The Girl in Black

Cleo, Anthem, and I were inseparable. We were the best of friends, we had been closer than sisters for as long as I can remember. We shared everything, did everything together, and told each other everything. The point is, we were closer than close and we loved each other. This was a fact. In the same way that the sky is blue, and things that stop breathing are dead, Cleo, Nicole, and I loved each other.

The thing is, I knew Cleo and Anthem better than anyone. In fact, I knew their faces better than my own. I knew them so well that I could describe them in a way that would make a blind man see them. I had spent years studying Cleo’s sharp dark features. I had practically memorized the way each of her long thick black curls spiraled around her head. I had watched the way Anthems bright green eyes squinted when she thought, and the way the freckles on her cheeks seemed to blend together when she smiled. I could go on forever describing them.

I like to think of them as colors. The best way to describe Cleo is as a bright brilliant shade of pink .An electric rose you could say. You can’t help but notice someone like Cleo. She was the type to walk into a room and demand attention, but she never reacted well when she didn’t get it That was the thing about Cleo, ever so often her bright shade of pink would shift into a shade of red. Fiery and intense.

Cleo had a terrible temper. Her anger scared us. She was like a rubber band stretched tight ready to break. Luckily her tantrums were few and far between. But I still remember one of the first times we saw that side of Cleo. I don’t quite remember what set her off, probably something small. Maybe she didn’t get her way, or had lost at one of the many made up games we created. Regardless she was heated.

Cleo was uncontrollable. She stormed around in a fit of angry tears kicking over anything in her path. She was inconsolable, she screamed horrible insults at Anthem. She even flipped over the light pink desk in her room and kicked at the walls leaving scuff marks all over them. Anthem just sat and watched quietly. That was how she was. She was the most calm and mature person I had ever met, she had always been that way. If Anthem was a color she would be a soft yellow. Beautiful, feminine and agreeable. She had a quiet elegance that drew people to her. Sometimes I think Cleo envied that.

Anthem stared off into the distance pretending not to notice Cleo’s tantrum. But, we both couldn’t ignore the thick fear that floated around the room making it hard to breath. It was the vivid anger shooting from her eyes that scared us the most. She seemed angry enough to kill. But, eventually Cleo calmed down and everything returned to normal, and just like that our friendship was perfect again.

Sometimes I wonder what my color is. I can never decide on one that fits me. Maybe i’m transparent. I morph to match the colors around me, I guess you could say that makes me weak. Maybe that’s why it was so easy for me to turn red when Cleo wanted.

I still remember the last summer we all spent together. The summer had begun and carried on like any other. We spent our hours trying to escape the Santa Monica heat. Our usual ways of accomplishing this were going to the beach, talking the cute boys who sold Popsicles into giving us some, (Cleo had a way of making anyone do anything) and escaping to our place; a small opening a few miles into the woods.The walk was long and complicated but we loved it. The funny thing was, as many years as we had spent trekking back and forth from our place the only one who really remembered how to get there was Cleo. Anthem and I could never quite remember where to turn or which stream to follow. Cleo could get us there with her eyes closed.

It was early in the afternoon and we had decided that we would walk to our place. We all quickly agreed, but before we left Cleo insisted on grabbing a small bag from her room to take with us. This was strange but at the time we thought nothing of it. We didn’t bother to ask what was in the bag.

We started into the woods, but this time something felt different. Cleo was quiet. Something that almost never happened. Anthem glanced at me with her squinting, questioning eyes, but I refused to meet them.

We walked silently for a while. I could tell Anthem wanted to ask the obvious question of what was wrong but was too nervous, the last thing she would have wanted was to set Cleo off into a tantrum. So we continued to walk quietly through the woods.

After a while Cleo stopped walking and faced me and Anthem. She told us how she thought she had lost her bracelet somewhere near where we had stopped. She told us how she wanted to go find it, but didn’t want us to wait for her. She said we should keep walking to our place and she would meet us there later. Before anyone could say anything Cleo walked away leaving me and Anthem standing alone in the woods.

Anthem asked what was wrong and I lied and told her I didn’t know. I told her we should just do what Cleo had said and walk to our place. Anthem brought up the fact that neither of us knew how to get there. I lied again and told her I did.

I figured the best way to make Anthem think I knew where I was going was to just pretend that I did. I tried to look as confident as possible as I told her where to walk. After a while of me leading us in circles we came to the edge of a tall ledge that dropped to a small rocky stream below. Suddenly, we heard something moving in the bushes near us. Something big. Anthem and I stood completely still and watched. Then, out of nowhere a figure in a black mask and bodysuit jumps from the bushes and lunges at Anthem pushing her to the ground. Anthem and the figure in the black wrestle for a while getting closer and closer to the ledge. That’s when it happened. The figure gets Anthem to edge of the ledge and gets ready to push her. For a split second I make eye contact with Anthem. I’ll never forget the look Anthem had in her eyes. Her eyes were pleading, begging me to help her, but they were also sad because I wasn’t helping her. Before I could really comprehend everything that was happening, the figure completely throws Anthem from the ledge.

I walked to the edge and stared. I watched the way Anthems body hit the cold water below. I watched and watched hoping she would get up but she never did. I could have stood there and watched forever if It wasn’t for Cleo tapping me on the shoulder reminding me that we had to do something with Anthem’s body.

A few hours later, Cleo and I walked quietly through the woods. I followed a short distance behind her watching the weird way her body moved in the tight dark fabric that covered her entire body. It was over. Anthem was gone and it was our fault.