I take a deep breath after I tell Emma the whole story. I am amazed with myself. Before this, I had never told what happened to anyone, not even my parents or Kevin. I was afraid to be branded a murderer.
My heart pumps faster as I look up at Emma. I can’t tell her expression at all. I would not blame her for being afraid of me now though. Even I would run from someone like me.
Suddenly, Emma stands up. I am too scared to face her, so I keep my head down.
Huh? Did I just hear her right? I lift my head and to my surprise, her eyes are full of tears.
“Idiot!” she yells. “You’re an idiot, Joshua! Stupid! Dumb!”
“W-What?” I stammer. This reaction is beyond my understanding.
“Not playing around with your friends after school anymore,” she says. “Not joining any clubs, spending as much time as possible with family… Wendy obviously didn’t want that!”
My eyes widen. What is she talking about? Isn’t spending time with family the most important? Wendy always waited for me back when I would never come home. No matter how long she had to wait, she would always smile whenever I came back. Wasn’t it because she wanted to spend more time with me? Wasn’t it to show me how important it was to give time for family?
“Of course she wanted you to come home to spend time with your family,” Emma says, as if she read my mind. “But she knew that you weren’t hanging out with the right people, so that’s why she waited for you every night. She was worried about your safety, but that doesn’t mean that she wanted you to stay home all the time. She just wanted you to meet the right people.” She crouches down and pats my back. “People who care about you. People who you can trust with your feelings.”
People I could trust with my feelings? That statement makes me think about my friends back in the city. Other than Kevin, I did feel a bit uncomfortable with the others. It wasn’t that I never had fun with them, but it felt like in order to be accepted by them, I had to act a certain way: rebellious, defiant. That way I would be considered cool.
“I…” I stammer. “What am I doing?”
Emma looks at me, confused. “What do you mean?”
“What have I been doing?” I cry. “Who I am? Who is the real me?”
Am I naturally rebellious? Or am I actually a good boy who is obedient, listening to every word? Which is my real personality? Are either of them truly me?
“Who… Who am I?” I ask.
At first, Emma doesn’t say a word. She sits down next to me on the curb and wraps an arm around my back. “Well, I don’t think anyone really knows who he or she is,” she says.
I freeze. Emma never fails to surprise me with her words.
“I don’t know who I am,” she says. “But I think the reason why we are born is to find out who we are, what our passions are, and who we make bonds with.” She then looks at me in the eye and smiles. “So don’t worry about finding out now. You’re sixteen now, right? You’re still young, so you’ll have plenty of years to figure it out.”
I just stare, speechless. Unlike ordinary people who would give the cliche response: you’re kind or you’re nice, she replied with such a unique answer. Perhaps she was right. But what about Wendy? I wonder if she knew who she was, how kind and generous she was. How I should have been more grateful for her. How my memories of her now bring me regret as well as happiness. I wonder if she knew.
“Ah,” Emma says. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have talked so arrogantly. I wouldn’t understand—”
“No,” I say. “You completely read my mind.” I take her hand and grin. “Thanks, Emma.”
“R-Really?” she stammers. “Also… Nevermind.”
“No, tell me,” I say.
Emma stares at the ground uncomfortably. “You did say that you killed your sister,” she says. “I won’t lie and say that it wasn’t your fault to make you feel better, but I don’t think she commit suicide.”
I feel a lump in my throat. Why was she saying this to me? Everyone says the same thing: there’s no way such a bubbly girl like Wendy commit suicide. But according to the witness, she crossed the street while the light was red. How could it be any more obvious?
“When you told me to leave you alone earlier, I also crossed the road while the light was red,” Emma says. “But I wasn’t trying to commit suicide, Joshua. I was just so shocked that I didn’t pay attention at all. So I think it was the same for Wendy.”
“What… do you mean?” I ask, a bit afraid of her answer.
“After you told her to die, she must have been hurt for sure,” Emma says. “So she must have ran the red light without even knowing— Ah!” she exclaims suddenly, covering her mouth. “I’m sorry. I keep talking as if I know everything. I’m sorry—”
“No,” I say. I bury my face into my knees, hiding my tears. “To be honest, I feel a bit relieved. But I still can’t move past the thought that her death was my fault. I just can’t forget about what happened.”
“You don’t have to forget, Joshua,” Emma says. “Moving on just means that you accept your past and continue with life. People live for the future, not the past, but the past is also what makes us who we are. That’s why you should never forget. Always remember and learn from your mistakes.”
Learn from my mistakes? Now that I think about it, all I have been doing is pitying myself. And maybe Emma was right. Moving on did not mean I had to forget about Wendy. If I continue just being so pathetic, I will never live for the future. I’ll just be engrossed in the past.
“I think I understand now,” I say. I feel as though a heavy weight has just been lifted from my chest. I turn my head and directly face Emma. “Thanks,” I say with a laugh. “Did I ever tell you how much you are like Wendy?”
“So much that you were scared of me,” Emma joked.
“Yeah,” I say, nodding.
I lift my head and stare at the stars. I wonder if Wendy is up there watching me right now. I raise my hand, trying to get closer to the sky. For some reason, I feel a warm feeling, like she is here giving me a hug. Perhaps she is still worried about me, so she can’t go on to the next life in the heavens.
Wendy, how are you doing?
Thank you for caring so much about me.
I’ll live for the future now, so stop worrying about me and rest in peace, okay?
I stand up and extend my hand toward Emma, something I should have done a year ago. “Let’s go home?” I say.
“Yeah,” she says, taking my hand.