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Three

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I had walked up the stairs to Colton's front door a million times before but never had I ever felt such a sickening tightening in my gut like I did at that moment. Before I could curl my fingers around the old-fashioned brass knocker, I swayed and found myself leaning against one of the towering pillars on the porch. A mixture of fast food and nerves was the perfect combination to make someone feel uneasy.

My forehead rested against the cool exterior of the pillar and between blotchy patches of black ink that splashed my vision, I could see areas where the white paint was chipping. Running my fingers through my damp hair, I took a few deep breaths. The letter had given me a distraction from what was really happening. It was almost like an escape from reality.

Almost.

The confession allowed me to view Colton's passing from a completely different perspective, as if I were an outsider looking in. But standing in front of his house was too much of a reality punch.

It took me a good couple of minutes to gather myself before I could stand straight, but once I was vertical, I clutched the brass handle and knocked. The deep sound echoed through my ears and remained there like the irritating buzz of a mosquito.

It was Mrs. Crest who answered the door. She was wearing an apron with her shirt sleeves rolled up to her elbows. At first, she frowned at me, struggling to identify who I was. She looked tired as she examined me, her faded blue eyes squinting to remember my features. Eventually, Mrs. Crest recognised me and she smiled, almost relieved.

"Elliot," she said, "it's so good to see you."

"Hey," was all I could manage to choke out.

Mrs. Crest stepped to the side and motioned for me to enter. With tentative steps, I slowly shuffled into the spacious foyer of the house. Then she closed the door and returned to the kitchen. Standing behind the counter, she started slicing vegetables, the sharp blade of the knife piercing through a carrot with impeccable ease.

I swallowed. "Mrs. Crest, I came here to apologise for last week. It was a selfish move, just walking out during the service. I wasn't in the right head space, but I know that isn't an excuse."

Mrs. Crest placed the knife down and wiped her hands on her apron, before coming around and wrapping her arms around me. At first, I tensed and stopped breathing. Something about the gesture made me want to flinch. I supposed it was my natural instincts towards motherly affection, but after a few awkward breaths of silence, I returned the hug.

"Sorry," she said.

Mrs. Crest sniffled as she pulled away, wiping her nose on her sleeve. She gave me a shaky smile and returned to the chopping board, but she didn't pick up the knife. She just stared at the vegetables scattered across the table.

"Do you know what happened to him?" she whispered. At first I thought she was talking to herself, repeating a rhetorical question. But when she looked up at me with watery and pleading eyes, I knew it was directed at me.

"No," I answered. "But I'm trying to figure it out."

Mrs. Crest laughed half-heartedly. "Colton always loved figuring out mysteries. He'd watch those black-and-white crime series and always piece together the story before the main character did."

I forced a small smile, worried that if I contributed to the conversation it would grow into something ugly. Talking about Colton too much ignited a spark of anger, a raging flame of frustration towards everyone. Directed at Colton for not telling me anything. Aimed at his parents for not taking better care of him. Targeted at me for not realising, for not looking out for him.

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by Olivia Harvard
@colourlessness
WATTPAD ORIGINAL EDITION Seven letters, seven confessions, seven clue...
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