by Emma Bernardi
Every story has a hidden side. I have known it, since I was a child. My mum once told me to never trust people completely because everybody just tells stories according to what they want people to know. They usually miss details and my mum used to call that the “hidden part of their story”.
Sometimes the “hidden part” can be the most important one in order to get the right story and sometimes... it’s your story that has a hidden part that you didn’t know about.
I was a seventeen years old girl. I had been living in New York for all my short life. I used to love my life: I was pretty good at school and I had many friends older than me with whom I have always had a lot of fun. My mum had been the most important person in my life since I was born. I used to have a very special relationship with her; she was there for me in every situation and she supported me. We grew up together since my dad’s death. He died in a car accident when I was 4 years old. Sometimes I wonder how my life would have been if he hadn’t died. My mum used to love my dad so much, however, in spite of mourning, we succeeded in being happy again.
It was a Thursday night. I was in the kitchen of my house in New York, waiting for my mum to come back from her dinner out with friends, and in the meantime, although it was 11 o’ clock, I was eating pizza. I was sitting at the table quietly with no thoughts in my mind and my AirPods on, tasting my dinner and listening to Alicia Keys’ “Fallin’”, when I felt someone behind me. I turned myself to face him and screamed.
It was a dark figure. I managed to see only his grey and angry eyes before feeling a knife going through my belly. I was in pain, I couldn’t breathe, and I was scared. When I saw the blood on my t-shirt, my body shivered and I fell on the ground. He was standing right in front of me and I was not strong enough to say a word. Then, quickly, without any hesitation, he took a gun and he took a headshot on me.
After that I felt nothing anymore. Everything was dark.
Now I’m watching my body lie on the floor. I do not have a body anymore and I am not feeling hurt, but I can think, I can feel, I can hear. How it is possible? I’m pretty sure that what happened just a few minutes ago was my death, so what am I? Am I a ghost?
I am so confused and sad; my life is over. What am I supposed to do here?
While I am wondering about all of it, I hear the main door of the house opening: it is my mum. When she finds my corpse on the kitchen floor, she falls on her knees and the tears start streaming down her cheeks. She takes my pale hand and says my name more than a million times, as if she hopes it could wake me up, but, as the time passes, her crying becomes louder because the rational part of her knows that I can’t wake up anymore. It’s very hard for me to see her in pain. I try to talk to her but she cannot hear me, she can’t see me.
My mum calls the police immediately and Detective Brook Williams arrives with her colleagues as soon as possible. She is a beautiful woman in her thirties. She seems to know what to do; she is determined and extremely serious entering my house and, all of a sudden, my mum get quieter, and seems relieved.
“Hi Blair, I came here as soon as I understood what had happened. I’m really sorry, that’s a tragedy! You are not safe anymore, he has found out who you really are, I think you should come with me, and in the meantime, my colleagues will take care of the crime scene,” Detective Williams says, hugging my mum.
“I’m so glad you got the call, I’m so scared. Yes, I’d better come with you. And please tell me: Where is he? Did he get in trouble? What is going on here?”
“I really don’t know, Blair; it’s been months since I last heard something from him. We are going to figure it all out and fix everything. Take your time and try to calm down.”
“I can’t be calm, Brook and I don’t want to; my daughter is dead!” Mom says, indicating my body lying on the floor. “I want to come with you and find who dared to kill her!”
I am listening to this conversation and I am more confused than I was five minutes ago.
Another voice now is talking to all of them. “This is Courtney Blake, 17 years old. She was killed about one hour ago with a headshot. She was already on the ground because of the chest knife wound, and the murderer was standing in front of her when he took the shot. The knife wound was not intended to kill her; the murderer could have killed her without any effort because she was on her back. I suppose he wanted her to suffer, which makes me think that it was a personal revenge.”
When the coroner finishes speaking, Detective Williams announces, “It’s very likely that her death was inrevenge for something because she is Courtney Reed; she is Mike’s daughter!”
No one is speaking, all of them seem to be shocked.
