This story is by Lauren King and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
I’m in the room now. Katie’s room now. This is where it all began and ended. The beginning of an end in a way. Her room seems darker now. Sadder than before. The bed used to have a mattress with warm, mint coloured sheets on it. But now, all I see is the black, bed frame. The closet, once full with vibrant, beautiful clothes, now stands empty before my eyes. The fireplace that once held a roaring blaze now sits dead and silent. The succulents that once lined the mantelpiece now start to feel the wrath of dehydration. Even the photo frames on the desk by the window are collecting a layer of dust. A lot of them are family photos. Katie with her mum. Katie with her sister. Katie with her grandparents. There’s a photo with me in it there.
Katie and I at school during music. We both pulled a face and she took a photo. It had been such a fun day. So much laughing and fun.
God I miss her. She was so beautiful. She had such pretty, dark brown, wavy hair always pulled back in a ponytail. Her blue eyes would radiate happiness into the nearest being and contaminate it with joy. You couldn’t help but smile near her. I know I couldn’t. She was such a happy person, even though sad things had happened not long before. Katie’s mum had found out that her husband had been seeing another woman for a while and they were now in the process of a divorce. It was so hard for Katie. She had never been particularly close to her father but still. It hit her like a punch to the gut. She had been winded, but she still managed to maintain a brave face. A little bit of the twinkle in her eye disappeared after that but there was enough there to continue its contamination of joy.
I continue to look over the photos, carefully dusting them with a cloth that Katie’s mum brought up for me. There is another frame with a special photo in it. It was of Katie’s sixteenth birthday party. She had it at the beach near the treehouse my father built for us when we were younger. We were both climbing the ladder up to the house so that we could sleep there overnight, when dad came and took a photo. I didn’t know she had that photo. We had so much fun that night. We told stories and made shadow puppets with our hands and our flashlights. We stared at the sky, admiring the moon. Katie spoke about it so melodically. She could have been a poet. When it was time to sleep we didn’t. We stayed up, talking for hours. Neither of us knew the time, nor did we care. At that moment , everything was perfect. She told me all about her boyfriend Stephan. How he was so lovely and how much they loved each other.
“Nothing can go wrong,” she said.
A few days later, I received a call. It was from Katie, and she sounded distressed.
“Hey Katie, what’s wrong?” I asked.
“He was seeing another girl. I…I saw them. He…he was with her for a whole day and when I called him asking what he was doing, he said…he said…” Her voice broke here. All I could hear was her crying. Katie never cried.
“He said what Katie?”
“He…he said he doesn’t love me anymore. That…it was over. Finished. He loved some other girl now. After that he hung up.”
I didn’t know what to say. What could I say. I tried to comfort her but I think I made it worse.
It’s strange to think that at that moment, Katie was lying on the bed that is in front of me now. This room reflects that moment. These walls have seen the beginning of joy and the end of happiness. What haven’t they seen?
Everything went downhill from there. On the next day of school, Katie wasn’t there. She wasn’t there the day after that either. I messaged her asking “are you ok Katie?” And “Katie, where have you been?” But she only answered with “Yeah, I’m fine thanks Elise.” Katie was always one to put on a brave face in the darkest of times. Most of the time I believed her. But not this time. She didn’t sound right. That afternoon, I walked over to Katie’s place. When I arrived, I was embraced in a tight hug by Katie’s mother.
“Thank God it’s you Elsie,” she said.
“Is Katie okay ma’am?” I asked.
“She’s been in her room since the breakup. She’s only come out to eat, shower and use the bathroom.”
“I’ll go see her.”
When I walked up the stairs to Katie’s room, I could hear sobbing and ripping sounds. I got to the platform and opened the door to Katie’s room. As I peered around the room, I could feel the sadness. Photos were littered around the room. Katie was sitting on her bed, with two halves of a photo in both hands, and tear stains streaked her cheeks. She just looked at me. We didn’t say anything. I knew I didn’t have to. Instead,I picked up all the whole photographs and gave them to her to rip. While she tore up the photos, I picked up the already ripped ones and used them to create a fire and warm up the freezing room.
I kneel down to the fireplace. I can still see fragments of the photos I tried to burn. There’s a photo of our class. Our year ten class. Katie had her arm around one of our friends. Beatrice. The blonde, beauty of the year. Katie and Beatrice had been best friends, but it all ended a few weeks after this photo was taken. When Katie came back to school, a week after the breakup, we saw something. We were in the library together when she looked to the corner of the room and saw Stephan. But Stephan wasn’t alone. He was with Beatrice. Normally we wouldn’t think anything of it. So what if they were sitting together. They were friends. I tried to calm Katie but she wouldn’t have it.
She stormed over, slapped Stephan hard across the cheek and ran off. That was the last time I saw her.
I sit on the bed frame. Memories rushing before my eyes. I look down at the carpet and out of the corner of my eye I see a mark. My eyes begin to sting, and tears well in my eyes. I thought they cleaned it all up. All the blood. A tear rolls down my cheek, as one final memory enters my mind.
It was the day after the slapping of Stephan. I woke up at seven and went to have a shower. When I came out and checked my phone, my state of relax changed to state of confusion and panic. There was a message from Katie and that message said:
I’m sorry for what I’m about to do, but I find I cannot go through this anymore. The betrayal of my family and friends has hit me hard. I will miss you dear friend.
I panicked. I didn’t know what to do. I ran down the stairs, out the door and to Katie’s house. I pulled myself together before the door opened and I saw Katie’s mother. She was so calm, but surprised to see me.
“Hello Elsie, what are you doing here?”
“I came to see Katie. She sent me a message.”
“It’s very early but come in. You seem out of breath my dear. Are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine ma’am. Thank you.”
I entered the house and bolted up the stairs. I knocked on the door.
“Katie, it’s me, Elsie. Please open the door.” No answer. I knocked again.
“Katie please.” No answer again. I began to panic, so I slammed open the door.
I will never forget what I saw that day. I screamed. Katie’s mother ran up and screamed too. She collapsed on the floor beside me, crying. I was crying too. Police came in moments later and tried to move me from the scene, but I wouldn’t leave Katie’s side.
She looked so pale. So lifeless, lying on the bed. I knew she was dead. I saw the knife. It was covered in blood. So were her arms. So was everything.
This is where it all began and ended. The beginning of an end in a way. Katie didn’t deserve to die like this. She deserved to graduate high school, fall in love and find joy like me. Like everyone. I should have stayed with her after she slapped Stephan. If I did, this might not have happened. I hope you’re at peace now my darling. God knows you deserve it. I’ll see you soon, in heaven. Forever.