Creative Writing

They Know What I Did

By Gianna Liantonio

The sequel to “They Don’t Remember What I Did”

           Photo Credit: Unsplash

We walk through the forest, not seeing anything but the trees and some patches of sky. The sun shining through branches is our only way of knowing what time of day it is. Once it’s night, we won’t know and be more lost than ever. Lily still has the dried blood on her hands and is still shaking from the looks of it. I don’t blame her. Our goal is to at least find a stream somewhere nearby so she can attempt to wash some of it off. Once we make it back to civilization and people see her hands, that won’t be treated lightly.

            “It feels like we’ve been walking for ages,” Naomi says with wariness in her voice.

It does feel like we have, even though we only started walking five minutes ago. However, it does feel like we have the repetition of trees with no other possible landmarks to see where we could be. Not even the sound of a car driving can be heard. It’s as if we are in total isolation.

            “We just started walking, Naomi,” I reply.

            “I know, it just feels like we haven’t moved at all. I could have sworn I’ve seen that tree already,” she says and I try to stifle my giggle.

            “We are in a forest, all the trees are bound to look the same,” I say and look around, my eyes landing on Lily, worried at her silence. She hasn’t spoken one word once we started walking—clearly still traumatized at what she “might have done.” Of course, she hasn’t done anything. Even if I didn’t remember what truly happened, I would never even think of Lily doing anything remotely violent. Even in a desperate situation, she’d never hurt anyone. I contemplate whether I should confess now while it’s just the three of us. Once we find the nearest town, they would be more likely to abandon me. Out here, we’re all we got and call me selfish, but I need to use that to my advantage. Maybe out here, they’ll hear me out. What I did was rash and once they hear it, they’ll definitely lose their trust in me. However, I know in time they’ll forgive me.

            “No, I know. It just feels like we really haven’t moved. I don’t see anything different,” Naomi says looking around. She then points to a spot and says, “That tree has a crooked trunk. We passed that at least three times already.”  I look around, trying to see what she means. It is likely there just isn’t much to see besides trees from where we are. However, what is the probability that there is more than one tree with a crooked trunk? That is odd.

            “Let’s just keep walking. We have to be close to a town by now,” I say and we continue walking. I see Lily fidgeting with her hands. Not being able to wash off the blood is definitely hard for her to look at. I sigh and reach to rub my shoulder which started aching. I keep my eyes out for a lake or river, but all I see are trees. Come on, I think. We just need some water.

            “Over there!” I hear Naomi shout. I look where she is pointing and there’s a stream. I smile and run over, Naomi and Lily following behind me.

            “Finally,” Lily says, the first words I hear out of her mouth in a while.

She puts her hands in the water and starts scrubbing away the blood. She just scrubs, staying silent and focused. Her eyes stay unmoving with a haunted look in them. I see Naomi crouching down and cups some water in her hands, bringing it slowly to her mouth to drink. My throat suddenly feels dry, seeing that I need water too. I crouch down and mimic Naomi, sipping water from my hand slowly and carefully. Before I could stop it, a thought barged its way to the front of my mind like a battering ram.

            Just tell them the truth.

I can’t, I tell myself. They won’t look at me the same anymore. Their eyes would turn from love to hate and betrayal. I can’t bear to see that.

            Tell them. They might hear you out. You’re in the middle of a forest with no way out. They might listen to you.

Or they would leave, I tell my subconscious. I know I’m basically having an argument with myself. I can’t just tell the voice in my head to help me. It’s got to be me who does something.

            “Um…Guys?” I say, bringing their attention to me. Their eyes filled with questions yet soft with love and friendship. Suddenly, my heart starts beating fast and my clothes feel constricting against my body. I fidget with my hands as I try to put the words together. They continue to look at me confused.

            “What is it?” Naomi asks, standing up and drying her hands on her shirt.

Lily looks at me as well, but not talking. Does she somehow remember? Or is she still traumatized by today’s events? Hoping it’s the latter, I clear my throat, trying to push through the invisible barrier between my mouth and voice.

