raced through her mind. Just… don’t do
anything. There was no way that she would be able to get the car out
without waking up her mother, so she ran downstairs to the garage. She found the
old bicycle that her mother had gotten for her on her 11th birthday,
and sped the 5 kilometres to Étienne’s house. By the time she got there, it had
been raining; her hair and her clothes were glued to her skin. The light was
still on in Matt’s bedroom, which was on the first flooe. Josie knocked on the
window, and he opened it so that she could crawl inside. On his desk was a
bottle of Tylenol and another one, open, of Jim Beam.
faced him. Did you –
wrapped his arms around her. He smelled of liquor. You told me not to. Id do anything for you. Then he pulled back
from her. Would you do anything for me?
Anything, she vowed.
gathered her into his arms. Tell me you
didn’t mean it.
a cage coming down around her; too late she realized that Matt had her trapped
by the heart. And like any unwitting animal that was well and truly caught,
Josie could escape only by leaving a piece of herself behind.
Im so sorry, Josie had said at least a thousand times that
night, because it was all her fault.
dressed for her son. Although it was nearly eighty-five degrees outside, she
was wearing a sweater she had dug out of a box in the attic, a pink angora one
that Peter had liked to stroke like a kitten when he was tiny. Around her wrist
was a bracelet Peter had made her in fourth grade by rolling up tiny nibs of
magazines into splashy colored beads. She had on a gray oatterned skirt that
Peter had laughed at once, saying it looked like a computer’s motherboard, and
wasn’t’ that sort of fitting. And her hair was braided neatly, because she
remembered how the tail had brushed Peter’s face the last time she’d kissed him
McAfee approached her, holding a box of tissues, as Lacy sat in the witness box
crying silently. He turned his back so that the jury could not see him
speaking. “You okay?” he whispered. Lacy nodded, faced the jury, and offered up
a smile like a sacrifice.
state your name for the record?” Jordan asked.
Goldenrod Lane, Sterline, New Hampshire.”
lives with you?”
tell us,” Jordan McAfee asked, “when you first became aware that something had
happened at on march sixth?”
“I was on
call overnight at the hospital. Im a midwife. After I had finished delivering a
baby that morning. I went out to the nurses station, and they were all
gathering around a radio. There had been an explosion at the high school.”
you do when you heard?”
someone to cover for me, and I drove to the school. I needed to make sure that
Peter was all right.”
Houghton, tell us about your relationship with”
smiled. “Hes my baby, and we had lots in common.”
was Peter when your husband died?”
at the end of his sophomore year.”
must have been devastating for the family,” Jordan said.
you do to help peter deal with the grief?”
glanced down at her lap. “I wasn’t in any shape to help Peter. I had a very
hard time helping myself.”
Houghton, did Peter ever tell you that he wanted to hurt people?”
throat tightened, “No.”
there anything in Peter’s personality that led you to believe he was capable of
an act like this?”
look into your baby’s eyes,” Lacy said softly, “you see everything you hope
they can be… not everything you wish they wont become.”
every find any notes or plans to indicate that Peter planned this event?”
coursed down her cheek. “no.”
softened his voice. “Did you look Ms. Houghton?”
confessed. “I thought I was helping him. After his father died, all I wanted to
do was keep peter close. I didn’t want to invade in his privacy; I didn’t want
to fight with hi,; I didn’t want anyone else to ever hurt him. I just wanted
him to be a child forever.” She glanced up, crying harder now. “But you cant do
that, if youre a parent. Because part of your job is letting them grow up.”
aclatter in the gallery as a man in the back stood up, nearly up-ending a
television camera. Lacy had never seen him vefore. He had thinning black hair
and a mustache; his eyes were on fire. “Guess what,” he spat out. “My daughter
Maddie is never going to grow up. You goddamned bitch. If you’d done your job better, I could still be doing my job.”
began to smack his gavel. “Sir”, he said. “Sir, I have to ask you to – ”
son’s a monster. Hes a fucking monster,” the man yelled, as two baliffs reached
his seat and grabbed him by the upper arms, dragging him out of the
outside the courtroom, holding tight to Josies hand. “This is going to be over
before you know it”.
irony here,Alex knew, was that months ago when shed fought toso hard to be the
judge on this case, it was because she felt more at ease offering legal comfort
to her daughter than emotional comfort. Well, here she was, and Josie was about
to testify in the arena Alex knew better than anyone else, and she still didn’t
have any grand judicial advice that could help her. It would be scary. It would be
painful. And all Alex could do was watch her suffer.
came out to them. “Judge,” he said. “If your daughters ready?”
squeezed Josie’s hand. “Just tell them what you know”, she said, and she stood
up to take a seat in the courtroom.
called after her, and Alex turned. “What id what you know, isn’t what people
want to hear?”
tried to smile. “Tell the truth,” she said. “You can’t lose.”
McAfee walked to Josie, who looked small and pale. Her hair had been gathered
into a neat ponytail, and her hands were folded in her lap. She was studiously
avoiding anyone’s gaze by focusing on the grain of the wood on the rail of the
state your name?”
you live, Josie?”
seventeen”, she said.
took a step closer, so that only she would be able to hear him.
murmured. “Piece of cake.” He winked at her, and he thought she might even have
smiled back the tiniest bit.
were you on the motning of March 6, 2007?”
“I was at
“What class did you have first period?”
hall,” Josie said softly.
did you spend it?”
boyfriend,” she said. “Matt Royston.” She looked sideways, blinking too fast.
looked into her lap. “There was a lot of noise. And people started running.
People were screaming about guns, about someone with a gun. A friend of ours,
Drew Girard, told us it was Peter.”
Jordan said, “what happened next?”
ONCE UPON A time there was a princess who had
fallen in love with her prince charming. She loved her prince. And she hated
him. She hated herself for loving him but, without her lover, she was a simple
maiden. So she stayed with prince charming. It was a beautiful love, a sweet,
sweet love, until something happened.
Something that could have been avoided,
Something that should have been avoided,
And yet something that could, eventually, be
Prince charming died in a terrible accident.
probably isn’t the right term.
NAME is Camille Lafontaine.
I used to
live in Scotstown, Québec, with my mom.
foolish, deluded crime
true that I fell in love with someone and that he died, along with my two best
friends in the world.
been the main thing to know about me,
thing to me for a very long time,
I did not know it myself.
must be more to know.
will be more.
I, like a
twist of meaning