People try to excuse me, when they find out about my role in how things happened. They say that I was young, that I was naïve, as though those words are the same as being innocent. They say I didn't understand what I was doing or how it would turn out, that I didn't have enough maturity to think through all the possible consequences and outcomes. All of this was true, but it doesn't matter, because it doesn't change anything.

If I try to point this out, they usually get uncomfortable and shift awkwardly, trying to lighten or change the subject so they can still look at me like a person instead of a monster.

"Oh, well, it was all a long time ago," is what they usually say. "That's all in the past."

This is the point where I usually walk away, because that depth of ignorance and refusal to attempt to understand leaves my chest burning with resentment and shame. Anyone should know that the span of years means nothing when so many people are still feeling the impact of my choices, when they will continue to be affected by them every day for the rest of their lives. The past cannot be brushed aside, when it still reverberates so strongly in the present. It cannot be dismissed, or people might forget what they should learn from it.

I cannot and should not ever forget what I did to irredeemably destroy my relationship with my sister, when I was nine years old. It was the only genuine and loving relationship I had at the time, and I have had nothing that could compare to it since. That's my own fault, I know, a natural consequence of my actions. I was young and immature to the point of being nearly stunted, but still, I was not innocent.

As I share my story now, nearly ten years have passed since its events, and nearly as many since my sister last spoke to me. Legally, I'm an adult, older than my sister was then, and my sister is now almost as old as our mother lived to be. I worry some nights, when I cannot sleep, that she will share our mother's fate, that she will be gone from the world before I can ever succeed in earning back her love, and the thought is devastating. At the same time, I think this would be a fitting for me. She mattered to me over everything when I was a child, and even now, she still does. Losing her forever would be no more than I deserve, and yet I want to try one more time to explain myself to her, to earn her understanding if not her acceptance. I have to get my story out there into the world, just in case my sister, like my mother, is fated to death at an early age, and so here it is. I have no way to send it to her, but maybe someone who knew us then will recognize our story in our words and send it her way.

So if you are reading this, Lucy, this is how things happened, at least, from my nine-year-old, twisted up point of view. Please know that I loved you then, and I love you now. I don't ask anything of you but that you read my words and try to understand, even if you cannot forgive.


Ten years before

I don't want to be popular, really. I don't really want to wear expensive clothes and fix my hair every day and have boyfriends . I don't want to be rude to teachers and say bad words and make fun of the kids who are fat or poor or in the special class. That's what all the popular girls do, and I don't want to, because that's mean. It makes me sad when people are mean to me, so I don't want to make other people sad even if it makes people like me better. My sister Lucy says popular kids are shallow, even though that doesn't make sense to me because I thought that was one of the sides of a swimming pool. I can tell she doesn't think it's a good thing though, so I try to pretend I don't care about being popular, and I really don't, usually.

Still, even though I don't want to be popular, I wish other kids liked me more, just a little. I wish I at least had some friends, or even just one best friend that liked me more than everyone else. But I don't. No one is as mean to me as they are to some of the other kids, but no one really seems to like me that much either. Most of the time, they just don't pick me to talk to or play with. Sometimes I feel like they forget I'm in their class at all, even if we're sitting next to each other.

I don't want to be popular, but I do sort of want to be cool. And I'm not, at all. I don't ever wear the right kind of clothes. My pants are too big or too tight or too high up around my tummy, or my shirts don't have the right store name on them, or my shoes don't look right or are the wrong colors. Even if I like what I'm wearing when I put it on, I figure out later that just because I like it doesn't mean it's cool. Because then I go to school and see what other girls have on and how they look at my clothes and laugh or roll their eyes. My daddy doesn't know anything about what third grade girls should wear, and even though my sister Lucy does and tries to help me, somehow I end up putting on what she says to wear in the wrong way, or it just doesn't look the same on me that it does on the cool girls.

There's a lot more than just my clothes they make fun of. I get called dumb sometimes, because I failed first grade and now I'm one of the oldest ones in my class. And even though I'm older, a lot of the kids act like I'm a baby or boring, because I still like to do a lot of the stuff they say we're too old for anymore. I don't know why nine is too old to play dolls and tag and My Little Pony, but the other girls in my grade say it is. Instead they want to paint nails and do hair and makeup, and I don't have that stuff and I don't really know how to do it anyway. They want to talk about boys and dating and famous people and I don't care about any of that stuff, I don't know why they think boys are so cute when they all like to make fart noises and talk about butts all the time anyway.

