I just can’t get over it. I didn’t even know her that well, but I can’t believe it. She’s really gone. I heard the rumours, but didn’t believe it. Just couldn’t. Not until I saw her empty chair. She’s never missed a lecture. The room is quieter than normal, even though the lecture hasn’t started.
“She’s really gone?” Louis says besides me. “What a waste.”
“I know,” someone else adds. “I just can’t believe someone would do that to her. She was so polite and nice. Didn’t deserve this.”
I look around slowly, noting a couple of people who sit near her are hiding tears. Beth didn’t turn up today. Not that anyone could hold it against her. She had been best friends with Lydia since school. Longer than most of us have been aware of each others existence. I feel like today should have been cancelled. Not because I want a day off, or because I was even friends with, but because this room is unbearable. None of us wanted to accept that one of us could just die like that. Not like that. No one deserves that.
Edward walks in and starts setting up at the front of the room. Everyone is silent. None of the normal jokes are thrown around, even when Edward struggles to get the presentation on the board as easily as any of us could. Just silence.
“Well, before we start today. I just want to say one thing. I know we are all struggling to believe what happened last Friday. And we will all miss Lydia. Other people have decided today should go ahead as normal, so here we are. I understand that it’s going to be awkward for a couple of weeks, but we just have to pull through. And I’ve been asked to tell you not to walk through the park when it’s dark. At least until the police have caught this maniac. And it would be best if you could all go around in groups. Just because how close this is to us.”
The rest of the lecture is just as awkward as that opening speech. We all sit there and listen, no one really speaks. No jokes are made. It’s all just awkward and uncomfortable. Eventually it comes to an end and something we’ve all been dreading arrives. Getting home. I pair up with Louis since he lives just down the street from me.
“Thanks for walking with me,” I say as we reach the half way point in the park.
Both of us were hesitant to walk through this bit, but at least this bit is well lit. If we look out to the left we can see the police line. The flowers. We’ve both seen it, but neither of us mention it, or look long enough for the other to notice.
“It’s not a problem. We probably shouldn’t go alone. It’s scary enough out here, and it’s only the afternoon.”
“I know. It feel so much later than four. So quiet.”
“Hmm, just like the lecture.”
“Was that supposed to be a joke?”
“Are you saying you can’t tell?”
You’re an idiot.”
“Probably, but today’s been sad enough, awkward enough. Feel like we’ve had enough of that so far.”
“I know what you mean.”
We both walk in silence for a little while. It’s been a while since we both actually spoke. But that’s just life. At the start of the year we both spoke a lot, just because of how close we lived to each other. And then we found new crowds, ones we actually fit into. And then slowly small talks turn into passing hellos. Slowly the houses on the right meet up with the path and then it’s just the final stretch until the road. A sigh of relief. We pass a couple of trees and then a gust of wind blows through us, shaking the world around us. I turn around, thinking I’ve heard something. At first he’s just standing there, leaning against a tree. A clown. Someone a little shorter than me, in an obvious cheap Halloween costume. Bright colours beaming towards us. A wide smile, with a little bit of fake blood smeared around it. Hollow eyes. Is this what Lydia saw? Is this the person who killed her. I can’t believe he’s here again. This can’t be happening. I don’t know what I’m doing. Am I screaming, am I running. Or am I just standing still. The whole world spins. My feet are moving. The road is closer. Louis is next to me. The Clown follows. Knife in hand. What am I going to do. The road. Clown still there. I can’t run anymore. Don’t’ know where to go. I stop. Turn. Just push him into the road.
He flies backwards, and bounces of a car. Time slows as he glides to the ground, smacking his head of the pavement. I cover my mouth in shock. Everyone around me stops as well. Louis is holding me. Tears are running down my face. I can’t believe it. He’s dead. He’s dead.