He didn’t look anything like she expected. She stood there, frozen, staring at him as if he were a revenant, returned from the dead. In fact, he looked rather like……..but, no. All this morning, she had been positively agog, because a child her age was coming over to her house. But now…
“Margaret!” Her mother scolded as she bustled to the door and saw the guests standing there, “do let them in, or shall I have to do it for you?” Gently nudging Margaret out of the way, she gestured for the guests to come in. A boy, Margaret’s age, entered the foyer. His hair was black and his eyes a very dark, very unusual blue. He wore black jeans, a graphic tee, and a dinner jacket. He smiled politely at Margaret as he walked in.
After him was a large man, with many wrinkles and a rotund stomach bulging in his black suit.
“Very nice place you’ve got here,” he boomed, his jowls quivering.
“Pleasure to meet you,” said the slightly less large woman amicably. She had long, golden curls framing her doughy, pleasant face. She wore a midnight blue dress, one very similar to the color of her son’s eyes. She took Mrs. Goldberg by the hand and shook it enthusiastically.
“But the pleasure is all mine,” replied Margaret’s mother. “I do hope you enjoy your little sojourn here. Henry has told me all about you! I simply cannot wait to get to know you. Would you deign to join us in the dining room?” She led the guest towards the direction of the dining room. Catching Margaret out of the corner of her eye, she said warningly, “Margaret, dear, go get into your dinner clothes.”
Margaret watched the guest disappear into the dining room, then turned on her heels and raced up the grand marble staircase, holding onto the lacquered railing. She racing down the hallway and pulled open one of the heavy wooden door to her bedroom, letting it close behind her. Her room was a big room, with a queen bed, glass French doors leading to a balcony, an extremely large walk- in closet and a 42′ TV. She walked over to her bed and flopped down, trying to figure out what it was that had thrown her off.
His eyes, she decided, it was his eyes that were so unnerving. That dark, clear, striking blue color just wasn’t natural.
“Margaret!” Her mother’s voice rang up the stairs solicitously. “Do hurry!’
Margaret opened her closet, and walked over to the hanger that held her dress. Her dress was a soft purple. The skirt was light and floaty with layers and the top was strapless. She quickly slid it on and pinned up her curly red hair into a loose ponytail.
She quickly ran down the stairs best she could, seeing she was wearing heels. Skidding to a stop, she quickly composed herself before entering the dining room.
“……but no matter, he was an usurping bastard anyway,” the large man was saying loudly, “that’s what I said, he took that job right from Ted, so I didn’t feel bad firing him at all, isn’t that how it goes?” He laughed a short, booming laugh, then took another gulp of his wine.
“Yes, dear,” said his wife, gently removing the glass from his hands and setting it on the table. “Oh,” she exclaimed, seeing Margaret, “you must be Melinda’s daughter.”
“Oh yes!” Margaret’s mother said, twisting around and pulling Margaret towards a chair, “this is my daughter Margaret.”
“Very nice to meet you,” the lady extended her hand across the table, “I’m Mrs. Anders and this is my husband, and my son, David.”
“Nice to meet you too,” Margaret took her hand, and was surprised to find it very cold. She opened her mouth to say something, but was interrupted by her mother, who shot a warning glance at Margaret.
“Have I told you that you look absolutely lovely this evening, Rachel?” She asked sycophantically.
“Why thank you,” Mrs. Anders replied, a fake pleasantly surprised look on her face. “You, however, look amazing. Where in the world did you buy that dress?”
“Oh, stop,” Margaret’s mother, replied with a tinkling laugh. “Well, actually, I made this myself………”
The conversation was like this for the first half of dinner; two sycophants trying to out – compliment each other. Margaret picked at the fancy food, bored out of her mind.
“Mother, ” she asked subserviently, wanting to get out of there, “shall I go get more rolls from the kitchen?”
“What? Oh, well all right.”
Margaret hopped up, and quickly walked to the kitchen. It had begun to rain outside. She made her way through the shining countertops to the window, where she watched raindrop slap the window and blur the outside world. She hated the rain. It made her think of drowning.
“Conversation boring you?” The voice, though soft, startled Margaret and she whirled around to see the boy standing in front of the kitchen door, looking at her.
“Yes,” she responded cautiously, “Quite.”
“Me too. Thought I’d come see if you needed any help.” He sat on one of the island stools.
“No, no thank you. I just came to fetch the rolls.”
He raised an eyebrow at the palpable lie; there wasn’t a basket of rolls in sight. However, he said nothing. He stood up and walked up to Margaret. She sucked in her breath, but he merely passed her and stood by the window.