The other thing is the girls in my grade are always talking about stuff they do on their phones, and all I have is a tablet that doesn't work the same way most of the time. Even when I tried to join Facebook and Twitter, hardly anyone would add me as a friend, and the pictures I put up didn't look as pretty. Everyone else knows how to make themselves look like girls in magazines even if they're not that pretty in real life. And anyway, Lucy made me delete my Facebook when I tried to add her as my friend.

"You're too young for that, Juliet!" she said, shaking her head. "You're supposed to be thirteen, you don't need to be doing any of that online crap yet. You're only in the third grade!"

Even when I told her everyone else in third grade was on Facebook, she didn't care.

"Well, everyone else isn't my sister, and you are. Everyone else's mom might not care if their kid is online about to make themselves the next JonBenet Ramsey, but my sister isn't going to be."

I didn't know who that was, but she wouldn't explain when I asked.

"Don't worry about it. The point is, you don't need to do things just because everyone else does them. You be you, Juliet, and let them be them."

"But what if people don't like who I am?" I asked her. "Hardly anyone will play with me, Lucy. They don't let me do what they're doing, or if they're talking and I walk over they stop until I go away. I don't even understand what they're talking about sometimes but if I ask they just say nothing or say go away. I won't have any friends! They think I'm weird. Even my name!"

People talk about my name all the time. They say stuff like where's my Romeo, or I'm not pretty enough for Romeo to like me. One time when Hadley was mad at me she even said I should go drink poison. I didn't get it until I finally asked Lucy, and she said my name is some character off some famous play and Romeo was her boyfriend. She said they were being dumb and I should ignore them, but ignoring people is really hard sometimes.

"They're still making fun of your name?" Lucy huffed out an angry sounding breath, shaking her head. "They probably don't even know it's from a play, they just saw some stupid movie version or a play. Probably a cartoon, at that. Juliet, your name is awesome, it's from Shakespeare, and he was a genius, okay? You tell them your name's been famous for like six hundred years and will be for 600 more, and most of theirs came of crappy reality TV shows."

"Can't I just tell people to call me Julia?" I said hopefully. "There's a girl in Mrs. Miller's class called Julia, no one makes fun of her name."

"No way, Juliet Keller! You're not telling anyone to call you anything but the cool name you've got, and you're going to be proud of it," Lucy said, taking me by the shoulders and looking me real hard in the eyes until I nodded back. "People made fun of my name too, okay? Calling me Peanuts and asking about my closet to Narnia, I love Lucy, all that lame crap. Our last name too, I got all the Helen Keller jokes in the world. But I didn't let it get to me. I'm proud of my name. It's a good one, and our mother gave it to me, just like she gave yours to you. You tell anyone else who makes fun of you that you like your name because your dead mother gave it to you, and that will shut them up, guaranteed."

It shut me up, anyway, because after she said that it kind of made me feel bad. I'd feel too shy to say something like that to someone, and anyway, I didn't even remember our mother. Lucy did though, and she tells me about her sometimes. She says she was pretty and funny and she really loved me a lot, but that just makes me feel even worse because I feel like I should remember my own mom that loved me so much, even if I was only two when she died. Lucy says I should be glad not to remember her because she was really sick and was hurting and it's hard for her to think of that. Still, I feel like my mom would be disappointed at me that I don't remember her. Everyone ought to remember their mom.

Now it's just me and Lucy and our daddy, but really it's Lucy that's around more and takes care of me most of the time. He says she's old enough and responsible enough for that, and if that's her job, my job is to be good and listen to her. He works all the time and when he's home he's usually sleeping, or he's grumpy and wants us to be quiet so he can relax. Lucy says that's because he has to make sure he makes money to take care of us. Sometimes I wonder if he really just doesn't want to be around us though, or maybe he just doesn't want to be around me. I asked Lucy once and she said that wasn't true, but then how come he doesn't hug me or play with me or even hardly smile? She says he misses Mom a lot still even though it's been seven whole years since she died, and he loves me a whole lot but just isn't very good at showing it. She says a lot of men aren't.

