The Baby Killer

"I did something terrible," I whispered desperately. I couldn't hold the secrets in me any longer. Cam and I had made our way back downstairs at around 4 in the morning, when the music below was turned down to a whisper and most of the party guests were passed out. 

I hugged my knees to my chest, Cam silent next to me. 

"I was so stupid," I went on. "We thought we were invincible, street lights passing over us in a blur like the beer that was passed's all still burned in my mind so distinctly. The lights, that is, flashing one by one overhead, like I had to outrun them. There were so Many of them, they went on forever."

"What do you mean, the lights?"  Cam asked almost inaudibly.

I opened my mouth to speak and suddenly the door burst open. Startled, I threw my hands up in surprise as an auburn-haired girl whisked into my ugly yellow bedroom, leaping through the air and landing between us on the bed. She snarled at me and pulled a short paring knife from her sleeve, then turned on Cam. She raised her arm and brought it down on his chest hard, planting the knife in as deep as it would go. Cam let out the most horrifying scream I had ever heard and she stabbed the knife into his bleeding chest over and over until I finally got it together and pulled her off him. By then he wasn't moving at all, propped at a strange, unnatural angle against my headboard.

I looked into her almond-shaped, molten amber eyes and began to cry. "Meghan, why did you do that?" I sobbed. 

"Because I can," she said. Her voice sounded the same. The way she said it had that innocent quality to it, just like always. She sounded more like she was suggesting that a teacher made a mistake rather than as if she had just stabbed the absolute fuck out of my friend. 

Yet i couldn't get past how she still had the freckle above her right eyebrow which she hated but all the guys thought was cute. And I couldn't believe she was here, on my bed in Princeton, New Jersey, fiddling with a little murder weapon.

"I've missed you, Shelby Hamilton," Meghan said casually, leaning back on her palms.

"Oh God, I've missed you, t--" 

Then, with the most cold, malicious look in her eyes, she lunged at me with the knife.


I sprung up in bed, heart racing and a sheen of sweat covering my face. Next to me on the far end of the bed, Cam was breathing softly with his back to me, still asleep. Yellow light was filtering through my window, and the clock on my bedside table read 11:17.

I held my head in my hands, trying not to make a sound as hot tears started to trickle down my face. I forgot to take my sleeping pills last night. Those pills that Dr. Shelton supplied to me for a year without question, the ones that blocked out all dreams, down to every last horrible one. 

Ever since I tried to kill myself, the prescription quantity was lowered so that even if I took the whole bottle, I probably wouldn't die. Shelton wanted me to come see her weekly after my little "stunt," but I was glad my parents and I both agreed on skipping the psychiatrist this time around. She didn't even help me much, she was mostly just keeping my prescriptions rolling: sleep pills once every night, anxiety pills twice a day three times a week, and hormone pills to keep my crazy, traumatized teenage soul under control.

Cam rolled over and sighed. "What's wrong?" he asked with his eyes still closed.

I stood up quickly and turned my back to him. "Nothing," I shut him out. "My allergies are acting up." 

He stretched his arms out and yawned, then fell back on his pillow with a plop. "Never heard that one before..." he muttered.

I shot my most deadly glare at him, even though I couldn't help but feel relief when I saw that he was free of blood and stab wounds. "You're obnoxious. Go back to sleep." 

He laughed, unfazed. "And you're really weird, but I'll take you up on that. I'm tired." 

I took a deep breath and wiped my face. I didn't want to get up and kept glancing at my door, half expecting Meghan to come storming in at any moment.

The silence was cut in half by Cam's small, groggy voice. "What time is it, anyway?" he asked, rolling over to face me. 

"11:20, now," I muttered after checking the clock. 

He sat up. "Wait. Like...wait. Are you sure?" 

I picked up the clock to show him. "Uh, yes. I'm rather sure. Why? It's not like we have school anymore." 

He scowled and jumped off the bed, digging through his duffel bag. "Shit, I had to be at work at eleven!" Cam said, pulling on a blue work shirt. 

I raised an eyebrow. "That's not your Waffle House uniform..." I noted. 

He pulled on a matching visor and ran into my walk-in closet to change his pants. Thank god he spared me that much. 

I fell back on the bed, trying to catch my breath. I swear, it was like Meghan was right here... My heart ached, whether it was from stress or longing for my best friend, I don't know. 

Cam appeared out of the closet, hopping on one foot to slide his shoe on. "I work three jobs, Shelb," he remarked. "This is my first day at the golf course, and I'm starting off the summer terribly." 

"Three jobs??" I gaped. "I've never even worked one job, you're crazy." 

He shrugged with his back to me. "I imagine that your parents aren't abusive meth heads and can hold a job, so why would you need one?" 

His voice was almost spiteful, but he turned around and gave me a look of sympathy. "Although I know your life hasn't been easy." 

Okay, so I'd opened up to him about my not-so-attentive mother and verbally abusive, but otherwise dismissive father since I found out about his less-than-appealing home life. 

