Free Breakfast: Part Three
Part Three: Melissa
The early morning sun covered the buildings like an afghan. It was crocheted in a living room with family photos on its light pink walls. Old, wrinkled hands weaved its fabric in and out. They would sometimes shake, and every so often pause to grab a glass of water. After months the hands draped the blanket over the old mall, the small cafes, the motels. Their owner stood back and watched its sun cover the small city. Smiling, she sat down in her chair and sighed, the wrinkles in her face curling. I stood and watched from a motel window, rope in my hand. I loved the town. I really did. But a physical location can’t save someone. It’s just there, reflecting your feelings. If you’re happy, the sun shines brighter and the birds sing along with you. If you are sad, the places you love close their doors and the sky rains like never before. The pathetic fallacy works both ways. I looked around the room. The bed was clean; there were fresh mints in a bowl by the TV. All of this had been prepared for someone, maybe a family coming through town on vacation or even a young couple looking for a place to be alone. The only person it had not been prepared for is me. I placed both my hands around my neck and tried to imagine. I closed my eyes.
She loved waterskiing. That’s what the article had said. Who loves waterskiing? I mean, sure, I’ve water-skied a few times and I guess I liked it, but it seemed like such an odd thing to define her by. “Teen Suicide at Sunny Days” was the headline that covered up most of the paper, along with her school photo from the beginning of the year. Right underneath the photo was her name: Melissa Friesen. It wasn’t a very good photo; her eyes were slightly closed like she was in the middle of a blink, and her smile felt a little too wide for her face. Even with that, there was a kind of subtle prettiness to her. I was actually quite surprised by how nice she looked. Her brown hair came to just below her shoulders, and her skin was pale in a cute way. She looked quite a bit better alive than dead. I was right about her being close to me and Kevin’s age – in fact, she even went to the same school as us. I was almost certain I had never seen her before; although there seemed to be something familiar about her face. I tried to picture seeing her in the hallway, or sitting across from me in one of my classes, but all I could picture was her waterskiing.
I decided to take the bus to school instead of letting Kevin give me a ride. I actually hadn’t talked to him since yesterday. I guess that’s a pretty short period of time, but it felt like forever. On the bus I heard people talking about Melissa. A few people were mentioning her funeral, which I guess had been arranged for sometime later in the week. It felt strange, other people reacting to it. I never really thought about the effect outside of me and Kevin. I don’t know what I thought, that the maid would just come sweep her up, and all we’d be left with is a memory of a dead body. As I walked into the school doors, it seemed the whole school was buzzing but in this, weird negative way. Everyone was in these secluded groups, talking in low voices, creating this ominous bass that almost created a literal cloud above the hallways. It was messed up.
With all this talk about Melissa, I felt pretty surprised that in our single encounter only one of us was alive. It was the same feeling as when you learn a new word, and soon you start to see it everywhere, and you’re not sure if everyone just started using it or you never noticed. She seemed like a pretty popular girl, though. Either that or everyone was afraid of looking inconsiderate. As I walked by a few of my friends they didn’t even look at me. It felt kind of weird, I didn’t know Melissa at all, but in some ways, I was closer to her than anyone in the school. I had been there at the scene of the crime. Crime? I’m not sure what you would call it, but I was there. People should be asking me for details, asking me if I’m all right. Even though I knew it was better if I didn’t let anyone know about my and Kevin’s discovery, there was part of me that wanted to announce it. The sympathy and attention were oddly attractive.
Right by my locker there was a larger group huddled on the floor. Some of them were even dressed in black, and all of them had this teary, post-cry look. I assumed these were Melissa’s closest friends. I was trying not to stare as I opened my locker. The metal stuck to the sweat on my fingers so it was a few tries before the door swung open. A slip of paper was lying on the bottom, and without much effort I noticed it was Kevin’s handwriting. He attaches these weird little curls on the end of every letter. “Meet me at Sunny Days” he had written, with the bottom of the “y”s twisting in little knots. I barely noticed the calligraphy though. Why wouldn’t he just text me? This isn’t a movie. I also really didn’t want to go back. However, I didn’t want Kevin to do anything stupid. School hadn’t started just yet, and I had a math test first block. I hate math. I counted my bus fare.
The motel was pretty much how we left it. The colours maybe looked a little duller after yesterday’s events, but there was still the ugly sign out front. In yellow and orange letters it said “Welcome to Sunny Days”, next to a cartoon of a sun winking. The sun was also flashing a “shaka” sign, and a speech bubble had him saying the words “Hang Loose!” It was pretty lame. Kevin was sitting in the lobby when I arrived. He looked like he had barely slept.
“I barely slept”, he said once I entered through the revolving door. “But for the hour I did, I had a dream”.
I let out a fake gasp of amazement. Kevin has always claimed that he’s never dreamt. I’ve explained to him numerous times that everyone dreams, yet he might not remember his, but he’s always insisted that he’s special.
“I was in the room where we saw the girl”, he said as if he was announcing a grand triumph.
“Lower your voice”, I said through gritted teeth. “I don’t want anyone finding out we were there.” There were a few cops talking with some employees at the front desk, easily within earshot. I could smell the breakfast wafting in from the other room. I was surprised it was even open. Wouldn’t they close it after a death? I guess they couldn’t kick everyone out.
“Anyways”, Kevin continued, his voice barely lower. “I was with her, the girl who committed suicide.”
“Melissa.” I said tossing him a paper from a nearby coffee table.
“Yeah, her.” He took a look at the photo. “Oh, well she looks better here. But she was almost a ghost in my dream. She showed me where she put her suicide note.” All throughout his story he had been ruffling his hair. He was beginning to look like a mad scientist. “Under the bed,” he concluded on a final, dramatic note.
“What?” I was surprised. “Under the bed?” That’s barely even hiding it. “She might as well just have held it in her hand or something” I guess she was a water-skier.
“Oh yeah, but, uh, in a different room.”
“What?!” I was even more surprised. “Why so much effort?”
“I don’t know, but that’s where she told me it was. Room three, floor two.”
On the elevator up I kept thinking how stupid this was. Following around a hint Kevin got in a dream of his? We had no business investigating this, or snooping around, that should be left to the police or the FBI or something. Still, I have to admit I was intrigued. The elevator ride took about two seconds – it would have been faster just to take the stairs. At the end of the hallway I could see a group of people standing around the door we had walked into yesterday. I stood staring at them for a couple seconds, and when I turned around, Kevin had already picked the lock and was already checking underneath the bed of room three. I came and crouched behind him.
“There’s nothing here,” he said, barely hiding his disappointment.
“Well, what did you expect?” I was disappointed as well. “You saw it in a dream”. But Kevin wasn’t listening. He was looking past me.
“Hey guys,” a female voice said.
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