Lucy never lies to me but I think maybe she just doesn't know the real truth this time. I think maybe he's mad that our mom is the one who's dead, because if she was as special as Lucy says she was, then he probably wishes he could trade her out for me and make me the one who's dead. Because I know compared to my mom and Lucy, I'm not special at all.

Even though Lucy says people make fun of her, I think maybe she's just being nice. I don't know how people could make fun of her because she's smart and pretty and has tons of friends she's always texting or talking to on the phone. She gets good grades without even hardly trying even though she's in the hard classes and in high school. And she's tall and skinny and with pretty long hair. My hair is short because I got bubble gum stuck in it last year and had to have it cut off, and I'm short and my tummy sticks out a little and I don't have any boobs yet even though some of the girls in my class wear training bras already. And she's good at sooo many things! She's on the volleyball team at school and helps make the yearbook, and she's in chorus and the club you can be in if you make good grades.

I'm really, really proud Lucy is my big sister, and I love her more than anyone else, even our daddy. But sometimes it's hard and I get mad, because I'm not good at anything, not even one little thing, and it's hard when she's so perfect. I was in ballet for a little bit and I quit because I couldn't remember any of the steps and the teacher kept telling me I wasn't straight enough or I was doing my feet wrong and it made me nervous all the time with all the mirrors. Then I tried basketball and I couldn't remember about dribbling and I never made any baskets and I jumped every time the buzzer went off. Then I tried softball but I struck out every single time and I was last one to try to hit every single game. After that Daddy said he was tired of wasting money for me to sign up for sports I wasn't going to keep playing so I couldn't sign up anymore. I don't know why he was mad because he didn't even go watch me, it was always Lucy that took me.

So now I don't do anything but go home after school, and when Lucy has her clubs or sports, I go to watch her. Afterward she brings home friends, and they go off in her room and shut the door and I'm not allowed to bother them. Daddy says that's okay as long as it's not friends who are boys. I feel sad sometimes when I can hear them laughing from behind her door, because I want more than anything to have friends like Lucy and be smart and pretty and cool like Lucy, but I'm just not.

Lucy told me a few times when I tried to tell her how I felt that I shouldn't worry about it. She said I should just play and have fun and be a kid, and things will be better when I'm older. But how can I have fun being a kid when no one wants to play with me, or even sit with me at lunch? How can I have fun when most people make fun of me or ignore me?

But even if I got sad and lonely sometimes, I still felt mostly okay because even if people weren't nice to me at school, Lucy was always nice to me, even if she didn't let me hang out with her and her friends sometimes. I knew I was really, really lucky to have a sister like Lucy, and she wasn't ever going to change.

I thought that, but then, Lucy did.


I didn't know, the first time I saw Demelza Langley, that she would be the person who would change our lives forever. Lucy invited friends over to our house all the time- how could I have known that one girl in particular would make everything so different?

Maybe I should have guessed, though, because Demelza looked different than any teenaged girl I'd ever seen before, or at least the ones that I was used to Lucy taking home. All her clothes were black, from her baggie hooded sweatshirt to her scuffed sneakers, and unlike most of Lucy's friends, she didn't carry around a purse or fiddle constantly with a phone. Her hair was very long and straight and as dark as her clothes, and she so tall and skinny I thought she looked lost in her clothes, almost like a skeleton with hair.

I didn't think she was very pretty. There was something weird about how she looked, especially how white her face was, like she was really tired or sick. She didn't say hi to me right away, and I didn't come forward to shake her hand. I didn't want to get her germs on me, if she was sick.

"Demelza, this is my little sister, Juliet," Lucy announced, nodding towards me. She didn't seem scared of being sick- I noticed she was holding onto the girl's arm when she introduced us, like she thought she might run off or something. "Juliet, this is my friend Demelza."

"I never heard of that name before," I said, kind of impressed by it. "Do people make fun of you for it? People make fun of my name."

Demelza shrugged, not smiling or saying anything back to me. I thought that was kind of rude, but then I remembered she didn't look like she was feeling very good.

