Til Death Do Us Part
“What is this?” I say, covering my mouth. Drew finally yanks the letter out of my hand and crushes it.
“Nothing.” The quiver in his voice reveals the truth. He can’t lie to me. I don’t want him to lie to me.
“It’s not nothing. Who gave you that?” I press forward, reliant on my voice to pressure him to tell me the truth. It doesn’t work. Drew begins walking toward the car. Just as he’s about to open the passenger side door, I slam it shut. “Stop.”
“Larrise. Leave it alone. I don’t want to involve you in this. Keep me company but don’t ask questions.” He leans forward, hiding his face from me.
“How can I not? That’s not just a prank letter. Unless it is and you’re using your acting lessons to play me right now? Are you?” I push back his shoulder, and he’s grinning.
“You caught me.” He holds his hands up and sidesteps me. “Sorry for scaring you like that.” What? I stand there and watch as he takes his seat, avoiding all eye contact. Drew doesn’t do mean pranks. He’s lying. He’s quick with it though, using my suggestion as a means of escape. Smart but not smart enough. I nod and laugh. Let him think he’ll get away with it.
“That was an awful prank.” I reply, taking the driver’s seat. I punch his arm and begin the drive home. “So, why did you end class early then?”
“Just felt like it. It’s hot out. Summer, no air conditioning.” He waves his hand in front of his face to make his point. I tap my finger against the steering wheel.
“Air conditioner broke since last time I was there?”
“Yeah, awful. Repair guy won’t come ‘til next week.” Another lie.
“That’s odd, you said the building was closed next week due to construction.” It was a few days ago, Drew mentioned I didn’t have to drive him to lessons for a while because of construction. I cheered because that gave me time to work on my script instead of wasting thirty minutes on the road. I didn’t hate driving Drew, but it’s definitely taken its toll on my gas budget.
“I did. And it just coincides that when they finish construction, the repair guy will come in.” He says it like it's so obvious. I stop at a red light and notice he’s on his phone texting somebody.
“Oh, so that means Mr. Redd doesn’t have to come in either right? Next week, I mean.” Mr. Redd was the instructor, and my immediate crush when I first met him. Too bad he’s married and doesn’t take students that don’t meet his expectations.
“Liar.” I say as I press the gas. The town dissolves around us and trees begin to line my view.
“When did I lie?” He speaks up, and from the side, I can see his body twisting toward me. His defense is up, and I could tell he’s confused. I softly chuckle and grip the wheel at a sharp turn. His body flings toward the door.
“From the beginning.” It was easy to confuse Drew and it was even easier to trick him.
“What beginning? I didn’t lie when I said it was prank, Larisse.”
“Why are you bringing up the prank?” I needle him, looping my classic string around my finger to get him where I want. Drew is silent.
“I thought that” he stutters, “that you meant the prank. You said the beginning, so obviously I’m going to think you mean the prank. Why would I lie about anything else?” He blurts out and I inwardly smile.
“I’m sorry, lie about anything else? What are you trying to say here? You lied about the prank? I thought you were lying about the air conditioner.” Drew is clumsy with his words. If there is one thing, he isn’t good at, it’s that he can’t articulate what he really wants to say, and his mouth moves faster than his brain. Years of fighting with him taught me that.
“Okay!” He throws his arms up and sighs. “You got me! I lied! What’s the big deal? Sometimes you get a threatening letter in your locker, and you want to go home without thinking about it. Is that so hard to do? Can’t I just relax for a minute, Larrise? Can’t you just not pick and prod for a minute?”
I clear my throat. “Sorry.” The drive is quiet, and I turn up the radio. A station talks about the movie Everything About You, and I remember back to the scene in the theater. Charlotte finds out the truth, but she isn’t happy. There were tears running down her face. Maybe there was some substance to being left in the dark. Better to just not question things and accept the lies we’ve been told. But still, doesn’t it make a difference that it wasn’t a prank letter? Whoever sent that was disturbed.
“You said you found it in your locker. Does that mean it’s somebody in the class? Shouldn’t you tell someone at least? Go to the police maybe?”
“Larrise. Drop it. It’s really no big deal. I knew you would react this way, so I tried to hide the truth. I’m sorry.” Drew opens the door as I finish parking and I catch him as he’s walking up the steps to our shared apartment. Courtesy of our families being close and not caring that we live with one another. Rather, they hope something comes of it.
“Okay, okay. Except, you know me, I listen to a dozen murder podcasts and that letter is just plain scary. The red lettering, the way the words are repeated all across the page. It’s serial killer one oh one. I just don’t want you to get hurt.” It was true. Drew was the only best friend who could tolerate the worst of me, and I know it’s the same for him.
“Well, it’s fine. I won’t even be in class next week so not like they’ll find me anytime soon.” Drew exasperates and soon he flops onto our couch, forgoing washing his hands and taking off his jacket. I kick his stomach and roll my eyes.
“Very funny. What if we were followed?” It was a reach but knowing how some girls swarmed around Drew, it wasn’t that fantastical.
“With your driving? Let them try.”
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