I’ll tell you again

Elizabeth has written a short story called 'I'll tell you again'.

Elizabeth Ajao

Jess  

There are so many bad smells. There’s that one that’s like rotten eggs that you encounter  when it’s too hot. I think it’s sulphur. Then there’s that gross fishy scent someone has if  they haven’t been washing properly, oh, and speaking of not showering there’s the  seemingly omnipresent ‘BO’ that seems to follow all teenage boys around like a shadow.  However, there is nothing quite like the Essence de Rotting Flesh that we smelt that night.  Sorry, too much?  

Em  

It wasn’t very nice, no. It was really quite scary. I mean, when you get a call from your  friend at 2am telling you to come meet her for a milkshake you don’t usually expect her  to be dead. It only took us ten minutes to get there. I just… I’m just a bit confused. Was  somebody watching her? Is somebody watching us? It’s like being in a television show,  isn’t it?  

Jess  

You want me to tell you again? Fine. It was 1.30am, Luce called me saying that she’d had  a really bad date and asked if I’d meet her for a milkshake at that 24/7 American-style  diner on the seafront. It wasn’t unusual, no. The four of us were always calling each other  at weird hours asking if we could meet for a chat. What was the question? Oh yeah, no it  wasn’t weird. I don’t usually reply to texts or video calls, so it’s better to just call me so that  we can arrange to meet in person. Em was at mine because her parents were away at  some anniversary bash in Surrey. She’s the kind of person who’d set the house on fire  trying to cook herself beans on toast, so I invited her round for a cute little sleepover like  we used to have when we were kids. She came with me to meet Luce. I knew she  wouldn’t mind, she and Em used to be really close. And to be fair, I make fun of her and  all, but Em is a laugh, even though we’re normally laughing at her, not with her.  

Hannah  

I was at my granny’s house. She’s getting really old and I hate thinking that she might  be alone so I go round most evenings for tea. I wasn’t aware that Jess and Em were  having a sleepover, no. You mean like a secondary school kind of sleepover? Lame.  Luce told me she was going on a date with this “super cute” girl she’d met at her new  tennis club. She sounded great. Well, Luce said she had dirty-blonde hair but that her  dark roots were starting to show. She said it didn’t look bad, though. Erm, she said  grey-green eyes, kind of sad-looking because they were so big. White, yes. Tanned, 

though, with freckles. How am I supposed to know how tall she was? God. If she’s  anything like the rest of those snotty brats at that tennis club though I’m sure she’s tall  and skinny like a runway model.  

Em  

Don’t be silly, Hannah doesn’t like girls. She’s always got boyfriends. She’s seeing some  boy named Lewis at the moment, I think. Luce was into anyone, she dated all sorts of  boys when we were at school. She dated short boys; tall boys; geeky boys; popular  boys; sporty boys; musical boys; clever boys; boys who rode skateboards; boys with  tattoos— sorry. But then, we got to sixth form and she realised nobody actually cared  who she dated, so she started dating pretty girls; ugly girls; kind girls; mean girls; geeky  girls; popular girls; sporty girls; musical girls; clever gir— sorry. She didn’t really care, as  long as they had a kind heart. I just mean, a good heart, you know? Some people have  good hearts, some people have bad hearts. I think I have a good heart, but I suppose  you never really know, do you?  

Jess  

Honestly, Luce was just always so confident in her relationships that none of us really  interfered, even if we didn’t particularly like them. It got to the point where we all just,  kind of, stopped asking. She mentioned this girl she was going on a date with two or  

three times, I guess, and when she did mention her it was only ever good things. The only  time we’d ever heard Luce struggle in a relationship was when she called us up that  night. She was in tears, yeah. I didn’t even ask, I just said, “there ASAP”, and we were. Ten  minutes or so?  

Hannah  

Luce just loved love. She was such a romantic. She always thought of herself as being  the main character in some teen novel, I think. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, no. She  saw everything with rose-tinted glasses. She never let herself see the bad in people  because then they wouldn’t fit in with her character. My God, was Luce obsessed with  romance. She was one of those people who would kiss you out of nowhere just  because the imaginary producers in her head told her it looked good. It was so  annoying, you never knew what she was actually thinking, only what her character was.  No, why would I resent her? I didn’t like her like that, I have a boyfriend, Tommy,  anyway. What a dumb question. 

Jess  

Have you met with this girl, yet? No, I don’t know her, but you can’t tell me that it was just  a coincidence that they went on a date and the next thing you know my best friend is  dead? Sorry, I didn’t mean to raise my voice. I know you’re just trying to do your job.  Sorry.  