"Are you sick?" I asked, taking another step back. "If you're sick, you should go home. You're not supposed to get your germs around people if you're sick."

"Juliet!" Lucy hissed at me, like I was being mean or rude or something.

"What? She looks sick! Look at her face, and she's really-"

For the first time ever, Lucy told me to shut up. Not only that, she said it in a loud, nasty way, a way I'd never heard her talk to me before, and then she put her hand over my mouth so no one would understand me if I said anything else. I couldn't believe it. Lucy had never been like this with me- what made this girl so different, that she would act this mean?

"I'm sorry, Demi," Lucy said to the girl, her hand still over my mouth. "Juliet doesn't mean it. She just says things sometimes, she's just a kid. Don't listen to her."

I did too mean it, and I didn't know what she meant, that I was just a kid. She and this Demelza girl were kids too, even if they were in high school. Lucy still had two whole more years before she was grown up.

"Go do your homework, Juliet," Lucy ordered. She still sounded mad at me, and she still hadn't let go of my mouth. "Demelza and I are hanging out in my room, give us our space, okay? Get yourself a snack."

She finally let me go, turning back to Demelza and linking her arms through hers. I blinked, startled by this change in routine. They didn't look back at me as Lucy led her to her bedroom, whispering and giggling with their heads leaned close together.

"Hey!" I blurted out. "Aren't you and Demelza eating a snack with me too? You always make my snack and eat with me."

Demelza laughed, but it wasn't a laugh that sounded nice. It sounded like the kind the mean kids make at my school when they're making fun of me.

"Yeah, I don't do snack time."

"You're nine years old, Juliet, you can make your own snack now," Lucy snapped. "Leave us be, all right?"

She and Demelza disappeared through her door, shutting it behind them. I stared after them, hurt and surprised. Even when she had friends over, Lucy always helped me with my homework and made my snack, and she usually let me stay near them while they talked about boring stuff or listened to music. I didn't care that they weren't really talking to me or about stuff I knew about, because at least I got to be around them and I felt like I was kind of part of things. But with this Demelza girl, she wouldn't let me join in. She hadn't even talked to me like she liked me.

What made today different? Or was it something about this friend, about this Demelza?

I decided to do what Lucy said and then see if she would let me come stay in her room with them. Maybe she had a bad day, or maybe she was just mad because she thought I was being rude, but would get over it and forgive me. We were sisters, and Lucy always said that was important. She wouldn't leave me out for long.

I waited until I had done most of my homework, what parts of it I knew the answers to, and then brought it up with me to Lucy's room. I waited, trying to hear what they were doing behind the closed door. I didn't hear any movies or music, and they didn't sound like they were talking either. What were they doing, homework? Reading? What was the big deal about me coming in for that?

I thought for a second about knocking, but then decided not to. It didn't seem like Lucy and her friend were doing anything, and besides, it wasn't a bathroom, where stuff happened that was private. So I just reached for the doorknob and turned it, pulling it up while calling out to Lucy at the same time.

"I almost finished my homework, but some of it I don't understa-"

My body jerked to a halt in the doorway, my words stopping as my eyes tried hard to understand and make sense of what they were seeing. My stomach jerked, dropping low in my middle, and I wanted to scream, but my throat felt so frozen up I couldn't speak. I didn't understand what was happening to my sister, just a few feet away from me. It didn't make any sense to me, didn't seem like it could be real, and for several moments I expected my eyes to suddenly see something else, something more normal.

Lucy was lying back on her bed, eyes closed, head tilted back so her jaw stuck up and her neck stretched out, long and straight. She didn't have her shirt on, and even though her bra still has its straps on her shoulders, it was undone in the back so her boobs were hanging out the sides. But what really shocked me was her friend Demelza. Demelza was sitting on top of Lucy's stomach, her legs spread apart like she was sitting in a horse's saddle, and one of her hands was spread out over Lucy's right boob, rubbing hard over her skin in a way that looked to me like it would hurt. She had her face up against Lucy's neck, and when I walked in, she had been licking and kissing on her neck. I could see marks there even from the doorway that I couldn't understand- how could kissing make all those red sports? And then I got it, and I was so horrified that my voice came back, just enough so I could cry out.

