Survivor's Guilt - Page 3

I immediately went on the defensive. “Their words, not mine!” I stammered out almost before I knew what I was doing. “They used to laugh about it all the time!”

She nodded, the frown faded, and I felt a ridiculous sense of relief. I think I was starting to crush on her a little; nothing serious, but enough that I wanted to see her smile again.

“Go on,” she told me. She came close to whispering it, but it still sounded like an order, and I almost tripped over my tongue trying to answer fast enough. What the hell was wrong with me? She wasn't that cute! Focus, girl, focus!

“And then there was me,” I definitely whispered. “The 'other one,' the only other kid that lived on the same street, the one that never really fit in with the rest of them.”

“And yet they clearly included you in their group.”

I felt my feet shuffling as I looked down at the floor. “Well . . . yeah,” I admitted. “I think Johnny just liked having me around so he'd have somebody he could pick on, but Jenny seemed to really like me, I guess, and Mark . . . I just don't know.” I looked back up at her. “Mark had it all, you know? Big, buff, sweet like his sister . . . not much of a talker, but Jenny kept telling me that's because he was shy . . . shy around me, I mean.” I snorted. “Like that could be true!”

“I am in no position to judge her veracity,” she said with the hint of a tone in her voice that I used to hear from teachers telling me I was too smart to have failed like I did. “So let us try a different approach.”

Here it comes, I thought.

“I know others have put the question to you, but I would like to hear from you directly regarding the day in question.”

She must have really studied my file if she was going that much out of her way to avoid asking me any questions. The first white coat had no idea what he was getting into, and his questions sent me into hours of hysterics. Once I calmed down, I almost felt sorry for him.

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