I really don’t know what is going on. For years, I’ve been thinking that my father was dead because of a car accident that happened when I was four. How do these people know his name? And is it true that my last name is Reed, instead of Blake?
After a while, listening to their conversations, I discover that my father isn’t dead, he is an FBI secret agent and my mum used to be a secret agent as well. When I was born, my mum decided to take care of me, dropping the dangerous job, and my father chose to keep the job, protecting us by changing our identity. He thought that we were safe in this way, but he was wrong.
I can’t remember my father very well. I don’t even know him and now I’m dead and it seems like it’s his fault. I’m mad at him, he left me and he was not capable of protecting me. I would say that I’m close to hating him (if it is possible to hate someone you don’t know). I’m feeling betrayed by my family. I’m upset and angry and I want to know what this story is about.
During the rest of the night, everyone tries to find Mike Reed to tell him I’m dead. Brook was the one he was in touch with, but his last call was three months ago, so it looks like he doesn’t want to be found.
My mum works so hard all weekend to find my father and the person who killed me. I decide to stay by her side even if she can’t see me. Sometimes I hear her crying and I get full of sadness and wish I could do something to help her, but I’m just a ghost in the shade. I really feel sorry and useless.
The days pass by; today is Tuesday and she is hopeless. I hate seeing her in pain. She is laying on the sofa for the first time after she spent days without sleeping. She falls asleep with her eyes full of tears and her clothes still on. She wakes up when she receives a call and, getting it, she seems quite happy. I hope good news is about to come.
I follow her to the FBI headquarters. When we arrive there’s a man waiting for her. He looks similar to the man in the picture that she keeps on her bedside table. She runs in his arms and they kiss like two teenagers at the very start of their love story. I am so happy to see my mum smiling again; now she is not alone anymore.
It’s very weird to see my dad, he is definitely sad and depressed for my death because he feels like it’s his fault. At the very start I thought I hated him, but now I discover that he has gone away from us because he had a very important secret mission to hold. I hear him saying to my mum that he wanted to come back home but he was afraid that it could have been dangerous for us, so he decided to come back when everything was fixed up and the mission was complete.
“Did you manage to fix everything up?” my mum asks, worrying about the answer.
“No, I didn’t. Minosa, the most powerful drug dealer of the east coast, caught me while I was investigating on his business. After three months in his jail, I managed to escape because I killed his son while he was looking after me.” He stops talking and whispers heavily, “I suppose that’s the reason why our daughter is dead: Minosa wanted to take revenge on me by doing the same thing I did to him!”
“Do you want to see the cameras of our house to see if you can recognize him, just to be sure it’s him?”
“Yes, let’s start to work!”
My mum takes a troubled sight with concerned eyes and gets up. “Let’s go!”
My dad stops her, catching her hand. “We will find out who did this to our family, Blair. Now I’m here, you don’t have to worry, we will go through all of this together.”
She takes a deep breath and thanks my dad with a quick kiss on his lips. “I’m glad to have you back,” she whispers, laying her head on his chest.
I love seeing them together. It makes my heart full of joy, knowing my mum is not alone as I thought.
“In the videos he is always covered by a hood, did you find some familiar details of him?” Brook asks my father.
No answer is pronounced. He is staying right in front of the monitor, unmoving, with his sharp blue eyes and his serious face.
“Stop here! There is something on his neck! Zoom, please. On the neck of this person, that I’m afraid to see again, even if it’s just a recording, there is a tattoo. I have already seen that symbol, it’s a triangle in the middle of which a serpent is painted.”
The voice of my dad breaks the silence. “That’s the symbol of Minosa traffickers. Minosa has that symbol, but on his shoulder.”
“We know the murder is linked to him, but it is not Minosa himself,” my mum affirmed with delusion. “Someone took the shot for him. We know that it must be a young man close to Minosa. Let’s check his family.”
Brook stands up from her chair, with a light in her eyes, “Wait a minute. If it is not Minosa, we also need to check who could be close enough to Courtney to discover that she is your daughter. No one knew that, and neither did she.”
My heart is beating faster and faster. I think I have just discovered who killed me.