"She bit you! Lucy, she bit you! Why are you BITING my sister, stop it, stop!"

Lucy and Demelza went very still, and Demelza jerked her head up, turning it to look over her shoulder at me. Lucy opened her eyes, sitting up so fast she almost knocked Demelza off herself and onto the floor. She grabbed the pillow beside her and covered herself up so I couldn't see her chest anymore, and her face twisted up, angrier than I'd ever seen her. But it wasn't Demelza she was looking at. Lucy was angry with me.

"What the hell, Juliet! What are you doing in here, I told you to leave us alone! Go away, get out of here!"

"God, Lucy, why didn't we lock the door!" Demelza breathed out, sucking her teeth and giving me a mean look too. "What a creep!"

"You hurt her," I said, pushing my chin up and trying to look brave, but my voice shook, and my eyes felt hot with tears. "You were hurting my sister!"

"Juliet, get out of here, didn't you hear me?" Lucy hissed, her eyes getting small in her face in a way I didn't like to see. "Go!"

So I went. I turned around, slamming the door back shut behind me, and ran down the hall and back to the living room, almost tripping over the rug before I threw myself down, face first, on the couch. I squeezed my eyes shut, trying not to cry, but I couldn't stop thinking about Lucy looking at me like that, and all the awful red marks on her neck. I felt my neck get wet and knew I'd started crying after all.

I just couldn't believe it. My sister never yelled like that, and she definitely never yelled at me. I didn't even remember her ever being really mad at me before. And I wasn't the one who'd done anything wrong. I wasn't the one who had hurt her.

Who was this awful Demelza girl anyway? What kind of girl would come in our house and hurt my sister? And she had made Lucy act different, too. She made Lucy ignore me and send me away. She made her get mad and yell at me, and even look at me like she hated me. How could my sister be friends with such an awful person? How could she not even care that she hurt her? What was wrong with her?

Demelza was an awful, awful girl, I told myself, sniffling, as I sat up and wiped at my cheeks and nose. She was scary, and creepy, and mean, and weird too. Why would Lucy like her better than me?

I tried to make sense of what she had been doing, of what I saw. I had never heard of anyone who wasn't a baby bite someone else…but wait! I had!

An image flickered through my mind then of a girl around Lucy's age, a girl I had seen once on a movie that came on TV. I didn't get to watch all of it, because Lucy said it was too scary and it would make me have bad dreams. But I saw part of it, and there had been a girl like Lucy, with red bite marks on her neck. In the movie, a monster had bitten her, a monster that only the girl's friend knew was really not a normal person. Really, the monster was a vampire.

My face flushed as the pieces of the puzzle started to click together in my mind. What if that was it? What if vampires were real- and Demelza was one of them?

I wasn't supposed to use the family desktop computer without someone supervising me, but I didn't care right then. Lucy didn't want to talk to me anyway, and I had to learn about what Demelza was and what she had been doing to her, fast. It was the only way I might be able to help Lucy- maybe even save her life.

I entered the password and logged online to Google, typing "vampire" into its search bar. I think I spelled it wrong but it corrected for me. I always wished my pencils would do that at school. The first link was to a Wikipedia page, so I clicked on it and started skimming through the first few paragraphs. It was using a lot of big words I didn't understand, but what the important thing was the picture illustrating the page, right at the top. It was of a girl laying back in bed, sleeping or maybe dead, and another girl was laying on top of her. The picture said underneath that it was of a vampire.

A thrill of scared satisfaction ran through me. That was what I walked in on between Lucy and Demelza, and here it was again, right there on the page about vampires. Was that what she was trying to do to my sister- kill her, like the girl in the picture?

I read through as quickly as I could, skipping all the words I didn't understand. It said vampires visited loved ones in neighborhoods and caused death. It said vampires were usually pale- like Demelza- and they wore a lot of black- like Demelza. It said they bit people, usually on the neck, and drank their blood.

Like Demelza. That was what she was doing- it had to be the reason for the marks on my sister's neck. She had drank my sister's blood.

