“I blew her up in that house years ago, Paige. I don’t understand how this could be happening now.”
I watched her face closely and could read unsure blame starting to pool in her eyes. Had she blacked out and done all of these things?
There was enough evidence all over the house and in our yard to prove that she had, but I couldn’t dream of it. Our creepy neighbor from across the street would later be the one convicted for the crime.
“It just can’t be possible….I dropped the match myself.” The whisper in her voice brought me back to present day, away from a memory I was only anticipating.
My mom was lost in thought, referring to her own nightmare of a story.
We were sitting over coffee a few hours later, attempting to rationalize all of the craziness, when the doorbell rang.
It was Kristyn. Right on time.
“Look, I don’t know what kind of sick, fucked up funny joke you think this is, but this accidentally came to my house. It was in my mailbox this morning.”
She handed me an envelope, addressed to me, but with Return to Sender stamped on it. Perfect.
Photographers were gathering in my front yard and I knew I needed to give them a minute to get a few good shots.I stared at her a moment too long, for flair, and closed the door.
That was the last time I would see Kristyn.
I presented the letter to my mom in quiet, calm hysterics, placing blame without actually accusing her. She was already thinking it, I just had to give her a nudge. It was important that this happened, otherwise Langston Gregory wouldn’t have gone to prison for torturing us and previously (coincidentally) sexually assaulting five other women in the early 90s.
Guess I have an eye for this sort of thing.
My mom was flipping through an old photo album now, looking at pictures of her mom; it looked like a collection photos from the Mayan Riviera. I knew all about that trip and what it had done to the grandmother I never got to meet.
After about an hour of convincing me she had nothing to do with sending Letter #6, I claimed fatigue and went up to my room.
Five days later it would start. First they’d search my house, based off an anonymous tip I’d paid a guy to make. This would push my mom to the front of the investigation, which I felt bad about, but knew she’d never be arrested for anything.
Gregory dropped something in my room while he was digging for my backpack; a small something that was overlooked. His house was searched and my DNA, Kristyn’s DNA and copies of every photo in that tiny little house in the woods were found in his garage.
Yes, it was all going to go off without a hitch.
I flung myself on the bed in total satisfaction. I’d nailed it, every last detail of this perfect fucked up story belonged to me.
I had to relive it in my mind just one more time before it was all over, before I let all the details of all the lies I told slip away. I couldn’t afford to have this much knowledge in the days that would follow.
I guess I should explain myself.
I never, ever get any mail and this upsets me to no end. There’s something exciting about receiving something from somewhere else; it’s an excitement I can’t explain.
Kristyn’s boyfriend was three years ahead of us and lived out of state — Colorado, to be exact — and would send her care packages and letters all the time; he was head over heels for her and it made me crazy. Crazy jealous.
When we were on the bike path that day, Kristyn had injured her head quite badly, from the exact fall I described. I didn’t want it to end like this for her, it wasn’t enough for her to just bleed out in bubbly, blonde glory. I made a hasty decision, hoisted her up as best as I could, and for three days, we trekked through the woods, bleeding and starving.
I came upon the little house I left her in, by luck only, and dumped her in. I made myself a little note of where we were in my notebook and moved on; I didn’t have time to sit and linger in the agony of my decision. I back tracked a few miles and left a few things to make it look like I’d been disturbed as well. Locked my bike around the tree, left a jacket and peeled an orange. After that, my first stop was the Park Ranger’s office to report what had happened.
I made everything look completely normal, really went method with it. I practically killed and starved myself for the exact wounds I wanted for when I told the story. I’d pictured it all up to this point.
I drove back and forth to Colorado every three months to feed Kristyn, making sure she could reach things just enough, though starve without dying. I would tell my mom I was going to look for her or train for marathons I never ran.
The important key to it all: I never let her story die. People were beginning to give up, but I couldn’t let that happen. That’s when I started sending myself letters in the mail.
I suppose at first it started as an innocent prank. I realized the third trip or so to Colorado that I’d gone too far and that I needed to wrap up this game.
My mom has said for years how much she wanted to go to New York and I wanted to give her that; the trouble was, it had to look correct. Mom knew all about the mail I’d been receiving and how paranoid I’d been over the last few weeks.
Didn’t I deserve a vacation after all of this hard work?
I dumped Kristyn’s weak body where she laid two years ago and left her to die, one last time. I shouldn’t have been shocked that she didn’t die; ever the survivor, that golden girl.
It didn’t matter now, I didn’t need her to die to remain in the light.
I stumbled my way through the woods and found a Greyhound station three miles from the mouth of the park. I got on a bus which took me to another bus station and so on until I eventually got on the train in Philadelphia. I rode it all the way to Manhattan. I meandered through the city for a few hours, had a slice and a beer, then decided I’d camp out in Sunnyside until my cash ran out.
I’d paid off quite a few people, which is why I picked NYC. People will do just about anything for money in that city so I took advantage. I needed:
- Someone to lock me in a room for a week and starve me.
- Someone to tip off the police about the locked room I was in.
- Someone to help me plant all of the information the detectives would need.
I found all of those things easier than I could have imagined. Once the transactions were made, the whole thing was done and all I needed to do was wait, play my part accordingly.
You know, orchestrating this was expensive, yet less daunting a task as the charade went on.
People can be bought.
I think next time, though, I’ll just send myself cake.