Why the Bees Sting by R.E Harper

I got into my car, and I just began to drive. I didn’t know where I was going but I couldn’t stop. I needed to get away. I needed to escape from it all, to get as far as possible from what had happened only a few hours before. All of a sudden I arrive outside my house; I never knew this is where I was heading until I got here. I don’t get out; I just sit here with the engine running feeling numb. My head turns and my eyes fall upon the crumpled piece of paper lying on the passenger seat then I begin to sob. A few moments later, I hear a tap at my window and see that my mother is looking at me, her face full of concern. Concern that I don’t deserve. “What’s wrong darling?” she asks, “You are back early.” I have no idea what to tell her; how can I confess that I killed someone? She’d never believe me; I can barely believe it myself, but I know it’s true because I saw her lifeless body sprawled out in front of me; I felt the painful silence as I checked her pulse and I

Tracey Stephenson was my best friend. Right from elementary school we were inseparable, ever since she sat down next to me and offered me some potato chips. Then six years later came an event that changed everything. We had begun to notice boys and it seemed to us at the time that they were the centre of the universe. If we weren’t talking about boys; we were looking at boys. Everything we did was to try was with the ultimate aim of impressing them or attracting their attention. Anyway, one night we’d been invited to Eva Comordre 15th birthday party.  It was a pretty big deal because she was a semi popular girl at a high school. It didn’t even matter that had said she was only inviting us because her mum was friends with my mum and she’d forced into it. The point was that we knew all the cool people at school were going to be there including James Carmichael. He was the boy I was going to marry someday. He was just perfect with chiselled cheekbones, wavy short blonde hair and an air of confidence that made him look like a rockstar instead of a high school student.

That night I put on my nicest mint green dress, painted my face with make up and straightened my hair. I was really hoping that James Carmichael would really notice me that time. I mean it wasn’t like he ignored me while we were school. He was always polite, smiled at me and said hi, but I don’t think he ever saw me as anything much except another student. The party was in full swing. Tracey and I had arrived together, but she had gone to get us some drinks from the kitchen. I felt awkward and out of place by myself, but I tried to take deep breathes and confidently walked around like I belonged. After ten minutes had passed I was beginning to get worried about Tracey, she wasn’t the sort to hang about while in the middle of doing something so I ventured into the kitchen. That’s when I saw it or rather saw them. There they were James Carmichael; my future husband wrapped around my best friend Tracey Stephenson. “HOW COULD YOU!” I screamed loudly and they both broke about. Perhaps I should have stayed to find out more, but all I could see was red so I turned and ran out. I sobbed all the way home that night bitter thoughts of betrayal flooding my senses.

I never spoke to Tracey again after that, I never offered her so much as a hello, no matter how many times she rang me to apologise and from that day on I made her life a living hell. I made friends with one of the popular girls and we would make fun of her together. I wanted to hurt her, make her feel as bad as I had felt. Wanted everyone to know that she was boyfriend stealing backstabbing bitch!!

A few years later when I got accepted to Brown University I was ecstatic. Ecstatic that is until I found out that Tracey was also going too. I was livid; out of all the university there are in the country she ended up deciding to go to the exact same one as me. Naturally, we ended up living in the same halls of residence. I mean that’s how unfair life is, isn’t it? Of course I let all the other girls in our halls know about how she stole my crush, how she was a boyfriend stealing bitch who stabs her friends in the back so nobody ever really went near her.

Earlier today, we had a meeting in halls of residence. The Easter holidays were approaching and there were some last-minute notices to go out. All of us were there except Tracey. I was instructed to go and get her, and my protests fell on deaf ears so I had no choice. I headed towards him room with the intention of saying as little as possible. When I go to her dorm room, I found the door ajar so without waiting for an invitation I pushed it. The door swung open and that’s when I saw her. Her body spread out in the middle of the floor still and lifeless; her head at an odd angle and her face buried in the carpet. An empty drug bottle was next to her right hand.

