CARTER LAKE by Carla Mercado

“Oh my gosh, Lindsey?”

Lindsey Sutton craned her neck over the crowd at the bar to see who had called out to her and nearly choked on her drink.

Melissa Sanchez. Lindsey hadn’t seen her since high school. She’d been hoping she would never see her again.

Melissa pushed her way through women in sequined tops and beefy, red-faced guys. It was ladies’ night. The bar was twice as packed with girls looking for cheap drinks and men looking for cheap girls. Lindsey started mentally reviewing her list of excuses to go home early: an exam, a doctor’s appointment, an early morning weight training class…

“Isn’t this, like, so crazy? My first night back in town and I run right into a familiar face,” Melissa cried. She threw her arms around her and squealed, bouncing on the balls of her feet. “How have you been? Hold on, let me get a drink and you can tell me everything.”

Lindsey slid off her stool. “Actually, I was just about to leave–”

“Do you live on campus? I can walk back with you.” Melissa held her at arms’ length. “Gets dark early this time of year. We girls need to stick together, you know?”

Lindsey smiled to hide her discomfort. “Right.”

They walked out of the bar together. Melissa immediately hooked her arm through Lindsey’s and took a deep breath. “Don’t you just love autumn? I get so nostalgic. It always reminds me of soccer season.” She leaned too hard on Lindsey’s side, nearly tripping her. “You and me, Diedre and Heejin and all the other girls. We had so much fun together.”

Lindsey went cold. She lowered her voice. “What the hell do you want from me?”

From you?” Melissa laughed out loud. “I’m just here to reminisce.” She gasped, her eyes growing exaggeratedly wide. “Remember the time we all went skinny dipping in Carter Lake?”

Lindsey tried to yank her arm from Melissa’s, but she wouldn’t let go.

“Remember how you guys thought it would be hilarious if you ran off with my clothes and left me in that cold, dark lake?” Melissa asked. “Remember how I got hypothermia and almost died because I was too scared to come out of the water naked? And when the police asked you if you were there with me like I said you were, you said I must have hallucinated the whole thing?”

“Let go of me,” Lindsey snapped.

“Remember how for the rest of the school year everyone called me Loony Lissa and no one wanted to talk to me because they thought I was, like, unhinged?” She let out a scream of laughter. “Wasn’t that just the best?

Lindsey ripped her arm from Melissa’s and ran for the university’s entrance.

She didn’t see the car coming down the road.

A horn blared. Tires screeched. A loud impact, followed by the crunch of glass, made bystanders cry out in horror.

Melissa Sanchez stood swaying on the sidewalk, a serene smile plastered to her face, glad that she hadn’t had to push Lindsey into the road herself. Then she turned, pulled her cell phone out of her back pocket, opened her contacts list, and started walking. “Let’s see, who’s next?”

Carla Mercado lives in the Texas Hill Country, where she emotionally distresses her online readers from the comfort of her home. She is working on her first novel.

Copyright © 2017 Carla Mercado. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited.

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