I trudged home from school, footsteps dragging on the ground. Mrs. Applejack had droned on today for hours, never stopping. I was worn out. But-what's that?

I stopped by a car down the road form my house. The windows were opened, and a man's hand dangled out limply. He was sleeping.

My kleptomaniac streak stormed through me. I sidled up to the car, and stuck my head through the window. The stench overpowered me, and I pulled my head back for air, held my sweater over my nose, and stuck my head back in.

Ooh, nice shoes. I opened the door with my learned deftness, and knelt down by the floor.

A ring of blood surrounded the shoes. Ew. They came off easy, and something sloshed inside. More blood. Double ew. But I dismissed it. wouldn't take forever to get these nice and new, and afterwards, I would sell them.

I was eyeing his GPS, feeling around his pockets for his wallet. Only, something was wrong. The man felt stiff. I waved my hand in front of his mouth, and put my hand on his chest. Nothing. The man was dead.

I recoiled, blood roaring in my ears, and sprinted up the block toward my house, slamming the door, sliding down toward the floor. It was a while before my heart rate slowed, and I realized I still clutched the shoes.

"Annie?," my mother called from the kitchen. "Is that you?"

I jumped up and dusted myself off.

"Ya. Just gonna go and get started on some homework," forcing the tremor from my voice. I slowly walked up the steps so as not to alert my mother to anything out of the ordinary.

My head was spinning. What did it all mean? who was he? Why was he killed? These questions swarmed around my mind, plus a million more. I could always check the newspaper for disappearances…

Downstairs there was a loud knock on the door, and the sound of my mom's light footsteps rushing to answer it. Then a man's voice-2.

Wonder who that is?

"Annie, will you come down?" my mother's voices trembled. I scrambled up from my bed, and traipsed down the stairs, to see who had bothered my mom. But when I entered the room, my breath caught in my throat. Two burly policemen lounged on the couch, looking extremely comfortable, being served cookies by my frightened mother.

I quivered in the doorway, but then resolutely held my head high, and marched in. my mother looked relieved to see me, and clutched my shoulders, in terror.

"Annie Toughky?," one of them asked, cookie crumbs on his chin.

"Yes." I shivered involuntary under his icy gaze, for he looked, despite the remnants of his snack on his face, quite menacing.

"You are under arrest for killing a Mr. Jonathan Luper, who at 4:11 was found dead in a car just down the street with your fingerprints upon the victim."

I sucked in a breath. Sloppy, sloppy work, I scolded myself. Where was the glove box I bought? How could I do this to Mom? I remembered the last time I had been caught stealing that beautiful necklace-for mothers day!-but since then my fingerprints had been on file, and my mother had that disappointed look on her face every time someone brought it up-which wasn't often, but is still hurt to see my mother look so downfallen at me.

They dragged me to court. The police didn't let my mother drive in the car with me, so she jumped in our Honda, and I saw her dial my father.

The trial was weird. They changed it around, because I was a kid or something.

A police women was showing the results of the fingerprinting test to the sleepy judge.

I knew I was innocent. But how could I convince the old man on the podium? I couldn't tell them the real reason, that could get me in trouble too….

"I swear I'm innocent!" The words burst out of my mouth. The judge saw my earnest expression. But I saw a glint in his drowsy eyes. He banged his gavel.

"Bring her to custody." I could tell he was angry being interrupted. They shouldn't let sulky people like him make big decisions.

Think fast, I thought. A policeman was walking toward me.

"Ummm, can I use the restroom?," I muttered to him. He nodded, not speaking. Maybe he wasn't allowed to talk to the prisoner? He brought me to a door, and stationed himself in front.

I walked in. There has to be a way out, I mumbled. Anything! This is a bathroom!

I looked around- no openings. I looked up, and saw a tiny window, I just might be able to fit through. But it was so high. I need a ladder.

I looked a the door. The cop would definitely come in and check soon, and I'd be busted. I'd have to make this fast.

I went into a stall and locked the door. Then I climbed onto the seat, put my foot on the toilet paper roll, and hoisted myself up. Holding onto the wall, I put my foot on the top of the partition between the next stall when-

"Are you almost done?" the cop called.

"Just about!" Thank goodness he's male. I would have to work faster. I reached my hand up, and my fingers just made it, landing on the bottom of the window. I put my other hand up, and tried raising myself up. When it didn't work, I looked for a foothold on the surface of the bumpy wall, and pushed.

My head was through, my shoulders, now I was wriggling to freedom. Since the court was underground, the window was at street level.

I rolled out, and looked around, feverishly. Then my feet started pounding on the ground in a mad hurry to get away. Where was I going? I didn't know. Then a plan started to from in my head.

I would find out what really happened. I would verify my innocence. For my mother. Show her my worth. I would need proof though.

