I sat huddled on the couch next to Mrs. Westran, a pile of crumpled tissues between us, our faces equal masks of smeared makeup and bloodless fear. My shirt was a mess, stained with tears and dripping mascara, and my limp hair stuck to my sweaty forehead. I didn't care about any of that. I only cared about the pictures on the walls, the folded laundry in the living room, the memories cartwheeling through my mind.
There would be no more pictures of him to hang in mahogany frames. No more death metal t-shirts to fold and place in bureau drawers. No more memories of that darling, awkward, irreplaceable boy who I called my best friend. There would be no more Hunter.
The detectives told us that he'd been attacked by a clinically insane man while walking home from my house. They hadn't been able to find the man yet, but he had a knife. And if it had happened to Hunter, it could happen to anyone.
"Isn't that ironic?" Mrs. Westran's voice, raspy from tears and screams, broke through my reverie. I looked up at her ashen face and knew that if I looked in a mirror I would see the same dark circles, the same tear streaks, and the same haunted, hollow eyes staring back at me. "He was so looking forward to that trip to the mental hospital and it ended up being one of them who--who--" Her voice broke and she pressed another tissue to her mouth.
I reached over and took her cold hand in mine. "It will be okay," I whispered to her, and she clutched my fingers like a drowning man. "Thank you for being here, Scarlet," she said through hot tears.
"Of course, Mrs. Westran," I murmured, caressing her hand. "I'll always be here for you."
She collapsed against my shoulder in a wave of tears, and I sat up straight, holding her hand and wondering who would be there for me.