I saw that symbol several times but I never knew its meaning until now. I decide to run home as fast as possible. I run into my room and I try with all my will to touch a box that contains all my photos in order to reach the one I want. It’s more difficult than I thought. I feel like I’m touching nothing. I try again with all my effort and feel my touch becoming more and more sensitive. I’m excited; I’m close to the truth, I’m discovering who killed me. I know that I’m not wrong. I successfully take the frame I need. I take a look at the photo in it, in which Kevin, my best friend, and I are pictured, photographed from the back. I can’t believe it, he has that tattoo on his neck. He is the one who killed me.
I’m feeling empty, it’s a cold shower, how is it possible? I loved him so much. He was like the father I’d never had, he is 2 years older than me but we used to attend the same classes. He was sweet and he used to take care of me like I was his little sister. Now I’m having a breakdown; my world is scrambling. It was all a lie: my dad’s car accident, my best friend, my name.
I don’t want to move. I need time to think; I’m shocked and I don’t know what to do. To tell the truth, I’m wondering even why I’m still here as a ghost. I want to get away from this place where everything has been a lie!
I hear the door opening. My parents are home. I’d better find a way to tell them about Kevin.
“It was a good idea to check his family, because although if I went after him for years, I didn’t know he had a second son who’s been here in New York for all this time, away from his family.”
While I hear my father talking, my feelings hurt again and I start crying. Kevin was Minosa’s son! He was with me all the time, probably he knew who I was. That’s the reason he was so kind to me at the very start; his aim was to control me in order to control my father. That’s so scary and my dad should be scared too. Minosa knows so much more about him than he knows about Minosa.
They should know all about it, so I let the frame with the photo fall from my hands. As I had hoped, it makes a noise, and everyone downstairs gets up immediately and come to my room to see what happened.
As they see the picture, their faces turn to grey. My dad holds the photograph. I see fear in his eyes as he says, “That’s the one who killed our daughter. Blair, who is it?”
“Oh my god! He is Kevin, a friend of hers.”
My dad passes by my bed and goes to search other pictures of Kevin in the box I opened before. “In this one we can see his face. Yes, his name is not Kevin, he is Josh, the second son of Minosa, look!”
My mum starts crying. “You’re right. How could I be so stupid? I never noticed it until now.”
My dad hugs my mum. “Calm down, it’s not your fault. You’ve been such a good mum; nobody could find out something like this. At least now we know where we can find him. Let’s call Brook and tell her to look for Kevin and not Josh.”
Now I’m right here, in front of my friend Kevin’s house with all these policemen that want to arrest him for killing me.
They break into his room and he starts running away quickly. My dad goes after him, shouting, “I will catch him Blair, I promise you,” but my mum would never stay out of it. She wants to catch him as well, so she takes the car and goes after him. I decide to go with her.
We arrive at a dead end and see Kevin holding a gun in front of my father. I’m so scared. Even though I never met him, I don’t want to lose my dad again. My mum doesn’t seem scared. She is very focused on what she is about to do. She turns the headlights off and slowly gets closer. We are in the dark of night so Kevin doesn’t see the car approaching.
She carefully takes a gun from under the seat, she opens the window slowly, and takes one single, accurate shot to his heart. Kevin falls to the ground. He is dead.
My mum opens the door of the car and runs into my dad’s arms.
“I know you would have watched my back,” he tells her. “I’ve been missing you for all this years.”
She gazes at him and kisses him. “I missed you too, Mike.”
In this one week, I learnt more about my life than I had in eleven years. It’s very awkward and so confusing but at least I know my real story. I finally know my story’s hidden part!
I would have loved staying here with my all family and my new real life but I suddenly can’t stop walking away
from my dad and my mum. I don’t know where I’m about to go. All I know is that I’m walking away from this world; I’m dying. I will no longer be a ghost.
A voice inside my head says, “We are linked to the person who gave us life, in the same way we are linked to the person who took our life away from us. The one who made an injury to you is dead, so you can go and Rest In Peace now.”
Suddenly I feel relieved. I know I’m going to a better place, and my mum won’t be alone.