I decided to go home, and get Luper's shoes. My parents were still in the courtroom pleading with the judge. I was supposed to be going to Juvenile for a few years at least, and they were trying to cut my time there. Actually, by now they probably found out, and were, like, searching the premises, or something.

I decided to go through the back- just in case, but it was locked.

I'm making this a habit, I laughed to myself, as I squirmed through the window. Ok, that sounds cliché. I sprinted up the steps, and bounded into my room. The shoes were under my bed, where I shoved them before I went down innocently to the cops. Well, not so innocent, but more than they think. I ran down the stairs, opened the back door, darted outside, and vaulted into the neighbors yard.

Ok, how do I begin?, I thought. How do I find my proof? I need a clue!, I realized, those years of reading Sherlock Holmes coming back to me. And then I decided to start for the place where this all began.

The policewomen was pacing back and forth around the car, while her comrade was inside. I bit back a shout of despair in my hiding place around the bushes. Would they stay, and keep guard? Would they drive the car somewhere else?

The policewomen, thankfully, left at 5:00, 1st putting up yellow tape stating: POLICE LINE. CAUTION. DO NOT CROSS.

I pulled my sweatshirt hood over my head, and swaggered to the spot. Hopefully, if seen, I could be mistaken as a teenager checking out the scene of the crime.

I opened the door, braced for a car alarm, but there was none. Dumb police. Great security. The smell of febreze hit me, and I was gratefully without the previous stench I had encountered.

I could see everything had been rifled through, but the overall was the same as how I had first seen it. Wow, Jonathan Luper was a messy man, I mused.

The ring of blood was still around the bottom of the seat, but they had obviously done something with the body. It wasn't there. Oh well.

I would have to search well to find what he police couldn't. Now, where to start? I gave the car a basic look over. Just the normal things you would find. I picked up a stack of papers. I rummaged around the passenger seat. Climbing into the back, I shook out a blanket that was laying there, all rolled up. A booklet flittered out from between the folds.

What's that? I wondered, checking over my shoulders for any cops. Then I picked it up. It was a pamphlet with the label Von Willebrand disease.

This has to be a lead!, I thought excitedly. But what's it for? I couldn't run back to my house. The police were for sure staking it out. A flash of my best friends face burst through my mind, and I ran to her home, only a few blocks away.

I peeked in through their window, ready to duck.

It was 6:30. Kim was washing the dishes after supper. I had spotted her parents in the front room, as I had rushed toward her backyard, putting on their coats, and five minutes later heard the start of their Lamborghini. I sighed with relief. Her parents were going out and, thankfully Kim was an only child. Just like me.

I scrambled up her back steps, and pounded my fist against her door. She opened it in shock.

"Annie? What happened?," she asked, when she saw me breathing heavily. Why come in through the back? I tried your house a couple of times tonight but no answer. What's up?"

I explained in a rushed breath. Kim knows me. And while she was in on the necklace scandal, she knows I would never kill.

"So," I finished, sucking in air. "Can I borrow your computer?"

"Stowing a runaway?," Kim chuckled. "Course. Go upstairs. My parents wont be home for another two hours."

Not wanting to waste anytime, I cantered up the steps, and entered Kim's bedroom, flipping open her laptop to reveal her homepage-Google.

"What is Von Willebrand?," I muttered, and a list of hits appeared. I clicked on one. "Bleeding disorder…hard to stop after injury…life threatening." Oh boy. "Kim!" She ran up the steps. "What's Von Willebrand Disease?," I said rapidly. Her dad was a doctor.

Kim explained. "It's when someone can get even the smallest of cuts, but the blood cant clot, so the person bleeds to death," she stated bluntly.

I gasped. "S-so-that was why Luper's shoes were filled with blood!" Fireworks were exploding in my head.

"He wasn't killed, but he bled to death from a cut!," Kim finished breathlessly.

I leaped up. "I've gotta go and put the pieces together, Kim. You're the best!," and bolted down the stairs, and out the door.

I rounded the corner, still clutching the shoes, and booklet. But what I saw made my heart rate stop, then restart again in a frenzy. Or rather, what I didn't see.

The car was gone. I crumpled to the ground, trying not to break down in tears. Any more evidence I might have gotten, was gone. The opportunity was ripped away. What I had was no proof. I needed pieces to fit together, to form my defense.

Now, on the floor, I noticed a knife. Maybe it has something to do with all of this?, I thought halfheartedly, but picked it up anyways. Underneath a paper flapped in the wind. I probably wouldn't have noticed it, except for the fact that on it was written a short paragraph signed by none other than-John Luper.

Dear whoever finds this,

My life is over. The Dr. has just told me I have been diagnosed with the disease Von Willebrand. I cannot live my life in fear, rushing to ER with every cut I make to my body. So I am stabbing myself knowing that I will bleed to death.

John Luper