These entries from September's challenge were selected as Honorable Mentions. Those who completed this challenge are now encouraged to share their stories in the comments section of the "September Writing Challenge."
Zhy couldn’t sleep. He wanted to, he really did, but every time he shut his eyes, his soul and body felt like they would drift apart — which they would if he ever fell asleep. And then he would have to see Nova. He would see her and be reminded of his disappointing lack of progress in helping her. He hated that more than anything.
Zhy glanced over at Nova sitting next to him on the rooftop, her gaze set straight ahead.
“No,” he lied. It was easier than explaining that he felt like a failure. She wouldn’t understand. “Why are we always here?”
“On the roof?”
Nova shrugged, “I guess I like it here.”
Zhy’s eyes brightened with hope as he asked, “Could here be where you died?”
“I told you that I don’t know where I died.”
Zhy’s jaw twitched. The indifference in her voice swelled his frustration like a balloon with too much air.
He jumped to his feet and started shouting, “well, I’m sorry! I’m sorry for wanting to find your murderer! I’m sorry for trying to find out what happened to you so you can finally rest in peace! I’m sorry, Nova! Forgive me!”
“I’ve given you everything I can remember.”
“Everything? You call ‘I remember books’ everything? Or, wait, maybe it was the fact that you felt happy and you were with someone! Someone who most likely mutilated you and dumped your body some place no one would ever think to look!”
“If you were just going to shout at me then you really shouldn’t have come here, Switch.”
Hearing her use the nickname she made for him normally calmed him down, but it only filled him with bitterness now.
He let out a dry laugh, “I wish I had a choice.”
“Do you?” Her voice was quiet, calm compared to his. He took a minute to let her question sink in. Did he? Did he really have everything to figure out who killed Nova? And was he really holding back because a tiny, loud part of him didn’t want lose her? Not now; maybe not for a long time?
“Everything I’ve told you is everything I can remember about that day, Switch,” she whispered. “I was in a room and there were books –”
“Like a library?”
“I don’t remember. I was happy, excited even, because he was there…”
Zhy was tired of hearing this. Tired of how she spoke about him (whoever he was) like he couldn’t have killed her, like she still had feelings for him, like he was still everything to her and Zhy was a mere nothing. He hated it.
“Who was there?”
“I don’t remember.”
Zhy turned away. “I’m leaving.”
“To leave is to grieve.”
Zhy stopped. He knew those words. That dumb, pointless quote his bothersome English teacher always went around saying like it held any meaning when it didn’t. Not until now. He turned back to Nova.
Then he remembered.
He remembered how she used to loiter after class to talk to him, how she frequented the English department, but he thought nothing of it. Maybe she was just terrible at English and needed extra attention. But it all made sense now. Books? The English department was filled with books. And Nova felt happy because she was in love with him, Mr. June, the English teacher.
Nova was wrong. Zhy wasn’t the one holding back, she was. Deep down she knew who’d murdered her, but she refused to believe it because she was in love with him.
Now he just had to prove it.
It’s cold. I didn’t think to grab my jacket as Becca dragged me out of my room. I was rather annoyed that my binge of Sherlock had been interrupted, but I let her anyways. It had been months since I had gone out on a Friday night, or out at all. Besides, I already know what happens. He falls.
I suddenly realize that she’s been talking. “It’s going to be great. I know you’ll love it.” Rather than admitting that I hadn’t been listening, I nod and say, “Sure.” As we pull up, I smell deep fried foods and sugar fill the air. My eyes widen. “No, no, no way! I’m not going to the fair.” Last year’s memories flood my mind. “Come on, Ashley, it’s been a whole year! It’ll be great closure. Plus, I’m not driving you back home.” Sighing, I step out of the car and onto the pavement. Kids were scattered everywhere, trying to win prizes, or waiting in lines with their parents and friends. Becca pulled me along until we reached a group of girls anxiously gossiping. Becca’s friends. I mean, my friends.
Becca immediately joins in on the conversation while I automatically zone out. As I pretend to listen, I catch a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye. I go rigid. A pair of warm brown eyes watch me from the entrance of a mirrored maze. I quickly turn away. It can’t be him. The only reason he was here last year was because I liked the fair. I agree to something Becca says and turn back to search for those eyes, but they are gone. “Hey, I’m gonna go get some cotton candy.” Becca barely spares me a glance as I wander into the mirrored maze.
I walk along, marveling at so many reflections, until I reach a fork. I decide to go left and am overwhelmed by a familiar scent of pine. “You shouldn’t have come here,” I tell myself, but I desperately rush forwards anyways. I hit a dead-end, where a boy stands with his back to me. He has ruffled black hair and a tall, lanky figure. I draw a sharp breath as he turns around, but when he looks at me, I am disappointed again. It isn’t him. Just his ghost that decided to pay me a visit tonight.