chapter 18


Tampered with.


With. Tampered with.

I sat on my bed with my head in my hands. What the hell did that mean? Tampered with? Someone—who? Tampered with her car. I tried the expression again. Tampered with. I said it out loud.

“Tampered with.”

Gretchen looked up from her book momentarily, and then dismissed me with a frown.

I couldn’t sit still. I was frantic, so I got up, took my key, and left.

The night air was damp and cool. I said a silent thank you for the darkness to whom or whatever might be listening. And then I started to walk without paying any attention to where I was going. There were street lights lighting all of the campus walkways, but there weren’t any other students around. Just empty walkways lit against the dark.

The night was still. No wind. No sense. I had no sense. It made no sense and I had no sense. Did someone want to hurt Eva or had it all been a horrible accident? Worse still, had it been an accident that my father had inadvertently caused? “Uuuh…” I groaned, looking up to the trees. A breeze moved through them, seeming to answer me, whisper something. I listened, trying to make out what they were saying. But it wasn’t clear to me. Beyond the trees were clouds that blanketed the sky, purple from the lights of the town.

“Why?” I cried out loud. “Why Eva?”

The trees were silent. The clouds seemed to absorb my question. Warm tears started again and I made no effort to stop them.

Earlier on the phone, Mom had been at a loss to deal with me.

“Mom, what does Dad mean, tampered with?” I had asked earlier when she came back on the line.

“Well, we’re not sure exactly, but it seems like someone might have actually loosened the lug nuts on her wheels.”

“Why? That’s impossible. It’s crazy,” I said, grappling with the news.

“Oh, honey, I know…”

“That’s insane. What reason could anyone possibly have to hurt Eva?”

A sigh. “Honey, I know it sounds crazy. Maybe Travis will be able to turn something else up. We’ll keep you posted.” 

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