They were all there. All of them, just like I'd asked. Jerry, looking scared and confused, trying to hold on the perfect world he'd created. Nick and Julianna, eying me suspiciously, daring me to talk. Ellie, looking so much like Ally. My heart twisted at the sight of her.
Jerry spotted me first as I stepped into the weak light, and his mouth opened in shock. I don't think he'd expected me to really be there.
"Wh--? What is this all about?" he asked, stepping in front of Ellie, as if to protect her from me. I knew how hard this must be for him. Here in the subway station, where Ally's life had ended, to bring his New Ally.
"I want to tell you what really happened here on January 18th," I said softly. Ellie's eyes widened. I knew she'd done some research on Ally's death and come to the same conclusion as everyone else.
"We know what happened," Jerry said harshly, but I saw the sheen of tears in his eyes.
"Let him talk," Julianna said from her place at Nick's side, and I felt a rush of gratitude for her.
"I wanted to kill Ally Prior. I wanted to kill her more than I wanted anything else in the..." I stopped talking abruptly, as I realized that what I was saying wasn't true. I wanted Laura back more than anything else in the world.
I bit my lip and continued. "I was jealous of her. Of all of you. You were so close, so happy. I wanted that feeling back. I wanted to make you hurt, feel the pain that I had felt so many times. I wanted...I wanted someone to love me like Ally loved Jerry, like Juli loved Nick."
Ellie raised a hand to her mouth, a tear tracing a path through her make-up. I looked at her, and she dropped her gaze to the ground, clutching Jerry's hand.
"I took my knife and followed her to the subway station. I'd had dreams about what it would be like, how it would feel..." I could hear the apathy in my voice, and knew what they must be thinking of me, sounding so dispassionate as I coolly discussed the death of their best friend. But if I let the emotion creep back into my voice, I knew I would overwhelmed. And so I continued.
"I stood behind her as she waited in line. She never saw me, not until she turned around and I raised the knife to her throat--"
"Stop!" Ellie shrieked hysterically, but I raised my voice and talked over her.
"I thought I did it. I really did. I though that for a week, and I lived with the guilt and the pain and the horror. I would have killed myself, almost did, but I was too weak. I was too much of a coward."
Now the pain was starting again, and I clenched my fists.
"But then Detective Alder called me to the office. He said that someone had mentioned my involvement--" Jerry looked away-- "and so I told him. I told him everything. And he told me that Ally had been killed by poison, not by knife wounds. I never hurt her. It had been a hallucination."
I could hear them murmuring, hear the disbelief in their voices.
"I have...mental problems," I began again. "And sometimes I get awful hallucinations that make me think things are happening that really aren't. I know it's hard. You don't have to believe me. I wouldn't believe it if I didn't know it was true. I didn't kill Ally Prior, because someone else did it first."