I froze; I didn’t know what to do. I just stared at her for a few moments before my senses kicked in then I ran forward and turned her over but one glance at her face told me everything I needed to know; she was dead. I couldn’t do anything at first; I could barely breathe and for a split second I considered running. Leaving her there for somebody else to find and to deal with, but hand shaking I reached into my pocked and pulled out my cell phone. It was the first time I’ve ever had to dial 9-1-1. Once I explained to them what had happened, they assured me an ambulance was on the way and I hung up. Debating what to do next, whether to tell the others, my eyes fell upon her desk in the far corner of the room. Seven envelopes lay sprawled out upon it. I noticed that one of them was addressed to her big sister Lily and my heart felt like it would drop through my stomach; they were suicide letters. I started to move away feeling like I was invading her personal private thoughts when my eyes fell upon on an envelope with my name on it. Why would she have been writing to me? We’d not spoken in almost five years. Taking a deep breathe, I picked it up, tore open the envelope and took out the folded piece of paper, my hands violently shaking as I read it.

Dear Hayley,

You’re probably wondering why I’m even writing this letter; I know we haven’t spoken in such a long time, but I wanted you to know what really happened that night in the kitchen with James Carmichael. I’ve tried to tell you so many times, but I’ve never got the chance.

 I was grabbing our drinks from the kitchen when I spotted him and I asked how he was enjoying the night. The next thing I knew he grabbed me and had his tongue down my throat. I tried to push him away, but he just laughed and carried on. When you walked in I felt mortified, firstly because I knew how much you liked him and secondly, because he’d forced me into something I really didn’t want to do.  

It’s horrific to have you hating me for it. I hear James Carmichael got some girl pregnant not long after and to this day I’ve always wondered if the girl involved consented or not. Of course, I’ve never found out because I stayed well clear of him after that.  

I’ve made my peace with the fact that you can no longer stand me, but did you really have to turn everybody else against me too? Make them think I’m this evil person? Your friendship meant so much to me. Do you remember that day I approached you and offered you my potato chips? It’s because I saw you sitting alone, but I also thought you looked pretty cool and I thought anybody who looked that cool would definitely be worth knowing.

Anyway, once you have this letter you will probably know that I have killed myself. I tried to be strong, I really did, but I’m just sick of everything being a constant struggle. Not only am I drowning under the weight of my parents expectations, but also the injustice of constantly being treated badly for something which I had no control over. Please know, I don’t blame you though, I mean of course, I wish you would have listened to my side of the story and then perhaps we would still be friends. However, there is no point in dwelling over what could have been, and at least I can leave this world peacefully knowing that at last you will have heard the truth. Perhaps it will mean you will no longer hate me, but look on our friendship with fondness.

Much love

Tracey

As I finished reading the letter, I began to cry. It was all my fault; I’d completely misjudged the situation. She wasn’t snogging my crush; he was assaulting her. I was too focused on my own bitter feelings of betrayal to realise that she wasn’t this horrific thing that had happened to me; she was a human being. She was more than that, she had been my best friend for five whole years, and I’d let some boy drive a wedge between us. I turned against her without stopping to consider the consequences. It was then that I heard the sirens of the ambulance outside coming to collect her body. Without waiting for them to arrive I ran taking the contents of the letter with me, out of shame. I ran as fast as I could go, not stopping to talk to the people I dodged past on the way; their faces etched with surprise at my behaviour. I ran until I got to my car and then I got in and drove away. That’s how I find myself here outside my house with my mum begging me to open the door.

My hand reaches once more for the scrunched-up letter, and I am wracked with an overwhelming crushing feeling of guilt that I cannot even begin to share with anyone, let alone tell my mum. How do I even begin to confess that I’d killed Tracey? The sweet girl that used to come round our house and have sleepovers.

Okay so maybe I didn’t take a knife and stab her or maybe I didn’t shoot her with a gun, but I still partly drove her to it. If I’d have listened to her about that night, if I’d just been a better friend there is no doubt in my mind that she’d still be alive right now.

I click the unlock button and my mum opens the car door giving me a hug that I don’t deserve.

“What’s happened?” she says. I open and close my mouth, but no words form. There is nothing I can say that I will make it any better, bring Tracey back to life.

I might tell her eventually but for now I tell her nothing. I just let her lead me from the car towards the house. When we get to the front door, I briefly glance back at my cheap second-hand car and think of all bad choices I’ve made that caused this to happen; the decisions that have led me here. What other choices have I made that could have such horrible consequences? I was so wrapped up in bitterness and hurt, I never for one single second stopped to think how she felt or even to find out what really happened. Anger can be a driving force in us all, it can cause us to do rash things without thinking. We are like bees; when attacked we sting without hesitation because we are angry, because we want to defend ourselves. Yet, if we knew how much our sting hurt or that ultimately it would poison us in the process perhaps we would think twice. Just like a bee that is close to death after stinging, I know that after this; I will never be the same again!