Chapter no 59 – DAWN

The Coworker

THE AVERAGE HUMAN lifespan is under 80 years. But a lot of turtles live longer than that. Sea turtles especially can live to be 150 years older. Some large turtles can live over 400 years, in theory.

I can’t imagine anyone wanting to live 400 years. I’ve lived thirty years, and it has been utterly exhausting. I’m done. I have experienced everything I need or want to experience. I have had true friendship, even though it didn’t last as long as I would’ve liked. I have had an enjoyable career. I have been in love, until the man I loved betrayed me with another woman. Although to be fair, I did ask him to do it.

Mia once told me she thought she was going to live to be eighty-seven years old. I don’t know how she came up with that number, but she liked to be very specific about things. She told me she was going to move to the Pacific coast and have three children and eight grandchildren. She also had a list of places she wanted to visit before she died. It was a long list.

We’ll go together, Dawn, she used to say. We’ll travel the world, just the two of us. Okay?

The idea of traveling the world was terrifying to me—all those new places and things. I don’t do well with novel experiences. What if you go to a new country, and they can’t serve you food that’s all one color? What if I

went into a restaurant and ordered a dish without knowing what it was because I didn’t speak the language, and then it turned out I was eating a turtle?

Yet the idea of traveling with Mia was exciting. I wouldn’t have been scared to be in a new place if she was with me. She would make sure we would have a good time and that I would feel safe. She always did.

Now that she’s gone, the world seems terrifying. I don’t want to leave Massachusetts. The idea of being pregnant and having a baby growing inside me is frightening to me. I don’t like to travel either. If I can’t experience these things with Mia, I don’t want to experience them at all. I thought there was a chance I could do those things with Caleb someday, but unfortunately, that didn’t work out like I thought it would.

I have experienced everything I care to experience. The best parts of my life are over. So there’s no reason to keep going.

And I’m going to make sure my death counts.

I borrowed a small cinderblock from a construction site nearby. I took the smallest one I could find, which should be more than heavy enough to hold me underwater. It weighs around thirty pounds. I bought some cord at a drugstore with the cash I took from Caleb’s wallet. I’ve tied one end to my ankle and the other to the cinderblock.

I’ve been watching the tide come in for the last hour. When the water gets high enough, I’m going to jump with the cinderblock. Nobody is in the water in the middle of November, so there’s an excellent chance I won’t be found for at least a few weeks. The appearance of my corpse will be the final nail in Natalie’s coffin. She will spend the rest of her life in prison.

We did it, Mia. We’re finally going to make her pay.

I wonder if she would have done the same for me. Mia and I defended each other, but I always defended her more vehemently than she defended me. Like that time in third grade when I pushed that boy Jared Kelahan off the top of the monkey bars because he wouldn’t quit teasing her. I remember sitting at the top of the monkey bars, staring at Jared on the ground, watching the pool of blood forming around his head as one of the teachers at the playground started screaming. Mia told me I went too far that time—she sounded a lot like Caleb does sometimes now. But the fact is, Jared never made fun of her again. Actually, he never made fun of anyone ever again.

As the water levels rise, I wonder what Caleb is doing right now. I left him a message, mostly to make sure he knew how to take care of Junior, but he’s smart. He may have figured out from the message what I was planning to do to myself—he’s probably panicked right now. But he’ll come to realize this was for the best. If not now, someday.

The waves crash against the beach. Over and over. It almost sounds like the water is calling my name. It’s ready for me. Dawn, Dawn, Dawn…

It’s time to jump. “Dawn!”

Okay, that sounded a bit too much like my name.

I whip my head around. For a second, I am blinded by a flash of light. I shield my eyes, and I realize that it’s a phone flashlight. Somebody is standing on the other end of the pier.


I scramble to my feet. I squint into the mist and can barely make out a figure walking toward me. At first, their face is in the shadows, but it’s not Caleb. Wrong build. It looks like a woman, and the voice is female.


She takes another step forward, and her facial features become clear.

My stomach turns.

It’s Natalie.

What is she doing here?

She shuts off the flashlight on her phone. She sticks her hands up in the air like I’ve got a gun. If only. If I had a gun right now, she would be dead. And there would be no witnesses.

I thought about that. I considered a simpler plan. Kill Natalie. Then I wouldn’t have to fake my own death and go on the run. Except death is too easy for her. I wanted her to suffer the way I have suffered. The way Mia suffered before she decided to end it all.

“Please don’t jump.” Natalie’s eyes flicker down to the cinderblock at my feet. “Please don’t do this.”

“Don’t tell me what to do.” I clench my teeth. “How did you find me here?”

“Caleb told me what was going on.”

If I wasn’t angry before, I’m furious now. How could he? How could he go to her after all we went through to frame her? Why couldn’t he just let this happen? “He had no right.”

“I’m glad he told me.” The wind whips at Natalie’s face, and she picks strands of blond hair out of her eyes. “I had no idea you knew Amelia.”

I hate the sound of my best friend’s name on this woman’s lips. “Knew her? She was my best friend. My only friend.”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“You killed her! You and your buddy Tara tormented her until she slit her wrists!”

Natalie flinches. “I know. And I’m so sorry. All I can say is that I was only seventeen years old. I didn’t know better.”

“No, I don’t accept that. Seventeen is old enough to know better.”

She takes a step toward me and I take a step back. Although I need to be careful about that—I don’t want to fall yet. “Listen to me,” she says. “You hate me, but don’t you think I feel terrible about what happened to Amelia? I do. Of course I do. Every single day since then, I have blamed myself. Why do you think I started this charity run? I’ve been trying to make it up to her.”

“Too late.”

We stare at each other for a moment. I’m wearing just a light jacket that belonged to Caleb, and I’m shivering in it. We didn’t want to risk taking any of my own coats out of the house. The sleeves are far too long on me. I rolled them up, but they’re still almost down to my fingertips.

“Look,” Natalie says, “I know everything. Seth does too. If you jump, it won’t do any good. You can’t frame me for murder anymore.”

It’s the first thing she’s said that’s gotten through to me. She’s right. If Caleb blabbed about our plan, she’ll never go to prison for this. He has ruined everything. Everything we worked for. How could he do this to me? He couldn’t possibly love me if he would betray me this way.

Natalie knows who I am now. She’s ready for me. I had a chance to get revenge, and Caleb blew it. I wanted to make Natalie pay for what she did to Mia, but it’s not going to happen. There’s only one way left to make her pay.

I have to kill her. Caleb would never let me do it, but he’s not here right now. He can’t stop me. I have to end this.

Right here. Right now.

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