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I walk into the funeral building, feeling like I’m going to throw up. This will be the first time I’ve seen Danielle since . . . the day. The last time I saw her, it was the night before. We were watching Cats, her favorite, and singing along with the music. Everything was fine. Everything was normal.
We went to bed late that night, around 1:30 in the morning, still humming the songs from the musical. It was like any other night. I’d never dreamed that when I’d wake up, my sister would be gone. It wasn’t like I’d heard anything in the middle of the night. But I didn’t sleep well. I woke up before my alarm went off at 5:15 a.m., rolling myself out of bed and thumping down the stairs. My dad was awake, but he hadn’t turned on the news yet. He greeted me with a nod, stirring creamer into his coffee. Undoubtedly my mother was already gone; she usually left just before five so she could stop at Starbucks to waste her money on an overpriced chocolate frappuccino (she never bothered to watch the news). I grabbed some oatmeal and tossed it in the microwave with a little milk, like I usually do. In the living room, I switched on the news.
And I screamed.
My dad stumbled into the living room, in a complete frenzy. His eyes locked onto the screen, growing wide with horror.
On the screen there was a grave-looking reporter standing outside our school, Greenwood High. The large red headline shouted Teen Takes Her Own Life In the Night. “Last night Danielle Barnes committed suicide just outside the town’s high school. She was found at 4:56 in the morning by her own mother, a township police officer who was just driving to work. So far we have no evidence or any reasons as to why she would have done such a thing, but we are currently looking farther into the case.” Tears clustered in my eyes, beginning to roll down my cheeks. I thought, This isn’t true. This can’t be true . . . please, it’s not true . . .
My father just stood there in shock. For a moment, I thought he was going to drop his overfilled coffee cup, but he was gripping it tightly. Both of his fists were clenched in agony.
“Now let’s see what Mrs. Barnes has to say about this terrible tragedy.” The screen switched to my mother facing another reporter in a meeting room. Before the reporter could say anything, my mom wailed, “Whyyyyy? Danielle! Why would she–do–I . . .”
The reporter took a breath but released it with a slight touch of frustration as my mom continued with “My girl, my sweet baby girl . . .”
The reporter sucked in a breath quickly and jumped. “Do you have any idea why your daughter would have done something like this?” she asked quickly, her blonde hair bobbing as she stared at my distraught mother, who shook her head wildly, gasping for air as tears spilled down her face. “No! My baby . . . she was the happiest . . . ever . . . she . . . I . . .”
The scene cut abruptly to show the main reporter, shaking his head sadly. “Mrs. Barnes requested that we share no more than that, but we do have a few acquaintances of Danielle Barnes who are willing to come forward and share any thoughts on why this teen would have killed herself.”
I was crying uncontrollably by then, wailing at the TV. My dad was still completely frozen with shock, not able to tear his eyes away, although I saw a few droplets forming and beginning to descend down his cheeks.
The news showed a girl from our school, Liv Farley. Liv was one of those people who spied on Danielle and me. Mostly Danielle. I just happened to be there, with Danielle, whenever she was doing the spying. Liv was never very popular, but she was a gossip. I groaned out loud. Anything Liv had to say couldn’t be good. That girl will do anything to get attention.
Liv cleared her throat and put on a sad face. Fake tears dripped down her cheeks and I found myself boiling with rage.
“Danielle was my best friend,” she sniffed. “I can’t believe she did it. I mean, I can.” What is she saying? I thought. Where was she going with this? I had a terrible feeling I knew.
“Danielle was such a happy girl on the outside. But I know, on the inside, she was depressed.” Liv sighed dramatically. “The pool soul. I would have saved her, if I had known she was going to do this so soon. But even I, her closest BFF, could not have predicted this terrible action. Although I knew, of course, she was going to do it someday . . .” she closed her eyes and wiped her tears with one finger, “ . . . I wanted to . . . to believe . . . that she would reconsider . . .” She sighed again, a long, breathy sigh, and fluttered her teary eyes. “Rest in peace, Danielle. I will always be your number one.”
I grabbed the remote and turned off the TV with a click. I felt like I was going to vomit.
That’s how I feel now, knowing that I’m about to see Danielle’s body, all the wonderful life taken from it. And not by her. A tear falls to the ground and I glance up at the bold sign that announces the building we’re entering: Walkman Funeral and Cremation Services. I hurry to keep up with my father, who hasn’t said scarcely a word since the day it happened. It’s like all the life has been taken out of him, too. My mother’s already inside; she hurried to be the first to mourn at the side of Danielle’s casket.
As soon as we push through the doors, my stomach does a complete flip and I let my father weave through the crowd alone as I rush through the bathroom door. I push open the first stall door with both of my hands and drop my head, vomiting into the toilet.
How could this have happened? I flush the toilet and slump against the wall, cradling my head in my hands. A faint whine escapes my lips but I cut it off immediately as Liv Farley enters the room. She tilts her nose down at me suspiciously, then appears to realize who I am.
“Ah. Sam.” she sighs dramatically, just like she did on her TV report. “Have you heard?”
I want to scream. Have I HEARD?!
“Oh, of course you did.” she clasps her hands together and squats down next to me. She smells like vanilla and lavender, and and some other sour smell like a lemon left to rot. She gives a fluttering, breathy laugh. Why is she LAUGHING? Is she HAPPY my sister died?
I feel another sickening jolt in my stomach. Of course she is. More attention for her. I’ll bet this is the most attention she’s ever gotten before, and she just wants to soak up the glory as much as possible. Like she cares about Danielle at all! It’s not her twin. It’s mine. Or am I just Danielle’s? Either way, no one cares about me. Then I feel a stab of guilt. Am I making this about me? No . . . no one cares about me or Danielle. Especially Danielle . . . she wouldn’t have wanted it to come to this. Ever.
“What do you want, Liv?” I ask in a shaky, angry voice.
“Oh, I’m sorry, hon,” she says coldly. “I was just trying to be sympathetic. But I can see that I’m not wanted. See if I care.” She stands up and strides toward a stall.
“You’re not wanted,” I say quietly. “And I know you don’t care.”
She turns around. “Excuse me?” she whispers dangerously, tilting her head just slightly.
I stand up and tear out of the room, leaving her glaring at my back.
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