If you want to start at the beginning pop over to this page and check out all the other episodes of the fabulous fiction relay…
I started the fiction relay writing from Ellie’s perspective so will now return to Ellie to complete the circle.
You can find the previous part here…
Content Warning ~ #Murder #violence
Letting go of Susie
Where else would I go? Now it’s all over. Now I need to make peace with myself regarding all that’s happened, the losses and the pain.
It hasn’t changed much. The wood itself has encroached somewhat on the field so the spot Susie and I played on that last fateful day has gone. Seems right somehow, as if the day Susie died has been swallowed up by the life of the trees.
I can still visualise her putting on makeup that last time I saw her alive, and me questioning her,
“C’mon Susie, who you meeting?”
I remember her face as I gave in and ran off home. I will never forget the way she smiled. Looking radiant. I don’t think I have ever loved someone so much. Well, not until Steve.
It’s no wonder I fell for him so hard. Now we know he was Susie’s brother. In hindsight I can recall a resemblance. Their mouths curved at the comers in the same manner.
I’m crying. Tears silently streaming down my cheeks. For what I have done. For what we have all done. So much loss. So many lives. And it all stems back to that one day when my best friend was murdered some fifty metres from where I now lay my coat and sit cross legged in the grass, thinking back over the last month of my life.
When Dave and I arrived at the flat, where I’d last seen Yarnold, there was no sign of his body. I suppose it was a blessing he wasn’t dead after all. We left and walked straight into the hands of the police. They’d followed us. My heart sank. Could things get much worse? Bundled into the car and told we had to help with their enquiries, when suddenly the desk sergeant from the station radioed through. Walker needed to get straight over to Ken’s flat. Without a word said the siren was blasting and we were hurtling along the main roads to the outskirts of town.
We arrived at Ken’s place just after the ambulance and Carla -of all people- was being stretchered out of the building. What the hell had happened? Without thinking I jumped from car and ran to her side. She was in a bad way but held out a hand to me. Her fist opened and discreetly she pressed a piece of paper into my palm, eyes wide, nodding. I didn’t understand the significance but shoved it into my pocket and held on to her arm. It was obvious she didn’t want me to leave. The police were escorting her to hospital and agreed I could go in the ambulance. Dave went back to his hotel with an invitation to present himself back at the station the following morning.
Apparently Susie’s mum, Sonia, had gone crazy and stabbed Carla with a pair of scissors! They were searching the area for her now.
As I sat by Carla’s hospital bed I had no idea why Sonia had attacked her.
When the nurse left us alone Carla started sobbing. Saying over and over she was going to make things right. Make it up to me. I mustn’t worry. It was all going to be okay.
She wasn’t making much sense, but I managed to glean that her mutterings had something to do with me being implicated in Steve’s murder. I’d been staying with her when I called Yarnold and planned for Steve’s demise. I may not have pulled the trigger but I did set the wheels in motion. I was guilty alright, as the police would soon discover. It has to be said at the time Carla encouraged me to make the arrangements. Ever since I saw the old photograph my mind had been a whirl, thinking Steve had killed Susie.
When Carla’s family arrived the police arranged for a car to take me home and said they would return the following morning. As I left Carla mouthed “I love you Ellie.”
Walker was allowed to question her only briefly before her parents rushed to the bedside.
Next morning a squad car picked me up. Dave was already at the station. We sat silently together waiting to be seen. My life seemed to have taken on the script of a soap opera. Who would have thought all this would happen to timid little Ellie? I had no idea what to say to the police. My mind was actually a blank page waiting for someone to write the next part of the story…
So it was a complete surprise when Walker asked to see both me and Dave together. The detective didn’t say too much at this stage, but it appeared Ken was in fact a typical serial killer. He had kept extensive notes about the killings and those involved. Walker would now be able to close two or three missing persons cases. Young girls from across the county who had never been found. Ken had listed the shallow graves in his notepad.
Walker had plenty more to say – the police now had all the evidence they needed to convict Carla as an accomplice in Susie’s murder. Carla, however, had died in the early hours of the morning. Not even a blood transfusion could save her. Before she took her last breath, she had confessed to arranging for Yarnold to kill Steve! Stating she loved me and knew Steve was a “wrong ‘un.”
I was gobsmacked. Walker continued: they had checked her phone line and yes, the initial call to Yarnold had been made from her address. So they were no longer investigating Steve’s murder. In fact, Yarnold was already under arrest. Apparently he thought he had killed Steve right there in the flat and was simply so scared he dropped the gun and ran. Turned out it was his first attempt at a hit. Under interrogation he’d said a young woman matching Carla’s description had hired him. Did I ever mention Carla and I were often mistaken for sisters? Whenever I changed my hair style/colour she did too. After Susie died she was my only friend for years. Now I could see she had a bit of a girly crush on me. Obsessive personalty for sure. Her fascination with Ken bore that out.
