You Owe Me a Murder

You Owe Me a Murder

Eileen Cook

To my friends

who have always been there for me

and offer to bring the tarp, shovel, and no questions

when the need arises.

North American Student Scholars for Change

Our summer programs are formulated to show the world to your exceptional teen. Designed for high academic achievers with an interest in expanding their worldview, our programs have been called life-changing. Our trips combine the opportunity to view art and architecture and learn about history with a world-class guide, and your child will develop his or her independence and maturity while building friendships that will last a lifetime.


August 15

16 Days Remaining

I plotted murder in the Vancouver airport while waiting at gate D78 for my flight to London.

Based on the expressions of the people around me, I wasn’t the only one thinking of how to do someone in. Our flight was delayed and everyone was irritated and restless. The couple at the end of the row were fighting about which one of them had forgotten to lock the bedroom window before they left. Then there were at least a half-dozen people wanting to take out the toddler wearing the SpongeBob T-shirt, who vacillated between shrieking at a decibel normally used to torture dogs and running around slamming into everyone with his grimy hands.

The old guy across from me snarled, baring his yellowed teeth, every time the kid whirled in his direction. You’d think that would freak the toddler out, but it didn’t seem to make any impact. Maybe the little boy got his ability to ignore unpleasant things from his mom. She stared down at an issue of People magazine, her lips moving as she read, completely ignoring the fact that people in the gate area wanted to club her kid with their roller bags. The only way you knew it was her child was that when he would slam into her, she’d hold out a limp plastic baggie filled with rainbow-colored gummy worms and then drop one into his clutching hand. She was like an apathetic mama bird.

I tilted my head to the side to crack the tension in my neck. I wished I could block things out that well. Instead I found myself continually looking over at Connor. My back teeth clenched, tight enough to crack. Miriam was perched on his lap. I told myself to stop staring, but my attention kept being pulled back. He slid his hand under her shirt and rubbed her back in tight circles. I knew that move. He’d done that to me.

Before he’d dumped me.

Miriam ruffled his hair. He couldn’t stand it when I’d done that. He’d push my hand away or duck out of my reach. Connor had gone deaf after a bout of chicken pox as a kid and had cochlear implants so he could hear. He wore his hair a bit shaggy because he didn’t like to draw attention to the processor behind his ears. I’d found it fascinating. Not just because it’s a pretty cool piece of tech, but also because I wanted to know how he felt going from a silent world to being able to hear. But he didn’t like to talk about it, or for me to touch his hair.

Apparently, he didn’t have the same hang-up with Miriam. I reminded myself that I didn’t care. Connor meant nothing to me now. I swallowed hard.

Toddler SpongeBob slammed into me. His sticky fingers, streaked red and blue from the candy, clutched my jeans. He stared up at me with his watery eyes and then, without looking away, slowly lowered his drooling, slobbery mouth to my knee and bit me.

“Hey!” I shoved him hard without thinking. He teetered for a moment and then fell onto his giant padded diaper butt, letting out a cry. I glanced around guiltily, shame landing on my chest with a thud. His mother didn’t even look over. The old man gave me a thumbs-up gesture. Great—?that’s me, Kim, the kind of person who beats up preschoolers when she’s not stalking her ex-boyfriend. I crouched down to help the kid up, but he pushed me away and returned to running wildly up and down the aisle.

I peered down at my phone, wishing I could call my best friend, Emily. She always knew how to cheer me up. She was spending the entire summer working at a camp on the far side of Vancouver Island. She didn’t have any cell service or WiFi, so there was going to be no quick “everything will be fine” text or call. Granted, if I’d been able to reach her earlier in the summer, I might not even have been in this situation at all. Communicating old school—?by letters—?might be vintage and nostalgic, but it does you no good when you have an emotional disaster that needs immediate BFF interaction.

We’d been friends since elementary school and this was the longest I’d ever gone without talking to her. So far, my summer was proof positive that I shouldn’t be allowed to handle things on my own. I fished the last card she’d sent me out of my bag. Inside she’d scribbled, “I know you can do this! Your trip’s going to be amazing!!” Emily never met an exclamation point that she didn’t like. Despite the positive punctuation, I was pretty sure she was wrong on both counts. I felt far from capable, and although the flight hadn’t even left, I already hated everything about this trip.

I took a deep breath, counting in for three and then letting it whoosh out. I can do this. I wasn’t going to let Emily and my parents down.

A few rows over, Miriam laughed, tossing her head back as if Connor had just told the best joke of all time. She playfully punched him in the chest with her tiny little hand. Everything about her was miniaturized. She told everyone she was five feet tall, but she was four eleven at best. She looked ridiculous when she stood next to Connor. He could have put her into his backpack and carried her around like a Chihuahua.

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