As I walked through the Rivera’s backyard, I could hear the sound of Alicia’s snickering laugh. It rang through my ears like she was right behind me. I swung my head around, filled with a flicker of hope that she might be here. She would say “God Ellie could you be any more stalkerish? Why the hell are you here anyway?”. And I’d smile at her and give her a huge bear hug, just to prove she was real. But no. No one was behind me. I was alone again. I kept walking, past the maple tree we had carved our crush’s names into many summers before. Alongside the white picket fence, with the loose plank that Alicia had accidently broke during one of the many times we snuck out to meet Chloe and Rachel in the park. I came to a holt at the small wooden cross covered in flowers. Just glancing at it made hot, salty tears flood my eyes. I hated thinking about it. About what really happened to her. I’d rather live in a fantasy world; pretend she had just moved away. But somehow, that memory kept creeping into my mind.
~ ~ ~
I was whirled back into that very night. In this same backyard. It was a balmy 83 degrees, which was not uncommon for a Californian summer. The crickets were going mad, their aggressive chirping giving off the true feeling of a summer night. The sun had just set, and Alicia and I were getting ready in her bedroom. We had Nicki Minaj playing softly in the background. “Pass me my shorts?” Alicia asked me while straightening her hair. I threw her navy blue one teaspoon cut-offs at her back, never moving my eyes from my phone. Liam and I had been texting for hours, and he had just replied to me. Alicia turned around and glared at me till I looked up. “What?” I asked in a tooshy voice. “Chill out Ellie, he’s not gonna ask you out if you keep acting like such a dork. Wait a few minutes before you reply! Act cool…” she replied. “What would you know? You haven’t had a boyfriend in months!” I spat back at her. Alicia whipped her head around. “That’s none of your business. I’ve still had more than you! And plus I just haven’t found the right guy. But that’s gonna change after tonight.” She said, smirking before she went back to primping herself. “But I thought we were just going down to the park to meet the girls again? Chloe said she’s bringing Smirnoff, it’s your favourite!” I finally peeled my eyes away from my sidekick, just to see her reaction. “Eh, I can have that whenever I want. But these guys don’t come around often. And I've been so bored since Jake and I broke up, I need some fun in my life. You want me to have fun, don’t you?” Alicia whined. “Yeah alright, but just this once. If Liam finds out about this I’ll lose him for good.” I sighed, distracted once again by the ping noise my phone made when I got a new text. ‘We should go out tomorrow, just you and me. I have something to ask you :) x’ Liam’s text read. Smiling at my phone, I rapidly replied ‘Okay, meet me on the corner of 86th and Broadway, 11:00. Can’t wait to see you :)’. 4 seconds later, my phone lit up for the 78th time that night. ‘Sounds !
utiful :) sleep well x’. I giggled at how he always called me beautiful. “C’mon lets go.” Alicia barked, waking me out of my daydream with Liam. She grabbed her iPhone and gold Winfields and locked the door, then proceeded to climb out her window. I followed behind her, watching her light up a cigarette as soon as she was out on the street.
I stumbled, tripping over a bunch of gerberas, bringing me out of my daze. I couldn’t believe people were still leaving flowers; it had been 8 months since that horrific night when they found her remains. The flashback tried to snake into my thoughts, but I shoved it away. One vivid recount of that night was enough for me. I had to get out of this backyard. I thought it would be a good idea to come back, but boy was I wrong. I turned around and ran, fast. I didn’t stop running until I was halfway down the street. A cool breeze ruffled my through my hair. I felt my phone buzz. Still puffing from my short sprint, I pulled my sidekick out of my pocket. 1 new message. ‘Ellie, I know you’re upset. But can you please just talk to me? Liam’. I grunted, shoving my phone into the back pocket of my shorts. Liam and I had been dating for almost a year now. But I couldn’t forgive him for what he said. Shaking that thought from my head, I slowly started walking again, down to the park. I sat on one of the benches and began to cry. Big, crocodile tears poured out of my eyes. I didn’t want to hold it in any longer. My whole body shook with huge sobs, until I felt like I had no tears left. I glanced over at the bush track. Oh no, I thought. Not another memory. I tried distracting myself, but it was too late. One look was all it took to be taken back.
~ ~ ~
“NO” Alicia said firmly, taking a few steps back from Ben. “Aw c’mon babe, I won’t tell anyone” Ben replied, reaching out and grabbing Alicia by her waist. In one quick swoop, he plunged his head towards hers and forced his tongue into her resistant mouth. She squirmed, trying to break free. But he just grabbed the back of her head to make sure she didn’t struggle anymore. My body froze from pure terror. I couldn’t do anything. Alicia’s huge brown eyes were locked on mine, wishing, hoping, that I’d do anything I could to get us out of this mess. Yet I did nothing. I didn’t scream, yell or run to get help. I just watched. I could hear Jay breathing heavily behind me. If I didn’t think of a plan fast, I’d end up like Alicia. This was such a huge mess. If only I had just stayed home, we wouldn’t be in so much trouble. Suddenly, I heard Ben whisper something into Alicia’s ear. Then he looked over at Jay, who came up behind me, grabbing my arms and holding them together behind my back, like I had handcuffs on. I kicked my legs in protest, and swore at him multiple times. But he wouldn’t let go. Ben did the same to Alicia, and then proceeded to drag her into the bush. I could hear Alicia’s muffled cries for help, but I still could do nothing. Jay had me trapped. I could hear his breath come closer towards my face, as he whispered into my ear, “It’s your turn next girly. That’ll teach you to talk to strangers”. I had never been so scared in my life. Scared for Alicia, scared for what Ben was doing to her, scared for what was going to happen to me. Overcome with a sudden adrenaline rush, I thrusted my heel into Jay’s crotch as hard as I could. He immediately released my hands, and dropped to the ground in agony. Then I started running. I ran towards the bush, where Ben had taken Alicia. I could hear Jay cursing at me, but I didn’t care anymore. I had to find her.
I felt a cold hand upon my shoulder. I jumped, thinking it was Jay or Ben. Whipping my head around, I saw it was Liam. I sighed with relief, and then remembered why I was so mad at him. I shrugged his hand off my shoulder. ‘Liam, what are you doing here?’ I asked him with my eyes narrowed. ‘I’m worried about you Ellie, and your obsession with Alicia’s death. I know it was and still is difficult for you, but you can’t just run out on me or your family like that.’ He said gently, placing his hand on my shoulder again. I let him keep it there this time. ‘Did you mean what you said?’ I asked, searching for any movement in his face that would give the answer away. ‘No’ he replied, looking directly at me. His deep green eyes were full of sincerity and raw honesty. I decided to believe him, for now. ‘Okay. Let’s go home’. I said softly. He carefully took my hand and we started to walk to his apartment. ‘I’ll always keep you safe beautiful, you don’t have to worry about Alicia or those guys anymore. You are blessed Ellie, so don’t take it for granted. Live your life to the fullest. It’s what Alicia would have wanted’ he whispered, squeezing my hand a little tighter. Smiling for the first time in months, I glanced up at his worried face. I wrapped my arms around him and muffled ‘Thankyou’ into his t-shirt. Everything’s gonna be alright, I thought to myself. But over the next couple of months, it all changed.
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Natalie Delacroix.
Published on e-Stories.org on 09/26/2011.