Tiffany was leading the way, the girls following close behind her.
‘Careful, watch your step, I think it’s this way,’ said Violet, a little nervously.
And then, all of a sudden, Tiffany disappeared. She had tripped and fallen.
‘Oh my Gosh, Oh My Gosh, OH NO, oh no…’
Tiffany was on the ground, covered in grass and leaves She was a mess but she was okay. But, what had she tripped over. It wasn’t a branch and it wasn’t that she had fallen into a hole. Tiffany had tripped over something that was big, that was white, that used to be pretty.
Tiffany had tripped over a body.
The girls raced out of the forest so fast, crying, weeping and wailing. It was a body. It had been buried under a pile of leaves and twigs, but - it was definitely a body. It was the body of a young girl, someone the same age as them, someone who could’ve been their friend.
It was the body of the girl who used to have a phone. It was the body of a girl who used to be Damien’s girlfriend.
It was definitely Tara.
Everything else was a blur. The girls had rushed back to the forest, rushed back to Violet’s house, blurted out to her mom that they had found a body, and together they had all rushed to the police station. Violet had grabbed Tara’s phone so she could tell the police what had happened. She also had to tell Damien what had happened. She had to tell Jennifer as well, Tara’s friend.
‘Calm down honey,’ Ellen was saying, not just to her daughter but to all the girls. ‘Calm down. The police will sort this out. It’s terrible, terrible, oh my gosh, this poor young woman, her family, how are they ever going to recover. And who could have done this.’
On the way to the police station, Violet told her mom and Andrew everything. It felt like a huge release, to tell them. Her mom believed her, of course she did. Andrew looked at her, as if she was a criminal. And then, Violet did something really brave. She picked up the phone and she called Damien.
‘Damien,’ she said. ‘It’s Tara. Well, it’s not Tara. My real name is Violet. I have something terrible to tell you.’
Damien had yelled at her in disbelief and then said he was coming in to the police station. Violet was in a room with her mom, dad and a policeman, Sam. Sam kept asking her to go over the story.
‘You what? Tell me this again. Help me to make it clear. You pretended to be Tara? Why on earth would you do something like that?’
Violet was exhausted. She was also panicking that she would somehow be blamed for Tara’s death.
‘You have to understand, please, please, I had nothing to do with her death. I don’t know what happened to her. I never knew her. It was pure co-incidence that we tripped over her in the forest, I need help, of course I didn’t do this, I moved here…’
Andrew was outside trying to arrange a lawyer. Stepdads were at least good for something.
The policeman was trying to calm Violet’s mom down.
‘Look, we just have to ask your daughter questions. And we need to talk to Damien. I believe he is on his way to the police station.’
Violet was dying inside.
‘What about Tara’s parents?’ she was asking. ‘Are they nearby? Are the also coming in?’
‘You just worry about you,’ Sam told Violet. ‘Let’s go over everything again. Everything. From the minute you found the phone. Tell me what happened.’
And so Violet went over everything one more time. Her friends had been allowed to give statements and then go home. She was the last one there. But her parents were with her, by her side, supporting her.
At least her mom was. She wasn’t sure how Andrew felt. He was behaving a little quizzically.
Violet wanted to get home. She wanted to get away from this place. She was incredibly anxious about bumping into Damien. The police had taken Tara’s phone in, as evidence. Damien had no way of getting hold of her now, Violet.
Although he knew where she lived. Tara’s old house.
Finally the police let her go. Violet may have been a suspect, but they didn’t have any evidence. They couldn’t pin a murder on her, could they. She hadn’t done it. To be honest, Violet didn’t even know how Tara had died. They had found the body but they hadn’t seen stab wounds or a gunshot. Tara had been fully clothed with a pretty scarf around her neck.
Maybe that scarf had been used to strangle her. It was too much to contemplate.
Violet was walking out of the police station, with Ellen on one side and Andrew on the other. As they were leaving, a young man was coming out. It was Damien. Violet recognised him immediately from his phone. He looked distraught, with red eyes. He looked at Violet.
‘You must be Violet?’ he said. ‘How could you?’
‘Damien, Damien, I am so so sorry. Please believe me I never meant for this to happen, I did not know what I was getting into. I fell in love with you…’
There was a stunned silence, not just from Damien but from Violet’s parents too.
How had their dear darling daughter got herself into so much trouble.
Damien walked away. He left Violet standing there, bereft.
It was clear he did not believe her.