Grandwell is really starting to get on my nerves. He summonsed me again today. I had to sit in his closet-sized office and pretend to listen as he preached to me about the importance of going through the grief process. To him, my grief process had to start all the way back before Justin died. He asked questions about my freshman year, He started by vaguely asking me about classes and extracurricular activities before drilling in on my friends.
Surprisingly, he spent more time asking questions about Peyton than he did about Justin. I could tell that he already knew she had recently moved away and he seemed suspicious of the circumstances. Somehow, he knew that her move was tied to what happened the night of the party. I suspected that Grandwell already knew almost everything that had happened that night.
"Payton went to the party with you and Justin?" he asked. This time, he was leaning back in his chair and had his feet perched on the corner of his desk. To an outside observer he would look casual and relaxed. I knew better.
Jasper Grandwell was the youngest member of the Crystal Lake High faculty. I didn't know his exact age, but I would guess it was around 25. He had closely cropped blond hair but wore a light scruff on his face, probably an attempt to look older. If I didn't find him so damn annoying, I might actually think he was cute. Hot, even. But his annoying smirk negated any of his charm.
"Yeah, she rode there with us." I tried to keep my answers as concise as possible.
"Who was driving? You or Justin?"
I had answered that question a dozen times after the accident. "Justin drove us there in his car. I drove us home." I didn't add that the reason I was driving on the way home was because Justin had been drinking. The police had already documented that in their official report. It was probably the only fact they had recorded amongst their many lies.
"How many kids were at the party?" His faked nonchalance was super obvious.
"Maybe fifty?" I shrugged. "I wasn't exactly doing a headcount."
"It was at Jenna Monroe's house?" he continued, undeterred by my bad attitude.
"Her dad's place. Technically, the party was outside. He lives on the lake." I saw a flashing memory in my head, Justin leering playfully at me as he suggested we go skinning dipping. He really had a beautiful smile.
"Crystal Lake? One the edge of town?"
"That's the one." I thought it was a dumb question since that was the only lake in town.
"Was there anyone at the party besides your classmates? Any parents or kids from other schools?" Grandwell clearly already knew the answer.
"No parents. Jenna's dad was out of town. That was kind of the whole reason for the party. There were a couple of guys there that aren't from the high school." I could feel my entire body tensing and I knew that Grandwell noticed it, too.
"Did you interact with them at all?" His tone of voice has changed at all during our conversation, but his jaw was clenched.
"One of them started harassing Payton. He was saying weird things to her and trying to get her to go with him somewhere. When she said no, he got all pissy and tried to grab her. I shoved him away and then Justin stepped in." This was where it all went bad.
"Stepped in how? Did he say something or do something physical?"
"He just told the guy to back off." I noticed that Grandwell was holding a small marble in his left hand, slowly circling it around. I couldn't take my eyes off it and could hear myself saying things that I had never planned to tell anyone. "The bigger guy laughed and then punched Justin. He hit him so hard that he flew through the air. Payton screamed and the other guy reached for her again. There was a strange gold flash in his eyes, like an animal. Even his teeth appeared to have formed into fangs. I didn't know what to do, but I noticed that someone had left a rusting metal shovel near the pile of wood next to Payton. I reached behind her and grabbed the splintery wood handle. It was heavier than I expected.. He had Payton by the arm and was dragging her away."
"What did you do next, Sawyer?" Grandwell had sat up straight, his feet firmly on the floor.
"I hit him.." I closed my eyes as the memory overwhelmed me. "I wasn't even sure I'd be able to lift the shovel, but once I saw that he was trying to take Payton away, I had a sudden burst of strength. I didn't expect to hit him so hard, but I guess adrenaline took over. Anyway, something cracked as the shovel connected with the side of his head. He let go of Payton right away. I was so surprised at my own strength that I didn't notice the other man rushing at me until it was almost too late. I had already dropped the shovel, so I was completely defenseless.. My instincts took over."
"What does that mean? What did you do?"
"I threw him away," I said.
"You mean you shoved him?" Grandwell clarified.
"No. I caught him as he was throwing himself at me and I picked him up off the ground and threw him." I wanted to stop talking, but I couldn't stop the words from flowing. "It was like he didn't weigh anything at all. Like tossing a pillow."
"Had you ever done something like that before?" he said.
"Not exactly like that. But here were a couple times when I had a burst of strength that wasn't normal. I never hurt anyone though." As least I didn't think I had hurt anyone. "We didn't stick around to see what would happen next. Justin got to his feet and he made us run to the car."
Grandwell was leaning so far forward he was barely still seated. "What happened next?"
I closed my eyes, willing the memory to come back to me. I'd had so many nightmares about the accident, but the reality was much hazier. "I don't know. I can't remember."
"You can't remember?' The disappointment in his voice was unmistakable.
"I just remember opening my eyes and finding myself on the road. I was thrown from the car. Justin and Payton were still inside." I swallowed hard and opened my eyes. "Justin was dead."
17-year-old girl with a deadly secret, special powers, and a sassy attitude.