Lori rose from the chair and walked to the foot of the bed. “Mom, not now.”
Mom ignored her as she focused on me. “They’re saying that there was alcohol involved. That the driver—that Cody was possibly intoxicated.”
My brows furrowed together. Cody had been driving? That didn’t make sense. I didn’t think he’d driven to Keith’s party, because he’d talked about taking Sebastian’s Jeep, unless... “Whose...car were we in?”
“Chris’s,” answered Lori. She folded her arms across her chest.
“And...and Cody was driving his car?” None of this made sense.
She nodded. “It was in the news that alcohol was suspected. They even mentioned the party at Keith’s house. Apparently the police went there that night. It’s been...”
To Keith’s? I lifted my good arm and the IV tugged. I dropped it back to the bed. Why would he have been driving Chris’s car?
Then I remembered what Abbi and Megan had said when they’d gotten to the party. They’d believed Chris had already been drinking, and I hadn’t...I hadn’t even thought about it. There hadn’t even been a flicker of concern or a question of what the hell was he doing driving to Keith’s like that. I’d been...more concerned with what was going on with Sebastian.
“Were they drinking?” Mom asked.
I’d seen Cody with a drink—a red plastic cup and a bottle. I remembered that. I remembered... I remembered thinking—
I wasn’t so sure if he was fine or not, but the guys were staring at me and Megan was pushing me, going on and on about the ten-piece nugget meal she was going to murder. Maybe I could talk to Abbi and catch a ride with whoever she was going home with, but she was in a pretty deep conversation with Keith, oddly enough, and I had a feeling she wasn’t planning to leave anytime soon. There was this tiny voice in the back of my head, coming from the center of my stomach, but I...I was being stupid.
I had gotten in the car.
“Mom, she doesn’t remember the accident. How can she answer that question?” Lori pointed out, but did I really not remember?
Mom stared at me, her chest rising and falling rapidly, and she just lost it. Her face bleached of all color and she started to stand but immediately sat—fell—back into the chair. “What were you thinking, Lena?”
I opened my mouth, my mind running a million miles a minute. I didn’t know what I was thinking. I didn’t understand. Oh God, this couldn’t be happening. This wasn’t supposed to happen.
“Mom,” Lori said, coming back around the bed.
“You got into that car. That is what happened. You got into that car, and that boy, they said he’d been drinking. The police said they could smell it on all of you. And you—you could’ve died. They died.” Mom rose suddenly and stayed up this time, balling her fist to the center of her chest. “I love you and I am counting every lucky star in the sky right now that you’re alive, but I’m so disappointed. I raised you...your father and I raised you...to never, ever get behind the wheel after drinking or get into the car when someone had been drinking.”
“Mom,” whispered Lori, her cheeks wet again. So were mine.
“Did you know he was drunk?” Mom demanded, her voice thready.
Maybe I should drive?
“I don’t know.” My voice shook as another memory poked free. Seriously. I’m fine. I’ve driven this road a million times. I knew that voice. That was Cody—no, that had been Cody. But it couldn’t be, because he wouldn’t have driven drunk with us in the car, because who would do that? Chris had earlier and you didn’t even care, whispered a tiny voice in the back of my head. But this was different. I wouldn’t have gotten in the car. I knew I wouldn’t have. And I wouldn’t have let him drive.
That wasn’t who I was.
I wasn’t that kind of person.
The police showed up Tuesday night.
And that was how I realized that it was Tuesday, three days past Saturday. Three days since my friends had...had died and I’d been asleep. I’d been alive and been asleep.
The cops walked into my hospital room, two of them, and icy fear pooled into my stomach. I was petrified, my wild gaze darting from my mom to the two men in light blue uniforms and weird hats. A nurse was with them, and before they could even introduce themselves, she warned, “You got about ten to fifteen minutes before we need to give her another round of meds. She does not need to be upset right now.”
The older trooper removed his hat and nodded, revealing graying sandy-colored hair. “We won’t take up a lot of time.”
The nurse shot them another stern look before leaving the room.
I swallowed as the old man introduced himself to me and Mom.
“I’m Trooper Daniels. This is Trooper Allen.” He gestured at the younger dark-skinned man, who’d also removed his hat. “We are investigating the crash from Saturday night and we have some questions if you’re up for it.”
“I don’t know if she’s ready.” Mom looked at me wearily. “She only just woke up this morning and found out about her friends...”
Trooper Allen bowed his head. “We are truly sorry for your loss.” He held his hat at his waist, just below his navel. “We have a few questions that we hope you’ll be able to answer so we can fill in some gaps.”
I didn’t want to do this. The tears were already snaking back up on me, but I cleared my throat. I didn’t think I really had a choice. “Okay.”
“Okay.” Trooper Daniels moved to the side of the bed. “We need to know everything that you remember. Do you think you can do that?”
Closing my eyes, I wanted to be anywhere other than I was, and I didn’t want to talk about what I was starting to remember, but this was the police.
So I did.
As I spoke, I started crying again, because the look on Mom’s face screamed disappointment and hurt. The cops had little to no reaction as they peppered the room with brisk questions.
“Was alcohol being served at this party?”
“Were Keith’s parents home at the time and were they aware that you were drinking?”
“Do you remember seeing Cody drinking?”
“Was Chris too intoxicated to drive his own vehicle?”
“How much did you have to drink?”
Some of these questions I suspected they already knew the answers to, but they were checking my answers to see if they matched. When they stopped, I felt like I had to say something. The words were crawling up my throat.
“We... I didn’t think anything would happen,” I whispered, voice and soul and heart and everything about me feeling frayed and broken. “We didn’t think.”
“People so rarely do nowadays,” Trooper Daniels responded, voice heavy. “Especially kids your age. We see it far too often.”
And that was...that.
Especially kids your age. Like it was nothing at the end of the day. They left the room, and all I could do was stare after them. The room was left in silence. This horrible, nerve-stretching silence. I closed my eyes, because I couldn’t bear to look at Mom, to see what I knew she was thinking.
I was that person.
At fault in every sense of the word.
* * *
The meds they administered into the IV made everything...easier and I was just able to lie there. I didn’t hurt. I didn’t have to talk. Lori and Mom were silent, sitting in their chairs, watching reruns of some show.
My brain didn’t shut down as I lay there.
But I didn’t think about that night.
I couldn’t think about that.
As I lay there, feeling like I was floating a good foot or two off the bed, I remembered a different night.
The last time we all were at the lake, back in July.
It had been the weekend of the Fourth of July, and we’d all been together—all of us. Someone had carted out an old charbroil grill, and Sebastian had the back of his Jeep open and the music turned up high.
I sat with Abbi, Dary and Megan as Keith attempted to use snow skis on the lake. Everyone was laughing except Abbi. Her eyes... Her eyes were wide as she murmured over and over, “He’s going to kill himself. We’re all about to watch him die.”