her eyelids flew open. I have to get out of here. She grabbed her coat from the hook off the door, and left her room behind.
Tears clouded Melanie’s vision as she drove in the dark. Rain pounded on the windshield, threatening to crack it. Continuous sobs wracked her chest, making her hands unsteady on the wheel. She wiped her eyes, but the tears kept flowing, and she kept driving, with no destination in mind.
At around 1:30 am, Melanie’s car dinged. She looked at the gas, quarter of a tank left until empty. She glanced up, trying to make out the road signs, to see where the nearest gas station was, but there weren’t any. Weird. And soon she realized she didn’t recognize anything. None of the houses, the roads, nothing. No. No. No. She must have taken a wrong turn somewhere. And with the storm and her tears, anything was possible. This can’t be happening.
She tried to stay calm, but once again her thoughts took over. A run away murderer, eh? Not too shabby. She wiped a hand over her face, and drove slowly, attempting to see if any of the lights were on in the rows of identical cottages. But why would they be? She was some girl who had killed another kid, roaming around in the middle of the night, expecting some stranger to let her into their house to do what exactly? Tell her mom where she had been? Tell her where the nearest gas station was? But it didn’t look like there were retail businesses for miles. She pulled over and reached for her phone. A red battery showed up on the screen when she pushed the home button. Dead. Great. You're a murderer, stranded in a strange town, trying to run away from your own thoughts.
She was hopeless. That is, until, a little light of hope flickered out of the corner of her eye. She swirled her head to stare out of the passenger side window. In the shadows, was the silhouette of a woman, hunched over with a cloak draping over her, holding an oil lantern and what appeared to be….a magic wand. What in the wizarding world-?
Melanie blinked repeatedly. This was impossible. But the imaginative side of her said, even the impossible is possible. She squinted, trying to stop the mind games, but she couldn’t see anything from this far away in the car. And the rain wasn’t helping any. The rational thing to do was keep driving. But the kid in her wanted to explore. Yeah, get out in the middle of the night and wander into the woods to follow some creepy lady. With no phone or way to contact help, might I add? She pondered for a moment, before grabbing the spare flashlight under her seat, unbuckling her seat belt, throwing her hood over her curls, and turning the car off.
The lantern light was fading and Melanie sped up, the wind nipping at her cheeks. She almost slipped in the mud, but didn’t stop. As the strange woman turned past some trees, Melanie crouched down and watched.
There was a cottage in the middle of a clearing, no bigger than a shed. The woman looked over her shoulder to see if anyone had followed her and Melanie sank lower into the ground. When the coast was clear, the cloaked lady opened the creaky front door and walked inside.
What are you doing here? She waited a beat before following the woman’s path. There was a tiny circular window on the wooden door, and Melanie peeked through. Inside, she saw the woman hang up her cloak, and set her lantern down on a table across from the door. She had shelves covering almost every wall, and they were lined with jars of all colors and sizes. Melanie tried, but she couldn’t read the labels from where she was standing.
“You might as well come in already. Don’t want you getting pneumonia from standing out in that cold.” Melanie froze. How did she see me? “I’m not blind you know.” The woman’s voice came again, as if reading her mind. “Come in.” Her voice was firm yet soft. Like how a mother’s should be. Melanie stepped back, and the door creaked open itself. Her jaw dropped. “If that surprises you, hold onto your hat.” This woman is insane. “Insane? Well it depends on who you ask. Close the door will you?” Melanie stepped inside obediently, and the door closed on its own behind her.
With a closer look, Melanie saw that the lady didn’t look like she thought she would. Bushy brown hair with a few grays mixed in, and a black swing dress. “You expected a wart didn’t you?” She chuckled. Melanie stood, hands clasped in front of her. “You talk a lot too. In your head I mean.” Her eyes widened. This was getting weirder and weirder by the minute. The woman walked to the other side of the room, where there was- a cauldron?! “I’m a witch. Get over it and sit down.” She wasn’t rude, just matter-of-fact. Melanie sat down at the table where she had gestured. Across from her seat, was an antique full body mirror, with a gold floral trim, and a crack snaking down the middle.
“Why are you here?” The witch asked, leaning over the pot.
“I - I was lost, and I followed you. But I came here by mistake.”
“No one comes to Granger by accident.”
“So again, I ask you. Why are you here? What are you seeking?”
What was she seeking? Is this a three wishes type thing?
She only scoffed, continuing to stir.
What did Melanie need? She closed her eyes, but Dani’s face shone against her eyelids. When she looked up again, the woman was standing in front of her. Melanie jumped in surprise. She reached out her hand for Melanie, who placed a shaking palm into hers. The woman hummed and then whispered, “Close your eyes.” She’s going to kill you.
‘I’m not the murderer here.’ Melanie opened her eyes, but the voice didn’t come from her head, or the witch.
