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Befriending a mass murderer, one would think, would inevitably end in betrayal. But, then, in the back of my mind, I think there’s an exception to every rule. It’s not like I knew who she was at first, and she seemed so lonely and desperate for friendship that I couldn’t just abandon her.
When I saw the girl, about 10, like myself, being brutally harassed by her peers, I couldn’t turn a blind eye. “What a freak,” they taunted, “Who dresses like that?” After several, more colorful remarks, the girl was in tears, and the bullies had left. I ran up to her and awkwardly hugged her saying not to listen to them and that I thought she looked beautiful. We became each other’s only friends from then on, though the harassment doubled on us both for that reason.
Unfortunately, I’d only been in town for a short time to visit my grandparents, and soon had to return home. She came to the airport to see me off saying, “Don’t ever forget about me!” I promised her I wouldn’t. A promise that less than a month later, I had broken.
Twenty years passed. I was informed that my grandfather had been murdered, and the killer was on the loose. Many similar murders had taken place in the same area, but the slayer never left any traces of who he might be. Thus, I was reluctant to attend my grandfather’s funeral, but tickets were cheap and I had no other commitments.
On my way from the airport to my aunt’s house, where I’d be staying, a crazy-looking young woman seemed to be watching me. Being a naturally paranoid person, I walked a little faster and kept my eyes on the footpath. The woman was suddenly in from of me, eyes bright and every perfect tooth showing in her brilliant ear-to-ear grin. “SETH!” she hollered as she flung herself into a surprisingly strong hug, “I’ve missed you so much! I knew you’d come back to me! Wow, you haven’t changed a bit!”
I told her that I hadn’t the slightest clue who she was and for her to leave me alone. Her smile faded as her eyes grew dark and her lip began to tremble. “You mean you don’t remember me? B- But… you… you PROMISED!”
My first thought was that she really was crazy, but then I remembered the sad loner girl from when I was 10 whose only friend was me. “Kate…” I muttered. “Kate! Oh, my gosh! I’m so sorry, Kate!” I pulled her back into the hug.
She was slightly put off at my broken promise, but soon forgave me, and we walked to “our” tree where we had sat for hours as kids and told each other everything. She asked me what had brought me back to town, so I told her about the bewildering murder of my grandfather, who had been found stabbed to death. Her eyes grew wide and dark, not with pity, but what looked almost like guilt. “It’s okay,” I told her softly. “It’s not like you killed him.”
She turned her face away from mine, but not before I saw a single pearly tear shine on her pale cheek and drip from her chin. “You’re wrong…” she whispered. Then louder: “You’re wrong, Seth! You’re wrong! I’m so sorry! The people here… they hate me so much… it never got better from when we where little… I’m sorry, Seth… So sorry…” She explained to me, through suppressed tears, how she was dubbed criminally insane and schizophrenic, but knew what she did was wrong yet felt no remorse.
“So… the horrible murders taking place? They’re all at your hand? But--” I didn’t finish my thought before she interrupted.
“I’m sorry,” she pulled out a dagger that probably had once been beautiful before being caked with the blood of countless victims. “You know too much… I won’t go to an asylum.” Tears of fear blurred my vision as she moved closer, knife raised, and then plunged it into her own chest with a final shriek of apologies.
My tears turned to grief.