And now I go to prison, unless I kill Xander.

I felt the knife against my back. Its sheath, hidden under my shirt, lay in reach so I could grab it and stab him. But he stood 10 feet away and could see me in his peripheral vision. That would give him enough time to run and call the cops.

I shivered, afraid to kill again because of the pain and nightmares, but it was the only way to make sure he kept his mouth shut. It's why I stole the knife from Duane's toolbox last night—insurance if Xander ever found the body.

We stood in silence except for water dripping off my skin and plopping against the mud, but I sensed uneasiness in the air. The smell of Mary's corpse made the feeling worse, and I could only imagine what went on in Xander's head. I was hesitant to attack since it was impossible to know how he'd react. He was bigger and could take advantage if I made a wrong move, so I waited for the moment he dropped his guard so I could kill him without fail.

"Christ." Xander stepped away from Mary.

"What did you think was in the bag?" I said.

"Is this for real?" His voice trembled. "You killed her. Why?"

"You wouldn't understand."

His hands shook. He looked at me, the corpse, and at me again. The idiot was realizing I needed to kill him before he could call the police.

He breathed. "Why'd you do it?"

I stared at his feet.

"Answer me!" he said. "Stop treating me like everyone else!"


"You act like you're the only one with a messed-up life!"

"You must've killed someone then," I said. "You must know what it's like to be blamed for something you never did."

He kept his eyes on Mary.

I stepped closer, tears stinging my eyes, feeling the knife at my back. "You don't know anything!"

"Then tell me," he said.


"The whole story."

"Why?" I asked. Was he stalling for time, waiting for a chance to run and call the police?

Xander reached into his pocket where he kept his phone. "Tell me every—"

I ran toward him, my socks slapping mud, and I thrust the knife. He dodged and grabbed my arm and twisted it. It burned with pain as the knife fell at our feet.

He swept my legs from under me. My head bounced against the ground, pain making me shout. He dropped and fought into position to choke me out. I reached for the knife, touching its leather handle, but he bashed my face.

I opened my eyes to the bright sky, head aching. This pain exhausted me and the light made my eyelids close. When the taste of blood jolted me, I saw Xander sitting beside me, holding something to his ear—his phone.

His lips moved, but there was silence. I tried to move but my body refused to respond, my eyelids drooping.

I felt sharpness against my neck. There, Xander held the knife's blade.

"You move you die." The call had already been made because now he held a cigarette in his left hand and the knife in his right. But his hands shook. "When they get here, I'll tell the cops it was self-defense, and it won't be a lie since you tried to kill me."

I laughed since what could I do?

"You're going to prison," he said. "But I'll give you a chance to run if you tell me everything."

I kept laughing.

He pressed the blade against my neck and broke skin. There, pain flared and what felt like blood spread.

"You have time," he said. "Tell me, and maybe you can get away."

"Where would I go?" I giggled.

Smoke rolled out his mouth as he watched me, and thankfully it masked the smell of Mary's corpse.

I doubted he would kill me, but if I moved, he might panic and cut deeper into my neck. If I told him why I killed Mary, would he really let me run? Would I have time to escape the police?

"Why do you want to know?" I asked. "You'll hear it on the news."

"I want to hear it from you." He pressed the knife harder and warm blood trailed and tapped the ground. "Hurry up."

Maybe telling someone would make the nightmare and pain go away. Maybe I could close my eyes and sleep for the first time in weeks. I'd kept the memory of Mary's murder in the back of my head, and it would crawl out whenever I slept, waking me in the middle of the night to remind me what I'd done. Would this continue in prison? In hell? I shivered at the thought of seeing the nightmare again and again—my hands pull the cord and it tightens around Mary's throat as she slaps, scratches, and punches me. Her eyes grow wide in shock and fear…

"Fine," I said.

He pulled the knife away. I sat up and looked at the lake. The torn bag covered Mary's body—Xander had done that. Good, I wanted it out of sight.

He sat 10 feet away, holding the knife in case I ran. Even if I escaped him, the police would catch me. I took a deep breath and gathered courage. I looked him in the eye as he smoked his cigarette, and I told him how I killed Mary.