“Close.” She whispered. Melanie complied.
‘What do you want to see.’ The same bodiless voice spoke.
I want to forget.
Dani looked back at her.
I want to forget what I’ve done.
Her eyes rolled to the back of her head.
Melanie’s head snapped up. She was standing in front of the mirror. She blinked rapidly, not remembering getting up from the table. When she peered into the glass her reflection wasn’t staring back at her. It was a street. Her street. Cole and Ema were walking towards her house. “When is this?” Melanie asked, leaning in closer. If it were a regular mirror, Melanie’s breath would have fogged it. But as she got closer and closer, she began to fall. Except it didn’t feel like falling. She was floating. Floating down to earth, or wherever this strange destination was.
A moment later her feet were on the ground, and she fell in step with Ema and Cole, as she listened to their conversation.
“Should we really be going over here?” Ema asked, nervously.
“Why wouldn’t we? She was our friend. And we can’t let this casserole go to waste.” Melanie looked down at the rectangular dish Cole was holding. Casserole?
“She won’t want it if you made it.” Ema said, elbowing him playfully.
Melanie smiled and reached her hand out to touch Ema on the shoulder. But her hand fell straight through. Melanie rolled her eyes. Of course.
The two of them walked in silence the rest of the way to Melanie’s door. Cole knocked and Melanie’s mom opened the door. She shielded her face like the sun was too bright. She stumbled backwards before steadying herself. “Oh, hello Cole. Ema.” She croaked. Melanie surveyed her mom up and down. Her hair looked like a brush hadn’t ever touched it, a torn up robe was wrapped around her, and it was clear she had a hangover.
Ema pulled back and scrunched up her nose. Cole smiled and held out the container. “I made you a casserole.” Melanie’s mom smiled.
“We’re sorry for your loss, Ms. Clark.”
Melanie’s mom scoffed, “No murderer is a daughter of mine. But thank you for the thought, and the casserole.” She took the dish from his outstretched arms and began to close the front door. “I’ll make sure to get this back to you once I’m done.”
“No worries.” Cole called, slowly walking away from the house with Ema “Take care Ms. Clark.”
With that, her mom shut the door. The two headed off down the road again and Melanie tagged along, an invisible third wheel. Ema broke the silence first, “Well that went better than expected.”
Cole only responded by wrapping his arm around Ema’s shoulder. “Everything’ll be okay Em.”
She bit her lip. “It won’t though Cole.” She broke away from under his arm. “Nothing about this is okay. Everyone thinks my best friend is a murderer. She didn’t tell me how she was feeling or what she was thinking. We promised we wouldn’t keep things from each other after-” Her voice broke. Melanie didn’t need her to finish to know what she was talking about.
Their sophomore year of high school, it was Ema, Melanie and Cali. A trio. Cali’s boyfriend was abusive and didn’t tell them. One day the two went out and he beat her so badly that she ended up in the hospital and was dead by morning. Melanie and Ema went through her diary and read about what he was doing the week after the incident, when Cali’s mom asked them to help her clear out some of her stuff. Cali’s secret killed her, so the girls promised to never keep secrets from each other.
Melanie had to make this right. She reached out to touch Ema again, but got the same result. She threw her hands down at her sides. She watched as Cole embraced Ema and she cried into his shoulder. This is your fault. Melanie closed her eyes, Dani looked up at her again. She focused on the guilt and tried to pull herself from this world and back into the witch’s cottage.
Melanie yanked her head up and gasped for air, like she had just been underwater. She stumbled backwards knocking a jar to the floor. The woman caught her and helped her stand upright.
“Did you see what you wanted to see?” She asked, her british accent more audible.
No. Would be the correct answer. Melanie had wanted to forget what she had done. Not be shown what would happen because of it. But she needed that reminder. She needed to know what was going to happen to her loved ones because she had been jealous. Melanie nodded. The woman handed Melanie a map. She took it and smiled, looking into the witch’s twinkling eyes.
Inside her car, Melanie expanded the map and studied it. Apparently she was in a town called Guilford, the closest police station was three miles away. She followed the instructions, knowing she couldn’t turn back.
5 minutes later Melanie arrived. She sighed. There was never enough time for anyone. Dani didn’t have enough time, and it was because of her. Melanie needed to be punished. It was the only way to stop what she saw in the looking glass from happening. She needed to prevent Ema’s heart from getting ripped to shreds, and stop the hole in her mom’s soul. But then again, nothing is for sure. Melanie didn’t know if turning herself in would stop these future events from happening. Maybe if she walked away right now and never looked back at her past life, everyone would be better off. But a voice inside told her that she had to do this. She had to do it for everyone she loved, even if they wouldn’t love her anymore. She wanted to try to change the way she was remembered in the future.