I’ve thought about this all day and I just couldn’t help myself. I got in my car an hour ago and drove to the address that was on the post-it. It was a park that I’d played at as a child, which was odd but it is also the only decent park on this side of town, so that eased my tension a little. I looked around and saw nothing that could be opened with a key. I was flooded with nerves and disappointment, curiosity brimming. As I was exiting the parking-lot, I saw it. My tires screeched as they came to a gear-stripping halt. My bike was locked on the bike rack, with the same bike lock I’d borrowed from my mom for that trip – my backpack was hanging off of the handlebars. It all looked just as it did two years ago.
All I could do was stare until I felt eyes on me. I hurriedly unlocked the bike with fumbling hands and loaded it in my car, careful to place my backpack in the passenger seat.
I’ve been staring at it for hours, I’m too scared to open it. I don’t know who found it or where it has been all this time. For all I know, there’s a bomb in it.
I’m going to unzip it.
The contents are just the same, though newer: new Nathan water bottle, half-full as it was the day of the incident, a Kind bar, Kristyn’s sunglasses case, my inhaler. It’s all here, including a note that says, “Soon.” It’s written on the same yellow post-it note, and has the same crusted coffee ring around it.
Pieces just aren’t fitting together for me. Who knows what happened? Who is going to tell? How did they have my bike and my backpack from that day?
I remember packing it. Kristyn’s mom was notorious for burning breakfast, so I’d made two extra peanut butter sandwiches in case she was hungry. I filled my water jug up, stuck my favorite snack bars in the interior pockets next to a few small first aid items, headphones, and I made sure I had a map of the trail we were riding. I hadn’t made any elaborate plans…just the usual stuff we needed for a normal, conditioning bike ride.
It’s all I can do to peel my eyes away from these things to write this.
Ugh, I thought I hit submit. I had another sleepless night retracing my steps. I’m sorry if this entry seems misplaced, delirium isn’t something I can fight.
Nothing peculiar happened after Kristyn, “disappeared.” She just wouldn’t die, though I’d watched the life slip from her. After my parents picked me up from the park, reporters, photographers and journalists were camped out in front of my house. The story was sensational for over a year.
I still can’t go to Walgreens without someone raising their eyebrows at me, either in speculation or sorrow; it’s usually one or the other, sometimes both. I was interviewed but never accused or convicted of any crime, of course not, not me. I was golden to her family. We were like sisters, closer than that if there is a term for such endearment. That’s partially why I did what I did, why it registered as an okay thing to do. I knew no one would ever look to me, ever suspect me in her death; I was too close.
The whole thing is really out-of-hand in my mind; layers upon layers of lies. I couldn’t have saved her, but I could have told the truth. Damn it, I just wanted to survive and be remembered for bravery; I wanted to be the one who made it, who had to mourn and live life without her best friend by her side, and I wanted the world to watch.
All that happened was the mourning. My survival was overshadowed by the mystery that is Kristyn’s disappearance.
People are still hopeful she’ll come back; my pain, perseverance and tangible presence still doesn’t matter to anyone. Her death, the lie I can barely live with some days and a total mystery, to everyone – including me – still manages to be more important than the life that is still actually being lived.
I’ve emptied the backpack and stuffed it in the back of my closet, hoping to never look at it again. I hid it behind shit I forgot I had – that deep, for safe keeping.
I’m really on edge.