"Yeah," I agreed, following him out of the room. "I'd like to believe that you and I have two different brands of terrible families. At least I have Nick, though." 

Truthfully, my brother had made my life a hell of a lot easier than it would have been if I were stuck in another rehab center. I can't say he was there for me all the time, but he was never absent. He may have come and gone from school to parties and whatever he did outside the Hamilton Manor of Purchased Affection, but he was aware of me, made sure I got where I needed to go safely, ate dinner with me from time to time. The smile on his face lacked the absence that Sheri's did, and when he spoke to me, his tone was never condescending like Lloyd's. 

Cam peered desperately out the window in the foyer. "Can you drive me to the Seaview Golfcourse? Do you know where it is?" 

I glanced at my pink toenails on the hardwood floor. "Sorry, driving's not really on the lesson plan for this year. Or any year, for that matter." 

"You don't know how to drive?" he asked. 

"Oh, I learned how." I avoided his eyes, taking a sudden interest in the staircase banister. "I just choose not to." 

He tapped his foot impatiently, although I don't think he knew he was doing it, exactly. "Well, could you choose to, just for today? I'm already late as it is." 

My face burned red. "Maybe Lauren can drive you... I'll see if she's up..." 

Before he could say anything, I raced up the stairs and burst into the blue room, where I saw Lauren on the bed, making out with a boy with particularly red hair. 

Lauren nearly jumped out of her skin when she saw me, and Oliver's face turned ten shades of the deepest reds. 

"Holy fucking shit!" I said, trying to hide my smile. "You guys are cute together!" 

Lauren tried to hide her smirk and Oliver just stared at his hands. I shook my head. 

"What do you want, Shelby? We're busy," she said flirtatiously. 

I snorted. "Yeah, kay. Oliver, did you drive here?" 

He nodded. 

"Can Cam use your Jeep to get to work?" 

He nodded again and tossed the keys at me. I laughed and closed the door firmly on the way out.

I leaned over the banister, giddy at the sight of my best friend getting back together (as far as I knew) with my other best friend's best friend. 

"Oliver says you can take his car!" I shouted to Cam, who was pacing wildly across my floor. He was on the phone, probably calling in to say he'd be late. 

He hung up the phone and I tossed him the keys. 

"Thanks!" he yelled, and it was as if the totally awkward moment from a minute before had been nothing. Like it was simply part of a dream.

"We're going to Narnia next Friday! You're gonna teach me that song!" I said before the door swung closed. 

I swear I heard him shout "Yeah right!" but I didn't care. Last night was euphoric, and I didn't want to let a nightmare change that. 


Has something ever happened to you that was so brilliant that you wanted to simply run around and tell everyone? Better yet, you wanted to scream it, post it all over the Internet, rent a jet and fly it through the sky? Something like "I just spent an entire night hanging out with a guy that I thought I hated but after being chased by his crazy step-father armed with a baseball bat and a juicy case of withdrawal I realized that he may not be as bad as I thought! And we're actually kind of best friends now because he comes to my house when my brother throws wild parties every weekend and we found a secret attic in my giant house and he played Moonlight Sonata on an old piano and it was the best moment of my life!"? Well, that's how I felt and I couldn't tell them because then they'd want to go up to the secret attic and I couldn't let that happen. That was a sacred place.

We sat on each of the three seats in the upstairs living room; I on the love-seat, Lauren on the L-shaped couch, and Oliver sprawled on the armchair. Silent.

Minutes passed by without a word, and soon it started to feel like an interrogation rather than three friends hanging out. Or maybe it was two friends and a stranger. Two friends and an ex-boyfriend. Two lovers and an unwelcome Shelby? Two friends and an unwelcome ex? Oh dear, the tension was palpable. 

I sipped my coffee. It burned and tasted like gasoline. "This tastes like shit," I said finally, cutting the awkward silence. 

"It's not my fault your coffee sucks," Lauren smirked. She hadn't stopped smirking since I caught her sucking Oliver's face in my home. 

I stuck my tongue out at her. "It's not my fault all coffee tastes like shit." I put six sugars, creamer and milk in the damned thing and I still hated it. 

I glanced at Oliver, who was usually incredibly loose and effervescent. "You look like we're holding you captive in my lovely abode. Would you like food? I can give you food if you'd like." 

Technically he was being held captive, because Cam had his car and he was virtually stuck here, but it's not like we were going to eat him alive or something. Although, at this point cannibalism would be more enjoyable than sitting in a boring mansion in the middle of the woods. 

He still looked incredibly uncomfortable. "Does she know about us? Like, did you tell her everything?" he asked Lauren. 

She shrugged. "Shelby," said Lauren. "This is Oliver. You may know his as Cam's best friend but he was also my boyfriend for three years. I'm sure he knows absolutely nothing about you because y'all haven't had a particularly in-depth conversation any of the time we've hung out." I laughed at the irony; he was the one that called the EMS, thus saving my pathetic life. I think he knew a few things about me. "I broke up with him and you just caught me making out with him. This has been incredibly awkward for the three of us, even though you seem rather excited. I'm confused. I should go." 

