By: Riley M.
Genre: YA Contemporary
*1st 500 Words
Her keys are the way I remember them. It’s been two weeks and they’re all I remember. Sure, there’s the fact that she was the only girl who ever kissed me and the fact that her second grade school picture is still in my wallet and the fact that she’s dead. But no, it’s the way the first key still looks freshly minted after four years and that the second key looks like it’s from the 1800’s and she never told me what it went to, and the house key that actually went to my house instead of hers.
This morning, the 20th of November. Her keys were at the creek in her backyard, just past the last row of trees, hanging from a branch on the birch tree we used to swing on. Cass never left them there. I thought they’d feel safe, like she did, but they didn’t. They were knives, slicing my palm from the life line all the way up through my veins but I don’t miss her.
The girl with the tattoo on her neck asks me if I “miss Cassandra because she always saw us talking” and I glance in her direction for all of three seconds before she walks away. Owen catches up with me, his sneakers falling into a clomp clompclomp clompclomp rhythm next to mine, and he struggles to catch his breath.
“Not a chance.”
He snorts. “Damn, August, you’d think after all this time, this might be a reliable system.” We round the last corner before Owen is due to Economics and I’ve got a free period. “Some friend you are…”
He has twenty-seven seconds before the bell rings. “Hey,” I shoot back, “Cass is the one who steals my homework for you to copy. I’ve always been against the whole thing. Blame her.”
Owen just stares straight ahead out the doorway, frozen like he’s never seen me before. I know what he’s thinking. It’s the same thing everyone is.
I lied to you, just now. I don’t have a free period. I’m supposed to be in Calculus but I’m not really sure what I’m doing there anyway. 32% on the last test and an average in the 40s isn’t exactly the sign of someone who has all the answers. Truth is, I have no idea what I’m doing at all, sitting in my old pick-up truck, clutching Cass’s keys and willing myself to do something other than this.
I know I could sit here for another six hours, listening to nothing but the rattle of her keys but I know that isn’t what my mother wants. My mother hated hates Cass.
I trace the outline of the big key with my index finger and am suddenly brought back to the last time I held these keys, before everything happened.