“The rain is mesmerizing, isn’t it?” He said, gazing out the window.
“I suppose.” Margaret said, acting as if it was a risible thought.
“You don’t like me.” He said it as a statement, not a question. He turned to look at Margaret, waiting for a response.
“I don’t know you.”
“It’s my eyes, isn’t it?”
“I beg your pardon?” Margaret was breathing hard, trying to remain calm.
“You recognize them, don’t you?” He took a step closer to her. She tried to back up, but found herself pressed against the kitchen counter.
“No,” she said, unwilling to accept the shocking revelation, “no, I don’t- ”
“Yes you do,” he said, “don’t lie, Margaret. Haven’t you lied enough already?”
“No,” she said, “no – it can’t be -”
“But it is,” he said, staring intensely into her eyes. “I am.”
“No,” Margaret whispered.
“Yes,” he said with a bitter happiness, “I am Peter.”
“No!” Margaret screamed a little at the name, “no, Peter is – he’s, he’s dead.”
“That what you wish, isn’t it!” His eyes blazed with wild anger as he took a step towards her. “You tried to kill me.”
“No! No, I didn’t! Please, Peter no! I never- I could never – I never wanted – how?” She breathed out the last word, terrified, unable to look away from those eyes.
“That night,” he started, taking deep breaths to calm himself, “we were on the bridge -”
“Stop,” Margaret whispered-begged, transfixed, yet horrified.
“I liked you,” he continued, “I never had many friends. I was odd, an outcast. Different.” He spat out the word, as if trying to get rid of a bad taste in his mouth. “But you- you were different too. You actually talked to me. I thought you were – my friend. But then, that night. We were standing on the bridge. I turned around -” he choked on his words, for a moment, unable to finish. “I – I turned around just in time to see you push me off the bridge.”
Margaret remembered that night two years ago, though she tried to forget. It returned every night in her nightmares, haunting her. She and Peter had been on the bridge, throwing stones and talking about things. It was getting late.
“Peter,” Margaret asked, “what are your parents like?” Peter stood, motionless, his back towards her, leaning against the rail, staring into the rushing river below.
“I don’t know.”
“How can you not know?”
“How can I know? I don’t talk to them.” Peter’s tone was sharp and hurtful. Margaret knew she had asked something that really bothered him.
“I’m sorry, Peter. Never mind. Forget I said anything.” When he still didn’t turn around, Margaret decided she should go. She took a few steps toward Peter, to tell him she had to go. Peter turned around. His eyes, normally light blue, were a deep, unnatural, midnight blue. They flashed out at Margaret. She screamed and involuntarily thrust her arms out in front of her. Her hands hit his chest and she watched, in slow – motion as he tumbled over the railing and into the rushing river below.
Only after his head had disappeared into the water and didn’t resurface, did Margaret realize what she had done. Panicked, she ran back home. Her parents never knew about Peter and his parents had never met her. No one would ever know. Except for her.
“I thought you were dead,” she drew herself away from the memory.
“I thought I was too,” he said in a bitter voice, now standing so close to Margaret, “but I woke up, washed up on the shore, God knows where. But I did it. I found a family to take me in, and a rich one at that. I knew they would have connections with your family, every rich family in the state does. And I found you.”
“Peter, please, think about what you are doing. Murder – it’s, it’s illegal -”
“You’re one to talk.” He took a truncated breath, cut short as he saw a tear slide down Margaret’s face. “You tried to kill me.”
“No, no, Peter, I didn’t.” She spoke in a wavering voice.
“You pushed me off a bridge.”
“Yes, yes, I did that,” Margaret began to sob, burying her face in her hands. Peter stood there, not sure what to do. He almost felt like comforting her, but he was too enraged to do so.
“Peter, I’m – I’m so sorry,” Margaret said, forcing herself to look up into his eyes. “It was an accident, I never – I never meant too – I thought I killed you. I couldn’t sleep – for weeks, months – I still can’t. Nightmares – all the time……..I’m so glad you’re not dead, I never – I never wanted to – to kill you – Oh, Peter, I’m so sorry,” she said, tears streaming down her cheeks. Peter stood there, hesitating, his expression unreadable. Thoughts seemed to be racing through his head, but then he took a breath and reached out his arms.
“It’s ok,” He put his arms around her, “please don’t cry. It’s all right now, I – I’m not angry, I’m alive, it’s going to be ok.” He stroked her hair and leaned back to wipe away the tears from her face.
Just then, the kitchen door burst open to reveal a very shocked Mrs. Goldberg.
“Margaret?” She asked, startled. “What – what is -?”
“Mother,” said Margaret, extracting herself from Peter’s arms, “meet Peter.”