Chapter Forty

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When The Party's Over

It's funny how memories work.

There are things you can't quite remember, like what you were wearing the first day of senior year, and things you will never forget. For me, three things that fall into the latter category.

First, there's the colour of Daisy's eyes. Spring green, like trimmed grass after rain. How, in the right sunlight, they looked like stained glass, filled with every colour you could possibly imagine.

Secondly, there is Mara – her petite round face, olive skin and perfectly carved cheekbones. How her eyelashes flickered with the wind in death, fingertips laced in blue.

Last, there is Ellie; fiery hair peeking out from her wig as she laid unmoving on the ground.

I don't know why bad things happen to good people. All I know is, at some point, you have to decide what comes next. Now that your life has changed and you are a survivor in the apocalypse, what will you do?

The way I see it, there comes a point where you have to put down the cloak and dagger. You have to forge your own happy ending, because God knows nobody else is going to do it for you. But there are some instances where, despite all your efforts, fate will win anyway.

I tried to fight fate for a while, to find out what happened to Daisy and untangle the lies Eden threaded in her time here, but I was too late.

And I was wrong. So, so wrong.

Could I have stopped it, if I'd known? If I weren't so wrapped up in Eden, would I have realised that the real killer was staring right at me this whole time? If I'd opened my eyes, saw what was in front of me, I might have been able to save Ellie. But now? It's too late.

Red and blue lights swirl through the room like sirens silently wailing. Sitting in the corner lounge seat, arms wrapped over my legs, I stare out the window at where it happened.

I don't know how long I've been here, sitting and staring, but someone's placed a blanket over me and I smell soup being boiled in the kitchen. Over the mountains' peak, a haze of orange light shines against the darkness of the ink-blue sky, so morning must be coming.

Throughout my time here, shadows flit across the corner field of my vision, but I pay them no mind. Most of them are indistinct, dark shapes of every kind, but every so often a face appears. Sometimes, it's one I think I recognise, eyes wide and mouth moving. But I don't hear any words – no matter how hard I try, their sentences are alien to me.

I bite my lip. If I bend over just enough, I can see the gazebo where Ellie lies hidden. Strangers dressed in all types of uniforms walk in and out, and I want to scream at them for invading her privacy like that.

They don't know her. They don't know how laughter bursts through her lips, how she gets a glimmer in her eyes whenever she finds something funny. They don't know that her favourite movie is Moana or that she can't stand fishy food. And yet there they are, walking in and out as if she's no longer a person, but a body. A victim. Something to analyse.

I grit my teeth, eyes burning until the trees outside become blurry with tears. I try to blink them away, but every time I do darkness covers me, and I see Riley's pale face and hear her words – this isn't what it looks like. God, I'm going to be sick again.

I thought I knew what to do when struck by loss – when Daisy died, I thought I figured out the manual. But, no. Apparently, there isn't a manual for losing someone you loved. Who knew, right?

'Haley?'

I look up to find Wesley.

Having made no appearance at Eden's party, he looks relatively normal – that's if you don't count the dark circles beneath his eyes or how his brows are creased with more concern than I thought possible.

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