I hang over the rusty railing, hands dangling into the water. Further out, the wind ripples the water’s surface. The sun hides behind a blanket of clouds. Somewhere in the distance, thunder rumbles.

I hear my every breath like a thin whisper. My chest aches from pulling in the chilly air.

On the other side of the lake, a boy kneels by the water, his jeans soaked with the muddy liquid. His shoulders shake as if he’s crying.

I watch as he gets up, dusting off his pants even though it’s useless- water, like blood, never comes out of something as stubborn as cloth.

He walks to the edge of the woods and glances over his shoulder. A person trespassing as I, is not suspicious. A person leaving through the woods is, however.

I wait until I see him disappear between two trees. That’s when I get up, nod to the lake and the secrets that lurk below the surface and follow the hooded figure. It’s dangerous, I know that. I’m young, not stupid… Just reckless, nosey.

It takes awhile to get around the lake. Even with running. I worry the guy may have ran ahead and lost me.

Fuck this. Why am I chasing him? Doesn’t matter! But still, my feet carry me into the woods and down a small path, barely visible.

Further down, I hear voices. A soft gentle murmur, a higher pitched one begs for something.

I inch closer, my shoes silent amongst the shrubs and saplings. I near a tree, using it as a cover.

“I wouldn’t, you know I wouldn’t,” a boy- probably seventeen or eighteen- murmurs.

He’s dressed in a black hoodie and dirty jeans, wisps of black hair slink into his eyes. His dark eyes pierce the young girl he’s looking at.

“I know what you did,” the girl says, her voice full of fear.

“I wouldn’t hurt her,” the boy says, his arm sliding up her shirt.

She squirms away, holding out her hands. He makes a pout face and reaches out again.

“Please,” she whispers.

“Come on,” he murmurs, stepping forward.

“I don’t want to see you anymore,” she says.

His head snaps back, his hood falling from his head. She backs away, reaching for a nearby tree. But he advances, pinning her against the tree.

“You don’t mean that,” he whispers, touching her face. “Right angel?”

His eyes are puffy. He was crying by the lake- alone.

“I do mean it,” she swallows hard, her face pale.

“Oh, baby,” he shifts his weight onto her, pinning her, “haven’t you learned to fear me?”

Her breath comes fast, her eyes darting. I try to decide if I should step in or-

“I killed her ever so slowly, I watched as her eyes rolled… god, her last word was my name,” he chuckles darkly.

“You killed her?” The girl asks.

I flinch hard, my head smacking the tree. Some of the bark crumbles and falls noisily to the ground. I curse myself silently as the boy pulls away from the girl and looks around for the eavesdropper.

The girl glances around, her gaze landing on me. I bring a single finger to my lips and mouth, “distract him.”

“I- I have to go, Jay,” she says, a weak attempt.

“Really? Where?” His voice is still creepy.

“H-home,” she nods slowly.

I look around, lifting a stick from the ground, my best weapon. I almost laugh at myself as I wield a stick in the middle of the woods, eyeing my defenseless prey. I creep up behind him- after all, he admitted he murdered a girl.

I sling the stick around his throat, pinning him to my chest, as I attempt to choke him out.

“Oh ma gawd, oh ma gawd,” the girl starts screaming, her hands over her mouth.

“Do you have a phone?” I yell, wrestling with the murderer.

“No, no,” she says, frantic.

“Call the cops- someone,” I toss my phone her way.

The boy twists and turns, trying anything to break my grip as the girl fumbles for the phone.

“Your passcode?” She asks, hands shaking.

“Two, zero, zero, zero,” my grip slides as the boy jerks.

“Asshole,” he hollers, voice strained against the stick.

“You killed a girl, I’m the asshole?” I yell.

The girl starts talking into the phone, backing away from the fight in front of her. Her voice shakes, her makeup smeared with tracks of tears. She explains to the lady where we are.

“The woods. The woods, I don’t know!”

The man fists my hair, yanking my head down, smacking my skull against his. I hear my ears pop, the girl’s voice goes in and out like a bad radio.

I catch him as he barrels toward the girl, in attempt to take the phone. She leaps away as I fly through the air, pinning him to the ground. He swings around, his fists catching my face twice. Blood bubbles down my face.

I swing in return, turning the fight into a bloodbath. The guy grunts as I break his nose in one swipe. The girl trembles a yard away, phone in hand, frozen at the sight of actual blood.

“H-he killed Stephanie Langio,” the girl says into the phone.

It stuns me, giving the boy enough time to knock me away and pound me with his fists. I hoist him away and pin him down, my movements fueled by anger.

He killed my girlfriend.

My vision blurs, not from tears but anger. I hit him hard, my fists stinging. Far off, sirens scream louder by the minute.

His head slumps. The girl cries, eyes wide. I get up, my fists bloodied and cracked. The sirens scream, I hear shouts and millions of feet on the damp earth, searching.

Not for Stephanie…

But for me.

I look down at the bloody boy who took her life. Then back up at the girl I saved.

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