We Told Six Lies(10)

My mouth met yours.

You wrapped your arms around my neck. I kissed you gently at first, my stomach clenched with nerves, my skin electric from the feel of you so close. From the taste of you. Your tongue touched mine, and my body pressed into you. You were there to meet every part of me, your hands moving into my hair, tugging. My hands moving lower, grasping. Our breath came faster, and our fingers became desperate there in the dark with the sound of those buzzing bulbs. With the smell of the oiled tracks and the perfume of your hair.

Our kiss deepened, and then suddenly, you stepped back.

You caught your breath, and I caught the conflict in your eyes.

“My turn,” you said, and I could hear the playful smile in your voice.

But there was something else there, too.


A guy and his girlfriend rolled closer, and you crouched down.

I watched you, bewildered. Still feeling you on my lips, against my body. I may have frozen after you pulled away from me.

You waited until they’d passed and then drew your finger up the guy’s spine.

“Hey,” he yelled. “What the hell?”

He reached back and grabbed at you. He must have gotten your shirt, because a surprised sound escaped your mouth. The guy leaped out of the car and blindly reached for you with his other hand.

I stepped in front of him. “No. Get back in the car.”

He narrowed his eyes, making out the height of me. The width of me.

“Ash,” the girl called from the retreating car. “Get back in.”

The guy glanced over his shoulder and then said, “Carnie trash,” before jogging after the car. The lights buzzed, and I saw the guy in detail—the leather jacket he wore, the backward hat, the designer jeans…the confidence that said he came from money. A confidence easily recognized by people who had little of it.

I turned back to you, ready to laugh, but you were staring at your feet.

“Hey,” I said. “What’s wrong? He scare you?”

Your eyes rose to mine. “What? No,” you said. And then, “Let’s get out of here.”

But I pulled you into a corner, anyway, sensing something was off. Worried you regretted kissing me. “Did you know that guy?”

You shook your head.

“Was it what he said?”

You paused, and I thought maybe you’d confess a secret, but then you smiled in the dark and tilted your head and said, “I’m just messing with you. I wanted to see if you’d care if I was upset.”

“Course I’d care.” I returned your smile, but I saw through your act. That guy had bothered you, and for a moment there—just for a moment—I’d seen Molly uncut. I sometimes glimpsed a layer beyond what you showed the rest of the world, but now I’d seen your core.

And I wanted more.

“You like protecting people, don’t you?” You laid your hand on my chest. “It makes you feel connected to the person you’re defending.”

I didn’t respond.

“That’s so messed up, Cobain.” You moved your hand to my cheek. “What happened to you?”

I’m glad you moved your hand away from my chest, because if you hadn’t, my heart would have clawed its way out just to be held by you before it stopped beating.

You looked into my eyes and narrowed your own.

Your playfulness fell away, your false confidence crumpled at our feet, and you leaned in close. I wrapped my arms around your waist, my fingers interlocking so you couldn’t escape me. So you wouldn’t change your mind.

But you weren’t going anywhere.

Only closer.

And closer.

Until a man beat something against the walls and yelled, “If there’s anyone back here, you better get out before I call security.”

As we ran, Molly’s laughter ringing above the screams, I thought— Goddamn it.

And, What security?

And, I’ll kiss that girl again if it kills me.

If it kills us both.

When we left the carnival, you gave our bracelets to two kids sticking their noses between the chain-link fence, their wide, eager eyes watching the rides rotate. They looked at you with such adoration, but you walked away before they could even thank you. You wouldn’t even look at me. Most likely, I thought as we walked up the hill, you were afraid I’d discover you had a heart.


I take my dad’s car and drive straight to Leesport.

It isn’t difficult to find the strip mall where her car had been discovered. When I see the cops, my entire body feels ready to detonate.

There—parked in front of an abandoned fabric store—is Molly’s Toyota Camry. Four police officers stand around it, and as I watch, a German Shepherd leaps into the vehicle. My stomach drops as the cadaver dog searches for the smell of a corpse.

I glance around, searching for Detectives Hernandez and Tehrani. I don’t see them, which makes me wonder where they did go. Did they rush off to question a new suspect?

Worried the other cops will see me, I pull away, my stomach threatening to empty itself as I drive. I feel helpless. Small. I have to do something. I have to go through my head and figure out who, if someone did take Molly or hurt her in some way, it could have been.

As I drive, I make a list of names.

And when I get home, I put those names on paper.

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