Don’t Look Back, You’re Not going that Way
The full story can be found here
Chapter 8: At Age Sixteen
Hatred burned her insides as Bartholomew clung to life. “You’ve made a mistake. He will never forgive you for this,” he choked out, knife still embedded into his heart. “Tell him the truth, tell him you killed me,” he said. “I dare you.”
Tears fell down her face, falling into her lap and mixing with the droplets of blood that had splattered onto her legs from when she had stabbed Bartholomew.
“You’ve killed me twice now,” Bartholomew said.
“No,” she said quietly with a definitiveness she didn’t feel. “This is the first time I’ve killed you.” Unspoken was the defensive ‘it wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t driving the car. I didn’t put you in the coma.’ The very act of saying that would by its nature repudiate those words.
“Lie to yourself all you want. We both know it’s your fault.”
Unbidden, unwanted the last horrible memory of when her whole family had been under the same roof flashed into Kara’s mind. She would never forget the day her entire world, everything she had ever known, had been pulled out from under her. It had been her 16th birthday.
“I don’t like it,” Kara whined. “It looks like it will break down any second. Therefore I think I should get a different one.” She looked meaningfully at the new cars on the other side of the car lot.
“Honey, those are too expensive,” Kara’s mother, Alethea, said. “And besides this one is…It’s good.”
“How would you know,” Kara muttered petulantly. “You don’t know anything about cars.”
“Well…I…” Alethea looked at Kara’s father, Cassius. “A little help, Cass?” she implored.
“Just pick one,” he said, with a very forced smile. Then he muttered obviously to himself, though loud enough for both Kara and her mom to hear, “I didn’t want to get her a car in the first place. She shouldn’t be driving.”
Alethea, frowning, pulled Kara’s father aside and said in what was meant to be a whisper. “Cass, this is a big day for Kara, try and be supportive,” she whispered.
“I don’t think she needs to be driving anywhere,” Cassius said, crossing his arms. There was a strangely serious expression on his face.
“I’ve never understood your position on this,” Alethea said, her eyebrows drawing together. “You’re fine with things much more dangerous than driving.”
“Like what?” Cassius said. His voice was obviously meant to be playful, but it sounded defensive.
“Like letting her fly all the way to New York by herself to attend a summer camp.”
“Completely different,” Cassius muttered.
Alethea raised an eyebrow and cast him a disapproving and questioning look. “Explain to me the driving thing.”
Cassius didn’t respond. Instead he clenched his jaw and looked away from Alethea, staring moodily into the distance, obviously thinking about something. Eventually he sighed and said to Alethea, “You’re right of course.”
Then he walked back to Kara, who had been pretending she couldn’t hear the conversation. “Now,” her father said to Kara, with a convincingly genuine enthusiastic smile. “Let get this car so we can get your birthday dinner.”
“I bet it won’t even turn on,” Kara said in a half real half fake pouting voice.
Her father smiled and held out his hand to the car-salesman, who handed him the key. Her father took it, saying, “It works fine.” He threw the key casually into the air, caught it and then slid into the front seat. He put the key into the engine and turned it on.
There was a high-pitched sound that could only be described as a whining sound a dog sometimes makes. “See, it doesn’t want to bought,” Kara said.
Her father, frowning, pressed gently on the brake. The whining turned back into a soft humming sound – the sound of a working car. “You just have to take it easy with her,” her father said, patting the car fondly. “Be careful when using the accelerator.”
“So?” the car-salesman asked, bobbing his head nervously. “Are you going to buy it?”
“Let’s go inside and talk?” Cassius turned off the car and lead the way to the office.
“Ah, Cassius!” a man said, rushing over to Cassius. “There’s a, uh, problem…You know that thing eight years ago?”
“Not now,” Cassius said from the corner of his mouth.
“Hey, come on now. I helped you and now I’m being steam-rolled for it. You have to help me. I’m being questioned about the damage to that lamppost as well.”
“That was eight years ago,” Cassius said stiffly, his eyes flashing shiftily towards Alethea and Kara.
“It’s still haunting me. Now, I’m not trying to pressure you or nothing, but if you don’t help me I may have to reveal the truth. Not to hurt you of course, but…well it’s for my own good-”
“Fine,” Cassius said, through gritted teeth. “I’ll be back,” he said to Kara and Alethea. He hurried off.
“No, I’m going with you,” Alethea said, suspicion on her face. She hurried after the two men, pausing only to say to Kara, “We’ll be right back, honey.”
There was a weird tension after Kara’s parents returned. Her father’s face was pale he kept glancing at Alethea who was resolutely ignoring him. Kara looked between her parents, and tried to ignore the heavy atmosphere. In an attempt to break it, she said, “Thanks for the car mom and dad. I can’t wait to drive it.”
“Of course, honey,” her mother said at the same time as her father said, “Of course sweetie.”
The tension immediately returned as Kara’s mother glared at Cassius who looked away. His hand was shaking slightly as he opened the driver’s side door to Kara’s car.
“Don’t you dare!” Alethea exclaimed, slamming the car door shut before Cassius could get into the driver’s seat. “There’s no way in hell that I am letting you drive my daughter anywhere. Give me the key.”
Even though Cassius was much taller than Alethea, Alethea seemed to tower over him as he meekly handed over the key to Kara’s new car.
Though Kara had wanted to be the first one to drive her car, she got into the passenger seat without complaint. She and Alethea drove back to the house in complete silence.
When they arrived back at home and parked the new-old car in the driveway, Alethea told Kara to go to her room because she needed to talk with Cass.
“Can I have the key to my car?” Kara asked quickly, knowing that her mother and father would busy talking for a long while and therefore this was her only chance to get her keys for a while.
Cassius hovered near the door, move from foot to foot. He kept glancing at the door and then at his wife and Kara. “Don’t even think about it, Cass,” Alethea threatened.
“Mom?” Kara said timidly.
“What?” Alethea looked at Kara in confusion. “What? Oh, right. Keys” Distractedly, Alethea looked around for the keys before realizing it was in her hand. She placed it into Kara’s hand and then waited, obviously waiting or Kara to go to her room.
Kara sighed and headed up the stairs, turning around briefly to see Alethea drag Cassius into the kitchen. When she heard them start to converse, she turned around because of course there was no way that Kara was going to stay in her room. She crept down the stairs and stood within hearing of the conversation in the kitchen.
“What the hell was he talking about?!” her mother demanded.
“Please, calm down. It was nothing. I told you that.”
“Now I know you lied about what happened that night, eight years ago. So, for God’s sake, Cassius tell me the truth or I will take Kara and walk out that door.”
“Okay, okay,” Cassius said. “We had just had an argument about picking up Kara; you said I never did anything and if I didn’t shape up you’d leave me.”
Kara, who stood frozen close enough to hear what was going on in the kitchen, but far away enough to be obscured by the partly closed sliding door to the kitchen.
“So I left early to get her. But I…I didn’t go to pick her up immediately. I mean it was way too early, Kara wouldn’t have wanted to leave her friend’s house yet…so I…I went to the bar and I-”
“You drove our daughter while you were drunk?!” her mother’s voice rose with every word.
“Please, keep your voice down unless you want Kara to hear us,” her father said in a placating voice.
“Tell me what happened in that car, Cassius,” her mother said in such a dangerous voice that goose-bumps erupted on Kara’s arms.
Cassius sighed in an exhausted defeated way and then began to talk. Alethea listened without interrupting.
As Kara’s father recounted the true story to her mother, Kara could literally see the whole event flashing before her eyes.
She placed her hand on a nearby bookshelf to steady herself as what had happened 8 years ago flashed through her mind.