A shooting star shot across the vast expanse of night sky, playing out to us sitting on the hill.
"Make a wish," Betsy turned to me.
"Let's make one together," I said, turning to see her shadowed face.
"It only works for one person. Come on before the magic dies."
I could feel the magic twinkling in the air, dying as we spoke.
I smiled, hoping my wish to come true. "I wish I was famous."
Ten years later
The car bumped smoothly along the drive. Flawless trees lined the road, each perfectly trimmed to display exact conformity. As the drive came to its close, an iron gate came to greet us. Waiting journalists with expectant cameras, hurried to their feet, aiming to catch the so sought interview. You wonder why they try so hard, for ten lonesome years. After so long I doubted that people even cared. I recognised each one, their names etched in my head. Over time they had changed, as I had, but now there was still one who had always remained the same. Old Billy, as I called him now, even though he wasn't old. Wherever I went her followed, each day standing outside my house.
The gate opened at the touch of a control, the journalists clicking their cameras. What they hoped to capture from me I had no idea, but I bowed my head, knowing I was hidden behind the blackened windows.
"Almost home Mandy," Dad said to me.
I heard the gate close behind us, in my mind seeing the lingering people collapsing again onto the ground.
"You know I was thinking we could move again, somewhere further this time," Dad glanced at me.
"How about Antarctica, my best friend could be a penguin," I muttered coldly, disagreeing with the notion of leaving.
"Be serious, we can move out of the country."
"I like it here, I don't want to move again," I concluded. Whether I deserved it or not, I wasn't a fugitive. I wasn't going to keep running.
"Okay," the simple answer told me it was decided, we stayed.
We had only been here a few months, the latest house of our many destinations. Each time our house got more elaborate. Security upgrading as we moved. What began as a normal house turned into iron gates and alarmed windows. Each time I wondered how we were found.
Our house loomed up; it's small nature quaint in the big expanse of green space. As I was dropped at the front, my Dad drove round to park the car, stopping it where it would sit for the next while. We rarely left the house, necessities came to us.
Inside it was cool from the hot sun. The modern interior different from outside.
"Hey Tia," I greeted to my sister, sitting at the computer.
"Hey," she replied, typing furiously, staring close to the screen.
"Who you talking to?"
"Do you ever think he's bored of talking to you?"
"Course not, he does all the talking."
I sighed, continuing on my way. Ben was her friend from years ago, at our first home. The one she talked to the most, she was determined that she'd meet him again one day.
My room faced the back, out to the failing vegetable garden. The tips of carrots were beginning to spurt from the ground. They were so innocent out there, unaware of their dying future. Their fresh green leaves so young, so lively.
I clicked onto my computer, my hands flying over the keyboard. The internet came on, and I followed my daily search routine, snapping onto the search engine. My fingers hovered over the keyboard before gallantly typing in the normal words.
Countless sites appeared, each one highlighted to show I had seen it. Each one spouting new facts. Each one sharing new lies. I read each article as they came, staring at each picture of my dreary face. As I read I knew the words were deviations from the truth, I knew they spun what they were told. But still they made me feel bad. Because if you hear something for long enough, you begin to believe it.
My door creaked open and quickly I shut off the page.
"It was Ben's birthday today," Tia sulked.
"How could I forget," I muttered, remembering the countless times she had reminded me.
"You better say happy birthday sometime today."
"I'll talk to him later," I promised.
"You better," she walked off.
Although I didn't want to talk to Ben I felt that I had to. I owed Tia that much. Our countless moves, her countless goodbyes from friends. I knew she didn't take it lightly. I knew although I was her sister, and we were meant to have some timeless bound, she'd be happy if I weren't.
A tap sounded from my window. My Mum waved at me, a big smile on her face. I waved back, watching her then turn and go.
My hand reached to my draw and I pulled out a photo, taken many years ago. My family stood there, smiling so happily, so freely. Mum's face was unbound of any blemishes. Now wrinkles covered every corner, her smiles strained with stress. And me, no innocent, so uncaring, unknowing.
My heart ringed with pain I shut the photo away from sight, instead another coming to my mind. A young girl, black lacy curls gathering around her head. Brown staring eyes, surrounded by thin lashes. A smile lighting up all who wanted to see.
"Betsy," I muttered subconsciously.
And suddenly, it was all too much. Everything moment came crashing back. From when it all began to where I sat now. The tears, the screams, the stares. Every house, every friend, every photo. At once it was all there, pushing me down.
I collapsed to silent tears on the ground, curling into a warming ball. A noise outside aroused me to my situation. Fear sliding through my head. If I was found like this... I quickly got up, wiping away my tears.
Taking breaths I sat to my computer, clicking quickly at the screen. Ten glances a second checked that I was unaccompanied. I didn't think twice as I punched in numbers, chinking on the mouse.
