This is a story in four parts.
Emily Santis’ funeral was awful. It was probably the most heartbreaking thing I’d ever been to. The crying, the wailing, and the mourning was non-stop and I, Reed Coolidge, the most invisible person at Sojourner Truth Prep before all this, was in the thick of it all.
I was sandwiched between solemn-faced James Lane, Emily’s once upon a time boyfriend, and sobbing Rachel Coates, Emily’s best friend and sidekick.
Ever since I ran across Emily’s body, the administration treated me like some kind of hero. At the funeral, Headmistress Baylor even rewarded me for my ‘act of bravery.’ How unnecessary and tasteless. A girl was dead. Someone murdered her and stuffed her into a bathroom stall, and I was getting rewarded for following my nose? Give me a break.
I wanted to sprint out of there, but Rachel gripped my hand every time the thought filtered in my mind. Emily’s stepfather, a tall, brooding dark-skinned man said a few words about his step-daughter; her accomplishments, and what she’d planned to accomplish if she were still alive today. Emily’s mother, however, a small, Vietnamese woman, was too distraught to say much of anything. She clung to her husband, her eyes downcast and swollen.
When Emily’s class picture was hung in the gym, above the basketball hoops, Rachel let out a strangled cry. The sports teams, out of respect, rose for Emily Santis. The swim team, especially. There was a silly rumor that she was part mermaid because she swam so quickly. She was their star. I locked eyes with Rose Gallagher, my best friend and Emily’s teammate. Her lips turned downward, and a cry trembled on her lips. Rose never cried.
That’s when I knew I had to get out of there. I excused myself from the bleachers when the band was on the upswing of the school song. I was supposed to sing the solo, but I knew everyone would be too emotional to see me come or go. I walked out of the gymnasium doors and I didn’t get far before I collapsed to the floor and curled in a ball, the weight of Emily’s death finally bringing me to my knees.
Emily was the kind of girl that was everyone’s best friend. She was beautiful; the kind of ridiculous, over-the-top beauty that only occurred once in every six million babies. She wasn’t a snob, either. Emily was humble for a girl who could be an international super model. She was sweet, always smiling and knew everyone’s name. To Emily, there were no cliques. She had her core group of friends, sure. But she wasn’t the type of girl to have three classes with you since second grade and not know who you were. She treated everyone fairly and even though we all knew she was the best, we never felt intimidated by her. She reigned quietly and politely over the school.
Emily was brilliant, fast and talented. She was one of a kind. But I still didn’t get it. Who would want to kill a girl like Emily Santis? Well, that was the easy part—anyone who wanted to be brilliant, fast, and talented just like her.
And that made every girl at Truth suspect #1.