We were informed Sonia was dead too. Suicide. She had been distraught and angry when she found out about Carla’s involvement in Susie’s murder and decided to be the judge and jury.
Dave nodded when Walker mentioned Steve was actually Sonia’s son. He had thought as much when he saw the old photo of Steve standing among the foliage the day of Susie’s murder. I could hardly think straight. But I understood I was off the hook – and so was Dave.
Walker told us we were free to go. For now.
Sat in the cafe opposite the station Dave began to weep and shake. He had lived with Sonia for years. He’d lost both her and Susie. I put my arm around him and we clung to each other. What a roller-coaster we’d endured. I doubted I would ever forgive myself for having a hand in Steve’s killing. I knew Carla had confessed to orchestrating the hit as a way of trying to cancel out being involved with Susie’s death. An eye for an eye, perhaps. But I was alive and free and she and Susie – dead.
Beth, Dave’s partner, finally came to collect him and she dropped me home. That was only the day before yesterday. And here I am now back at the place where it all started.
I’m about to take out the photo from my bag when I see a familiar sight walking across the field. It is Bill, and… could it be, surely not… Boo-boo?
Bill smiles and walks over. He knows who I am. I don’t look very different from when I left my parent’s home a few years ago.
“Ellieeeee… Helloooo.” He holds out his hand for me to shake. His preferred way of greeting.
Noticing my tears, “Don’t be sad… Ellie.”
I get up off the ground. “Hello, how lovely to see you.” And I mean it. Bill is such a gentle person and I have fond memories of him from my childhood.
“Don’t worry, Bill, I’m OK. Just thinking about Susie.”
I lean down and stroke the exact replica of Boo-boo.
“Who is this lovely creature?” I well know Boo-boo is in doggy heaven.
“He is Boo-boo.” I look questioningly at Bill and he continues, “Yes, yes. Boo-boo … the sequel.” He throws his head back and laughs. His slightly slanted eyes crinkling at the corners.
I laugh too. And for a moment all my worries seem to lift.
“Would you like a polo-mint, Ellie.” He produces some from his pocket. I am grateful as my mouth seems rather dry. “It will make you happy. I remember you and Susie always liked them.”
“Thank you Bill.” I pop the mint in my mouth.
“Bye, Ellie. See you another day.” Bill and Boo-boo two continue on their walk.
As I watch them disappear I remember the piece of paper Carla gave me. I am wearing the same jeans and check my pocket. Sitting back down on my jacket I smooth out the crumpled note.
Very quickly I realise it is from Ken’s diary. Carla must have found this in his flat and held on to it. The reason soon becomes clear.
“It was obvious Steve Marchant fancied Susie before he found out she was his sister. The day his dad told him he went ballistic. Came round to my place and spilled out that he hated the bitch for having their mum all to herself. I told him to get a grip, forget the family stuff and just admit he fancied the pants of Susie. After all, she was hotter than the girls of our own age. I mentioned I was meeting her in the woods the next day and he could come too. I knew he’d show.
He waited though until that skinny kid Ellie had gone. I heard him in the bushes while Carla held Susie’s wrists for me. Steve craved some action and didn’t want Carla to know so I told her to disappear. Pretending I wanted Susie all to myself. Steve came into the clearing and the soppy git got down on his knees and kissed Susie gently on the lips. She was still conscious at this point and opened her eyes briefly looking up at him. That scared him. He went mad again. Started squeezing her throat. Really hard. I thought he was going to have her. He was one crazy fucker. I had to pull him away. Told him to bugger off, she was mine. I eventually put my own hands around her neck. It was her time. My first and most tantalizing murder”
As I finish reading my breathing becomes shallow and my hands begin to shake. Did I ever really know Steve? I just about manage to screw up the paper and put a match to it. I can’t see how this information would help matters. Both Steve’s parents are dead. I will tell Dave, to lessen the guilt that weighs down on him for being involved with Steve’s killing. No one else need know. But how will I move on from all of this? So much has happened. Perhaps I should get away for a bit. Live my life for both Susie and me.
I take out the old photo from my handbag for a final look. Time to let go of the past. It occurs to me that my instinct when I first saw the image had been correct. The camera never lies…
With a strike of the match, flames devour the snap.
Header image adapted by me – original from Pixabay