Summer was finally here, and I could feel the sweat pour off my back as we sat beneath the oak tree, watching the creek bubble happily below. Its carefree gurgling wrenched my heart, as I remembered how once its clear waters had run red; the stepping stones slick with blood. I glanced at Kara and saw that she remembered too. She and I were reliving that terrible day, when Daniel had died.
We had lost so much over the years, Kara and I, and I suppose it showed on our faces. Worry lines replaced laugh lines, the skin stretched tight over our cheekbones, our eyes had lost their shine. And it all started with Dan.
We'd been young then, so young; and careless. And Daniel was showing off, like always. He was always trying to impress Kara, and I let him, because I knew that Kara only ever loved me. Dan, my best friend, my partner in crime, the one I laughed with, even cried with. Gone because of my own carelessness.
We were sitting on the creek bed, our bare feet submerged, letting the cool water soothe our sunburned skin. My arm was around Kara, and Dan was shooting me a jealous glance; I stuck my tongue out at him. Kara laughed at us and kissed me. I winked at Dan over her shoulder.
Dan made a face and stood up, his bare feet sinking into the soft mud. "Wanna go, Ben?" he challenged, grinning. "I don't want to hurt you, Danny boy," I mocked, laughing. He narrowed his eyes and rolled up his sleeves, barely containing his laughter.
We faced off, neither of us making a move. Kara was laughing behind us. Grinning, I boxed the air near Dan's head. He pushed me. I pushed him back, and he fell, laughing, with a splash. I jumped on top of him and pinned him down.
Suddenly Kara's laughter became shrieks of horror. I looked down and saw that the water was red with blood. I stood up and looked myself over, trying to see where I was bleeding from.
"Oh my God, Dan!" Kara screamed, and I looked down to see that Dan's head had connected with a rock and been gashed open. Blood poured freely from the wound. Daniel's eyes were glazed. I could only stand and stare as my best friend died before my eyes.
Every year Kara and I came back here, and every year we relived the death of our best friend, Daniel, who had died at my hand.