Em  

Luce and I were really close, she used to live a few doors down from me so we spent a  lot of time together. Then she moved house and I went to a different school and I guess  we just… lost touch. I’m not really sure what happened. I did miss her a lot, and I always  wished we could meet up again. I adore Jess, don’t get me wrong, but Luce was the only  one in our little group who didn’t make me feel like a child. The others always made fun  of me, and made comments about me being “ditsy” that they thought I couldn’t hear.  Luce always stuck up for me. I wished I could have stuck up for her. If we’d have just  been able to click our heels together, or if we’d have just had a flying umbrella we could  have been there so much sooner. It’s such a shame that we aren’t in one of Luce’s books.  

Hannah  

What do you mean my grandma said I wasn’t there? I was. She has dementia, or maybe  Alzheimer’s. Dementia, yes. She forgets things. I was there, we had fish and chips. No,  she cooked them herself. She doesn’t like the batter on fish and chips from the places  on the seafront. Then we watched Philomena, you know, the one about the nuns? She  fell asleep on the sofa and I took her up to bed when it was finished. I went to bed. I’m  always waking up in the middle of the night, yeah. I don’t sleep very well at the best of  times, let alone when my phone rings every five minutes. Yes, it was Luce. I didn’t pick  up, no. Why? Because it was typical Luce… She’d call me at 1, 2, 3am telling me she  wanted to “hang out” at the diner all the time. It got to the point where I just didn’t  even entertain her anymore. I met with her once, months ago. She kissed me. I kissed  her back, yes. It doesn’t even matter. I’m sorry, but how is this important?  

Jess  

Back on Lu-nah are you? That’s just what I’ve always called Luce and Hannah. Oh God,  yeah, it’s been going on for months. I think they both thought nobody knew. I didn’t feel  the need to tell anyone, no, what goes on between them is up to them… As I said, I didn’t  really ask. Luce floated between relationships like oil on water. No, I doubt she’d have  told Hannah about this date. What do you mean? She called Hannah? When? Did she  leave a message? And Hannah ignored her? 

Hannah  

Jess said she knew what? There was nothing to know. It was just a few kisses. And no, I  never listened to the messages. I started listening to the first one and it started like  they all do. I don’t know, it was like, “Hey, Hannah, can you come and meet me? I need  you.” I just deleted the rest of them without listening. She always “needed” me, just  never enough. That’s why I have Sam. My boyfriend.  

Em  

Of course I wish we could have got there sooner. Maybe we could have saved her. Or  maybe she would have hurt us too. Who? That weird girl Luce was on a date with. Of  course I don’t mean Hannah. Hannah was her friend. Hannah is my friend.  

Jess  

Hannah can be a very emotional person. She didn’t speak to me for a month once  because I went shopping with Luce and Em. We were shopping for her birthday present.  She told us we were liars and threw the makeup palette we bought her away after she’d  smashed all of the eyeshadow in it. Do I think she would ever actually hurt someone,  though? No. Probably not.  

Hannah  

Of course I’m emotional, I’m a human being, but did I care that Luce was dating some  gorgeous, blonde, sun-kissed tennis player? Please.  

Em  

Hannah did tell some fibs, but nothing bad. It would be like, “I’m on my way”, when she’d  really forgotten that we were having lunch and she’d only just woken up, or, “yes, Em,  homemade cake is supposed to be crunchy”. She’d never lie about something big.  

Hannah  

What do you mean? Did someone mess with it on purpose? You have to be kidding  me. No! I wouldn’t even know where to start if I was to tamper with CCTV. I told you  before, I was with my granny, go and ask her again, I swear. Yes of course I tell little lies  every now and then, but there’s a massive difference between trying not to hurt Em’s  feelings about her disgusting home bakes and lying about the alleged murder of one  of my best friends. 

Jess  

No, I had no idea that the CCTV from the diner was broken, what happened to it? Are we  talking humans messing it up or some kind of system issue? Oh, right. No, sorry, but I  guess that’s why this is taking so long, then?  

Em  

Oh, what does that mean? Oh, gosh. No, I had no idea anybody had smashed the CCTV  cameras. Smashed? Did I say smashed? I just meant meddled with. I mean, modern  technology doesn’t tend to just break does it? I’m just guessing somebody broke it on  purpose to cover their tracks. Me? You don’t think I had anything to do with it, do you?  

Hannah  

Em said what?  

Jess  

Em’s like that, she just ties herself up in knots. She’s really ditsy. I wouldn’t read too much  into it, none of us do.  

Em  

It was an accident, I promise.  

Jess  

No, Em was with me.  

Em  

She just ran out of the diner so fast, I was so tired and it was so dark.  

Hannah  

Yes, Em’s a ditsy little cow but she wouldn’t even squash a mosquito. 

Em  

I didn’t mean to hit her. It wasn’t on purpose. I was just so scared so I just drove away as  fast as I could.  

I’m sorry.  

I’m so sorry.