I shivered hard, my stomach twisting up until I thought I would be sick. Demelza had tried to kill my sister. Lucy might even be dead already if I hadn't come in and stopped her. And poor Lucy was so nice and friendly to everyone she didn't even know what had happened. She would never think someone could be so awful to her. She was mad at me, when I was the one who saved her life.

But it would be okay. She would know the truth soon, when I showed her what Demelza really was. She would be so glad and so proud of me then.

I smiled, my chest feeling warm and happy with the thought of that. I'd never been able to help Lucy like that before. Maybe this awful vampire girl would end up being a good thing for me. But first, I had to figure out what to do to get rid of her. I had to show Lucy what she was, because it seemed like Lucy didn't even know what she'd done to her. Maybe she put a spell on her like a witch, or maybe Lucy was still so hurt she lost her memory. But what were you supposed to do to be safe from a vampire?

I didn't know from the movie, because Lucy turned it off before the end. So I skimmed the rest of the Wikipedia article quickly, noticing and reading about the pictures of crosses, a fountain of water, and what looked to me like onions. We didn't even have a Bible in the house, and I didn't remember us having any crosses. I thought maybe we could use water until I read that it was holy water, whatever that was. I was pretty sure our water was just plain and not holy, because it just came out of our sink and not a fancy fountain. The onion looking thing was actually garlic, so I thought maybe garlic bread would work, but when I went to look in the kitchen, we didn't have the frozen kind Lucy made sometimes with spaghetti.

I read some more, starting to get worried that maybe we didn't have anything that would get rid of Lucy, or if we did, I might not know if it was right since there weren't any other pictures to look at. But then I found it- the part about how to kill vampires. It said "staking or piercing the skin of the chest, usually with wood."

I never heard of someone having wood piercings in their ears, and I didn't have pierced ears yet anyway. Lucy did, but she was still in her room with Demelza, and I couldn't check if she had any wood earrings. What if I didn't have any of what I needed to stop Demelza after all?

Starting to feel really scared, I went back to google and typed in "staking chest vampire." Right when I saw the pictures I felt better, because now it made more sense. They showed vampires getting stabbed in the chest with something that looked like a wood knife. It wasn't earrings at all. Daddy had some knives that had handles that felt like wood to me- that would probably be enough to work on Demelza. Anyway, I had to try fast, before she got too much of a chance to bite Lucy again.

Shutting off the computer, I hurried into the kitchen, scanning its counter for the block that held our dad's sharpest knives. I pulled out the longest, heaviest one, running my hand over its wooden handle. This should be good enough. This should stop Demelza.

Wrapping my fingers tight around the knife's handle, I almost tiptoed down the hall, back to Lucy's room. I stopped in front of the door, listening hard, but I couldn't hear anything except some groaning noises, like someone might make if they were having a bad dream. Panic flew through me then- had Demelza already hurt her too much? Was she dying- was I already too late?

I didn't wait anymore. I knew I couldn't afford to. I tried to turn the door, but Lucy or Demelza had locked it since I left. Nerves replaced with determination, I remembered then when I saw Lucy use a credit card to unlock the bathroom door once and stuck the knife's blade, jiggling it until the lock clicked out of place and the door popped open. Flushed with pride at myself, I walked through.

I saw right away that I was just in time. Demelza was laying on top of Lucy again on the bed, almost exactly like she had been before. She was kissing her face, touching her all over her chest. Was she checking Lucy's heartbeat, like the doctor? Did she think she was about to die? Had she bitten her again? Lucy needed my help, now!

I threw myself forward onto the bed, stretched out over Demelza's back so she grunted, surprised. I guess they were too busy to hear or see me coming in. Lucy yelped, sounding muffled and in pain from me putting my weight on her too with Demelza's, but it didn't matter, I wouldn't be on her long. And anyway if she could make noise, she was still alive, and I still had time to help her.

Demelza swore at me, trying to buck me off her like a horse, but I held on tight, wrapping one of my arms around her neck. She rolled off of Lucy to one side of the bed, pinning my arm under her since it was still around her neck, but it was okay, because my other arm was free, and it was the arm holding the knife. With Demelza laying on her back, her chest was open and in my reach, just like Wikipedia had said I needed.