I finished, closing the screen, sitting back from the computer. My decision made I smiled, hoping that I had done the right thing.
It was silent in the house. Stopping in the doorway of my parent's room, I looked down at their sleeping faces. Even in their dreams they couldn't have peace.
Tia looked calmer in her big bed. Long hair strewn over her pillow. On her bedside table I placed an envelope, and on that a piece of paper.
I'm sorry it said. In the envelope lay a ticket. A ticket to our old home. A ticket to Ben.
I walked the long way down our drive, my feet making no sound on the stones. The gate loudly turned its wheels to open and without a glance, I ventured from my home on foot.
I was tempted to call a taxi to pick me up from the road, but the questions asked wouldn't be worth the sparred effort. So I paced on foot. The conformed trees providing cover from the moon.
The road came to an end, forking off into left and right. I took the right, thankful to be off the questioning road.
A little further down I stopped and called a taxi. Waiting in the cold, for the helping car.
The taxi scuttled up the road to sight, stopping beside me.
"Not many people get rides from here," the driver commented as he drove along.
"I decided to go for a walk and went a bit too far," my excuse lied.
"So it's the airport then, arrivals or departures?"
"You went for a walk just before you're going somewhere?"
I wanted his questions to stop, each time I suspected him to see through my lies.
"I'm farewelling a friend, I'm not going anywhere."
"Will you need a ride back?" His customer skills kicked in.
"No thank you, I've already got a ride."
"Okay," he looked disheartened at that, so I ignored him and looked out the window.
Although I had lived round here the land was foreign to me. I had rarely left my home, the land around unknowing to me.
"This can be a creepy place at night," the driver commented.
"It can," I agreed. "It can."
The line was short to check in; I waited fidgeting in the line. My passport held in my hand, I opened it, staring at my name.
The name that had once been shared over the news. The name that might be known by the people here. No one seemed to recognise me. Pictures of my face were rare in the recent years. Blacked windows had aided me in that, seclusion to my home even more.
"Next please," the lady called.
With a deep breath I walked over and handed her my passport.
She glanced at my name, then at me, lingering over the details.
"Here you go," she handed me back my passport.
"Just go through Miss Pitcher," her voice changed as she said my name, as if she yearned to say it.
I went through, relief flooding through me. Although I knew it wouldn't happen, I expected people to come running, a camera to come flashing. Here in this outside world, I felt vulnerable.
The flight was short, my eyes resting during the trip. Planes weren't new to me, my numerous moving meaning numerous travelling.
Again the lady lingered on my name at customs, eventually sending me through. Out in the open air it was beginning to grow dark, night starting its enclose.
I found a taxi waiting outside, commanding it to my destination. It drove through the streets, its engine dying as we arrived.
"I'll just be a minute," I instructed, leaving my bag in the car.
It was eerie in the cemetery, gravestones falling up to the sky. I found it easily, the small headstone I had so longed to see.
Let only peace hold escape
The funeral had been big I had heard. With many of Betsy's friends going to bid farewell. But in everyone that went, her best friend had remained behind. I had begged and pleaded, I had cried and screamed, but Betsy's parents forbade my presence. They had talked to me, saying how they didn't think it was right for me to be there. They believed the newspaper.
"Betsy I'm sorry," I said, my voice resounding around the cemetery. "I didn't think it would happen, I hadn't known." With tears choking in my throat I stopped, slowly laying down the flowers I had bought down before her grave. Bright daffodils brightened her stone, her favourite flower.
I wanted to stay there forever, to watch the sun rise over her, but I knew that I couldn't. I had other things I needed to do.
I rose and took a last look at the stone, flowers now lying against it.
"Goodbye," I whispered, giving Betsy the funeral she never had from me.
The driver was still there when I went back; he started the engine as I came.
"Where to now?"
I made my way up the hill, my bag bumping on my back. Two stones still sat on the top, our two stones. I took mine on the left, resting my bag on the ground.
The sky was dark, the night coming to its height. It hadn't changed here, each blade of grass still the same.
I fished around in my bag, drawing out the one article I had thought to save. It was ripped and brown from age, but every word was bright.
20th March 1989 The corner read. And the headline, full across the page.
And under that, in a smaller subheading.
8-year old dead after being tortured by best friend
I didn't bother to read the article, its word etched firmly in my head. All lies, only I knew the truth, only I held my secret.
A shooting star shot across the vast expanse of night sky, playing out to us sitting on the hill.
"It's your turn?" I twisted. An empty stone greeting me.
I could feel the magic twinkling in the air, dying as I spoke.
"I wish-" But it was too late for that now. "I wish you knew I was sorry Betsy." And as the magic took its toll, I knew that out there, wherever Betsy was, she did what no one else could do. She forgave me.