Just tell them.

            “I know what happened,” I say, taking a deep breath and studying their reactions.

Their eyes go wide and they both immediately say in unison, “What?!”

I nod and bite my lip, trying to say my next words carefully.

            “I remembered as soon as we woke up. It took a few seconds, but…I remember.”

They continue to stare at me, but with new expressions on their faces. It’s not betrayal–at least not yet. It’s hurt. They’re hurt. I’ve gone this long without saying anything. Maybe this is the answer to leaving this labyrinth. I tell the truth and it sets us free or however that saying goes.

            “What happened then? Why do you only remember?” Lily asks.

Naomi looks at me with the same question in her eyes and I know I have got to say it now. I can’t just shrug it off for later. They deserve to know.

            “I don’t know why only I remember, but I just do,” I say, knowing I can’t keep beating around the bush. I can sense their impatience and need for answers.

            “We were at a party. It was at that guy Josh’s house that we got to school with. A fight broke out and I said we should get out before the cops come.” I take a breath studying their expressions as I’m telling the story. They don’t speak, urging me to continue.

            “You agreed and we walked out of the house when one of the guys who was there followed us out. He started harassing us. I could tell he was drunk and wasn’t aware of anything. He started trying to touch us and fight us. I pushed him away and urged you guys to follow me. We started running.”

Suddenly, some recognition started to show in Naomi’s eyes. This must be jogging her memory. I push myself to continue, grasping at any confidence I could get to finish the story.

            “We start running—sprinting basically. We made it down the street and we assumed he wouldn’t have run that far, especially in his state. So, we stopped to take a breath and before we could react, he was right there. I didn’t think, so I just grabbed whatever I could find on the floor. It was a broken bottle and I…”

Suddenly, the whole scene plays in my mind like a movie and I watch myself. The bottom was sharp with jagged points. I didn’t think, I just started hitting him with it. All I knew was that I had to protect us. I assumed I would just knock him out, call the police and explain the whole story. They’d surely believe us, right? However, we never called the police, because I hit too hard. Then, there was blood.

So much blood.

He was unconscious. Lily screamed and knelt down, trying to see if she could save him; trying to stop the bleeding somehow. I knew she didn’t care about how badly he was hurt. However she knew if he died, there was just his body and our story, and we knew it wouldn’t look good.

All of sudden, Lily just started shaking, standing up from her crouched down position and looked at her hands. They’re covered in blood and I just stare at the bottle in my hand and the guy on the ground. This is all my fault. If I just screamed or called for help. If I called the police, this wouldn’t have happened.

Then, everything went black and we woke up in the forest.

After I finish recounting the story, I can’t bear to look them in the eyes. I know now they won’t want to stay with me. They’ll leave and I’ll be alone.

I just look at anything else. The trees, the river, the grass.

All of a sudden, I heard footsteps walk closer to me and a hand grasped mine. I look up and it’s Naomi and I can see the memories returned to her as well.

“I’m sorry,” I said hoarsely. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to. I just knew he was going to hurt us and I…” I couldn’t finish my sentence because Naomi pulled me into a hug. I heard footsteps that I know are Lily’s because then another pair of arms encircle around me and we’re in a group hug.

“You saved us. We don’t like what you did. But, we know you didn’t mean to,” Naomi says softly and I let go of the breath I didn’t realize I was holding. I was so sure they’d hate me, be disgusted, be horrified at what I did. I thought they’d abandon me right here and there. I feel Lily nod in agreement.

            “We forgive you Cassie,” Lily says and I smile softly, letting the warmth of their hug and love envelop me. After a few minutes, we lift up and look around. We’re still in the same spot, but with this secret no longer burdening me, I feel free.

            “Come on, let’s get out of here,” Naomi says and I nod.

We continue walking and all of a sudden we see a path and we hear cars on a road.

We made it out. I guess that saying does have some truth in it.

The truth can indeed set us free.

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