So I did it. Even when my sister screamed my name, even when her hand reached out and snatched for my arm, I dodged her fingers and brought the knife down, hard as I could, right in the middle of Demelza's chest. Right where I guessed was her heart.

I thought there would be dust, or bones, or maybe Demelza's body would wrinkle up like a raisin. That was what Wikipedia had talked about, what it said people believed would happen when you destroyed a vampire. But it didn't happen with Demelza. Instead, there was blood, so much blood. All over her chest and stomach, spraying up on my face and arms, coming up out of her mouth and over her lips and chin. Instead there were Demelza's eyes, big and scared and shiny with pain, and her body shaking while her face got whiter than I'd ever seen in a person before. Instead there was Lucy, screaming out my name and Demelza's until they didn't sound like words anymore, clawing at Demelza's arms and crying so hard she was gagging on her own tears.

I thought I had come to save my sister from her destruction or death, that I was the only one who saw Demelza for the danger that she was. I've been wrong so many times in my life, over so many things. I should have realized that when it came to something so important, I would be wrong about that too.


As I said, it's been ten years now. I still don't understand nearly as much about life as I would like, but I can look back on that day and see things plainly for what they were. I was a child, desperate for inclusion and approval, so lacking of basic knowledge that I made a terrible and fatal mistake. My sister was no clueless victim slated for death or immortality, but only a young teenager, given simultaneously too much responsibility and too much freedom for her age as she experimented with her sexuality.

And Demelza? The worst part of all of this is that even now, I don't know who Demelza Langley was, and I will never have the opportunity to learn. She's long gone, and even at sixteen years old, already had so few meaningful relationships and connections that no outcry was made over her death, even by those supposedly responsible of caring for her. All I know of Demelza now is that she was a human being, flesh, bone, and beating heart as much as my sister and me, a young girl I destroyed in my foolish pride and fear. All I know is that she mattered to my sister in a way no one else had before, and I took that away from her forever.

Nothing much happened to me, after what I did. I wasn't arrested or put into a juvenile detention center, or given any real punishment at all. I was too young to be considered legally responsible for my actions, and besides, once I was out of my shock enough to explain myself and my actions, it became obvious to the police and other authorities involved that it had all been a serious of misunderstandings, what I overheard one cop actually referred to as an "accident more than murder." It was no accident, of course, but the truth is that none of them knew what to do with me, under the circumstances, or what the Demelza's death could be legally considered. I'm over eighteen now, so any files about me would be sealed now as a juvenile record, and I don't care to look to see what they might have said regardless.

Lucy and I didn't stay in the same house, afterward. My dad sent me to live with his mother several states away, saying I needed someone who could be more present with me, but what I think he really meant was someone who could keep an eye on me at all times. Lucy could have stayed with him, but she chose not to, and I couldn't blame her. How could she want to stay in the same house where her friend or girlfriend (I never did learn exactly what Demelza was to her, in her mind) was murdered? Instead, she stayed with a distant aunt of ours until she was seventeen, then applied for an early graduation and started college almost a whole year early. I've heard that she got her bachelor's and master's both and has just started a job as a school guidance counselor.

I hope Lucy has found a way to be happy now, on her own, so long after everything that happened. I hope, but I have no way of asking her. She hasn't spoken to me since that night. Not once. Not one word.

It's a terrible irony, though one I no doubt deserve, that in trying so hard to impress my sister and at last be needed by her, instead I forever severed her love and presence in my life. It was a sentence far worse than any consequence the law could have chosen to give me, and one that is far more painful.

I don't try to contact her. I would never wish to do anything that might add to the pain I've already caused her. If Lucy wanted to talk to me, she would find a way to do it; I'm an active account on most social media sites, and she knows our grandparents' number and address. But still, as much as I no doubt don't deserve it, I still hope with everything that's in me that one day, Lucy will be ready to speak to me, even if she can never look me in the face again.

So I tell my story now, not for me, not even for Demelza, who is long past anything I can do for her, but for Lucy, in hopes that she may one day see and understand. I love and respect you still, my sister, if I still have that right to make that claim, more so now than ever. Because now, I want to know you and understand you, even more than I want you to know and understand me. Please, Lucy, if you read this, know I am so very sorry, and I am ready at last to hear your side of our story.