Oh my god. I just came home from a run – it’s about 11pm here – and I found a letter in my mailbox, a strange one. I thought for sure I’d already picked up the mail on the way in from work tonight, but I have just barely been going through the motions lately and it is possible I missed one. I hate reaching all the way to the back of the box, something about it just absolutely frightens me.
I’m not sure what I expected to find. You read about this kind of crap on the internet and see it in horror films, but you never actually expect it to happen to you. The letter reads: I know what you did, you sick, disgusting, evil incarnate. It took me a while, but now I know the truth; I know about all of the lies you told and what you did to Kristyn that summer. I know. And I’m going to tell everyone.
For a moment I chuckled – a sinister something I learned to enjoy when I was young, an attribute of my dark side.
See the thing is, no one was around when I did it, so someone had to have been watching me; a thought I couldn’t bear. I have lived in paranoia since it happened, constantly looking over my shoulder while I work, double checking the backseat of my car before I get in it – sometimes I check my trunk, but I have to do it at least three times…my OCD won’t allow for otherwise.
I’ve spent the better part of tonight pacing my floor, trying to make out who could have sent me this letter. The incident with Kristyn was two years ago, approaching three. To think that someone has been following me this long gives me the creeps. I’m justified in this right? Shit, I am so scared to sleep tonight. I just keep thinking about it…I’m not that interesting of a person, my routine is boring – I can’t think of anything that even remotely makes me stand out to a potential stalker or whatever.
I guess you deserve to know what happened with Kristyn. I wish I had a more elaborate story for what I did to her, but I don’t. We were always running together, different marathons, different paths, different trails. We traveled together to find the best paths to train on – all over the country. We both loved the outdoors; we grew up spending our days seeing who could sweat the most, who could climb higher and who could swim the farthest. Kristyn was always better, always having to aid me in some way. I knew she was superior, or would find a way to be, but still I continued to allow her to beat me. I hated how humble she was about it too – like she didn’t know how great she was. This stretched from athletics and academics to boys and popularity. I was, of course, cool by association, but Kristyn was always the star. I never knew how much it bothered me, how much it consumed me, until I let it go too far. It was like in one instant, I snapped. In one instant, I chose to kill my best friend.
It was the summer after college graduation, and we were biking some pretty serious terrain in Colorado, training for a competition. Kris hit a huge rock and fell off her bike. Then bounced off a giant old tree – a maneuver that no doubt cracked her spine or her head – and proceeded to roll down a hill that was completely covered in other branches, thorns and rocks. I ran down the hill as fast as I could to help Kristyn when it occurred to me: this was my moment. I had a choice to become the victim and the hero simultaneously.
I don’t know why, but that sentiment has always interpreted as, “villain,” to me. I just don’t feel like you can really be both without sacrificing something, and at a very high price.
I stood over her mostly lifeless body and examined her. She was beautiful, like a modern Kathryn Hepburn or something; bloody, different bones sticking out of different parts of her Lululemon pants, disfigured but still gorgeous; it made me sick. She looked at me pleadingly and I looked her in the eye and said, “I’m sorry,” and watched her die; I let it happen. I convinced myself that for this to look real, so I wouldn’t look like I’d killed, that I had to be injured too. I biked back up the path and came down again, this time at a higher speed….just not fast enough to kill me. I aimed for the rock that Kristyn had hit and hit it in the perfect spot. I calculated that if I hit it just right of where Kristyn had, I’d end up in front of the rock, directly in the bike path so someone would find me – us. I mean so someone would find us.
I honestly don’t know what made me do it. I could have easily saved her. It’s amazing what happens to your psyche when you know no one is watching. I laid there with my head bleeding, knowing I would survive. I had thorns everywhere, pricking my skin; I tried not to pick at them, which wasn’t hard since I couldn’t really move my wrist. I had to look like I was in real pain and I’d done a splendid job with authenticity. I was in mind-numbing pain. I just knew someone would eventually find me; it was still early in the day and bike paths were busy on beautiful days like that.
No one came down the path that day. The plan had backfired. I laid in a pool of my own blood for far longer than I cared. The second morning arrived and I woke with blurred vision. I had a blanket over me and there was an orange laying by my feet. I tried to sit up to grab it, but no use. I wasn’t strong enough. I assumed I’d lost too much blood.
Someone had been here to cover me. Had they seen Kristyn’s body? Why hadn’t they taken me to a hospital? The curiosity was killing me; I had to know what was going on. How had no one found me yet? Who had covered me? I turned my torso as best as I could so I could reach the orange with my left hand. With luck, I rolled it towards me and started peeling; it was just enough to get me back on wobbling legs and feet. Not only was Kristyn’s body nowhere to be found, but I wasn’t even on the same part of the bike path. I wasn’t in woods I recognized and our bikes were chained up on a tree about five-hundred feet in from where I was standing.
I kept my panicking brief. From long years of being an outdoor girl, playing in fields and forests and visiting my grandfather’s farm, I was unusually mentally prepared for a situation like this. I took a deep breath in and let out a loud sigh for Kristyn, the first of many I would make. A regrettable sigh – the amount of grief her death has caused me just hasn’t been worth it. Feeling like I was in her shadow constantly was nothing compared to her afterglow. It was like the rest of the world just wouldn’t let her die. I combed that area for unusual things. I turned stones over and rustled leaves, looking for the key to unlock my bike. I searched for over an hour and knew I was losing speed, dizzying hotheadedness clouded my judgment on what was what – I had to get out of the woods.
I walked until I stammered. I crawled. The palms of my hands and knees were bloody and my head was starting to crust and smell with infection. Five days total in the woods and on the road without water or sleep, but I finally found my way to a park ranger’s lodge…about fifty miles from where Kristyn and I had been biking. I had no idea how I’d arrived there. When you’re lost in a fog that thick, there isn’t much you can do.
Those five days were the most horrific time in my life, and the days and months that have followed have been even worse. I’m numb from the experience, really. I am constantly asked for interviews and I decline. I have been asked to write articles and blogs and books; I can’t do it. The first year was the worst, but things have seemed better lately; I was finally starting to let go of my guilt.
That was, until I received this letter. I’m going to take some melatonin and try to get some sleep, though I doubt I’ll have any success. I’m really upset about all of this and I didn’t know where else to say something. I’ll keep you posted on what happens.
I just woke up and checked my mailbox and I found something else in there. Another envelop addressed to me, though it wasn’t a letter, it was a key with a yellow sticky note that had an address on it and a nasty, crusty coffee ring.
I’m debating on whether or not to go to the address. I don’t recognize the key. I know it’s not to a house or a car; it looks like it could go to a mailbox, but I’m not sure how to locate that. Wouldn’t it look odd if I went to the Post Office and asked what box the key belonged to?
I showed the key to my mom when I came back in from the mailbox and she said it looked just like the key to her old bike lock, which she hadn’t seen in a while. I borrowed that lock when I went biking with Kristyn, but my belongings were never found and I’d put the key in the front zipper of my backpack. It’s not possible, is it?
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.
—- seriously, if anyone knows Kristyn or has any info on this story, message me.