Without another word, she ducked out of the room. I glanced at Oliver, then at the door, then back at Oliver. His eyes were wide, and both of our jaws were dropped to the floor. 

"I think I love her," he stated, wide eyed. 

I blinked. "I'm sorry?" 

"I think I love Lauren Merklov." 

I nodded slowly, with my fist under my chin. "Perhaps you should tell her that," I suggested unsurely. 

He shook his head. "She doesn't love me anymore. She used to. Now she doesn't." 

It was easy to tell by his staccato that he wasn't good with confrontation, nor talking about his feelings. I did admired his confiding in me, considering he didn't know me well. We'd hung out a couple of times with Cam, but never alone. 

He really was a nice guy, I had to admit. He was sweet. "I'll go talk to her," I told him earnestly, pushing off the love-seat. 

Lauren was in the tea room, pouring questionable liquid from a flask into a tea cup. I sure hoped she wiped it out first, because those things were dusty. The shattered teacup from last night was still on the floor. Lauren took a shot from the teacup. 

"I shouldn't drink this early," she muttered, shaking her head. Her mouth was turned down in a worried scowl, which was weird because she was just smiling a minute ago. She'd seemed proud that she got caught kissing her ex.

I took the teacup gingerly in one hand, the flask in the other. "You shouldn't be drinking at all. For one, it's illegal. And it's also really bad for you." 

She heaved a huge sigh. "I'm so confused anymore. I shouldn't have kissed him, now he's stuck on me again." 

I scooted closer to her on the floral couch, arm around her shoulder. "Well, you seemed pretty into him. Why not give it another shot?" 

"Because I'm no good for him!" she said into her hands. "He needs to be with someone who loves him more than they love vodka. I get so caught in the moment, I forget that I'm not invincible." 

I pressed my lips together for a second before saying, "Is that why you broke up with him? You think you're not good enough for him? That's such bullshit, Lauren!"

"I'm not as innocent as everyone wants me to be, you know. It's not bullshit if you know me." She unbuckled the bag that she was wearing over her shoulder, pulling a book out.

She started flipping pages and I realized it was the yearbook. 

"I do know you, though," I insisted. I'd spent most of my time with her everyday for the past month, even more time than I'd spent with Cam. "You're quirky and sweet and petite, you like to drink and to party but you're not a bad person!" 

She shook her head and showed me one of the "Autograph" pages, where you get your classmates to sign. There was only one not on that page, no name, just messy, boyish scrawl in blue pen. I read aloud, "Have a shitty summer, baby killer... What?" 

I could tell Lauren was trying not to look hurt, but her eyes were shiny trying to hold back tears. 

"Who the hell wrote this?" I demanded, intending to find him and stake him. 

"I don't know," she muttered, "but it doesn't matter. If I had actually let people sign it there would have been more." 

I took the yearbook from her hands and started flipping through pages. There were no other signatures except for that one. My heart sank. 

"Why would they call you a baby killer? Isn't that what some people used to call Vietnam War veterans after they came home? You're not a Vietnam War veteran, are you?" I joked, but she didn't even smile. 

"No, seriously. They're right, because last October I got pregnant. Then, like, word got out and freaked out because I wasn't ready to be a mom and my body is not healthy and I'm addicted to alcohol." 

I glanced at her perfectly flat stomach, trying to picture it holding a baby. It was really weird. Like, you always hear about teen pregnancies in tv shows and at school, but when it's someone that you're best friends with it's totally different. 

"So, did you..." I trailed off, not really sure of what I was about to ask. 

She shrugged. "I got an abortion, and everyone hates me for it. And usually I'd be like 'Well, fuck them, let them make their own choices blah blah blah,' but I was already feeling plenty guilty about it as it was." 

"What did Oliver say?" I asked, and I wished I hadn't because as soon as I said it Lauren started to cry. 

"He said he supported everything I did, and would help raise it if I kept it," she said as if it was the worst thing in the world. "He's just so perfect and there I was, fooling around with other guys at parties every weekend!" 

I made a face, trying not to seem insensitive but it didn't work. "You cheated on him?"

She nodded. "Yeah, except then I didn't think it was cheating because I never had any sex and I was drunk, but those aren't excuses. That's why I broke up with him." 

I stared at her, hot tears streaming down her bunny-slope nose. 

"Everyone knows I'm the school slut, except for you up until now. I literally have no other friends." 

My heart sank. "I'm sorry," I muttered. I hated everybody, and there was even a little resentment in me for her not telling me sooner. I'd been trying to pry this out of her for weeks and now she just laid all the cards on the table for me. It was bittersweet, really. 

I should have told her right then and there the real reason I was in Princeton, but I just couldn't. I was a coward. 
♠ ♠ ♠
I apologize for the suck that is this chapter. I may or may not go back and fix it; I've been going through a creative dry spell...writing, drawing, music. It's aggravating! :/