It was early October. The high school was hosting the homecoming dance in the gym. After the homecoming dance, the students got together to keep the party going in the woods behind the high school where an old mansion sits.
The old mansion belonged to the founding family of this small town. It has been abandoned for years. It has been kept up by the historical society at the high school, which is run by a descendant of the original founding family. This year was different. It was usually warm, with the high 80s during the day and mid-70s at night.
A group of unknowing students, all strangers to each other, wandered deeper into the woods where they stumbled upon a girl, who none of them knew. The girl was beaten and bloody. Her clothes were ripped. Her hair was a tangled mess.
The students were Lily Anne Norton, Oliver Johnson, Polly Strickland, Samantha Pedersen, and Liam Edwards. Lily Anne is the valedictorian of her class. She's graduating in the spring and headed to Harvard Medical in the fall. Oliver Johnson, also known as Ollie to most of the school, is the star quarterback for the high school’s varsity football team and newly crowned homecoming king on his way to West Point in the fall. Polly Strickland, a nobody, keeps to herself, always has her earbuds in so no one talks to her even if nothing is playing. Samantha Pedersen, the new girl, somehow got the head cheerleader position and newly crowned homecoming queen. She cheered for her previous school before she moved into town this past summer. Liam Edwards, the sheriff’s boy, was a goody two shoes, know it all, with a deep dark secret.
“Did you weirdos do this?” Samantha snapped.
“Of course not! We found her,” One of the other students, Liam Edwards snapped back.
The five of them stood there in shock, figuring out what to do.
Lily Anne decided shakily, “we need to vow to tell no one, especially you Liam. You cannot tell your father. We’d all be suspects.”
So right then they vowed to say nothing.
The next day, back at school, was like any other.
One by one, they went to the school guidance counselor, Mrs. Granger, not to tell their secret but to figure out how to deal with it. With every one of them, Mrs. Granger recommended journaling. Lily Anne found a purple hardcover journal that she enjoyed and left Mrs. Granger’s office.
That night she found herself wanting to write. So she sat on her bed, pulled out the journal, and began to write.
Hi. My name is Lily Anne Grace Norton. Mrs. Granger recommended I write in this journal to clear up how I've been feeling. Yesterday was my senior homecoming dance and I was so excited. Obviously, after the dance, everyone went up to the mansion to party. We drank and danced the night away. I got way too drunk and was about to throw up so I ran deeper into the woods. I saw none other than Sam Pederson and Ollie Johnson hooking up against a tree. Of course, that bothered me. I've had a crush on Ollie since we were kids. He’s my neighbor. How could I not fall in love with him. So seeing him with another girl made me angry. I think Sam saw something in the distance because she gasped. She and Ollie went deeper into the woods. I followed them. They noticed I was following them so I caught up to them. Sam was pissed off that I was following them but Ollie didn't mind. He was nice. I think it's because he knows I like him. A couple of other kids were back there too. We vowed to never talk about what we saw. But I had to get my feelings out. That was the most scared I’ve ever been. What happened to her? Why was she here? Who is she? Or I guess who WAS she? I'm hoping Liam Edwards doesn't tell the sheriff what he saw. If he does I hope he doesn't tell him who was back there with him. That could ruin my career. A future doctor that's scared to help someone. That doesn't bode well… oh well… someone is gonna find her and figure it out. I guess I hope so. I'd hate for her family to think she’s missing. Does anyone know she's missing? Does anyone know she's dead? I guess the only people that know she's dead are us and her killer. Did she know her killer? Was she in trouble or was it just circumstantial? Did her killer see us? Are we next? I hate that I'm ending my day this way but I have to get to bed. Bye for now.
With them writing down their feelings every day, what they found still living in their minds, slowly stopped bothering them as much.
Beaten, bloody, and slowly decaying. Clothing ripped. Everyone in town had no idea that there was a search party going on a couple of towns over. A missing 17-year-old girl, brunette, slender. Gone for 72 hours. Her family is assuming the worst. Her hometown’s sheriff’s department is trying its best to find her. It wasn't until the Sheriff's department reached out to Sheriff Edwards to start a search party in his jurisdiction that she would be found and the investigation would start. Sheriff Edwards gathered the search dogs, football team, and any adult volunteers that were worried for the girl they didn’t know. The five students that had originally found her were a part of the search party. They knew they couldn't say anything. It would instantly make them guilty of being accomplices to murder. They tried their best to guide everyone towards the body without confessing that they knew where it was. Oliver decided to split from the group to go look at the spot where they had found her. She was gone. Her body was no longer in the spot the students had seen her. Just blood. He texted Sam who was back with the group, “ She’s gone. She’s not here.”