Graduation Night, continued...

Roger woke up in the morning before his alarm clock went off. He stared up at the ceiling, trying to ignore the growing uneasiness he was feeling. He had felt like shit for the last two weeks, sleeping irregularly, unable to concentrate at work. And now that Adam was out of the hospital, he was certain it was only a matter of time before he got locked up like he deserved. He was surprised it hadn’t happened already.

Roger rolled over in bed to look at Joy. In only a few more months, she was supposed to become his wife. What would happen to their relationship if she found out the things he had done? What if he went to jail? Would their love endure?

If Joy ever left him, Roger thought he really might try to kill himself. They hadn’t been together very long, but it was long enough for him to know she meant the world to him. She was everything he had ever dreamed about in a woman.

Before Joy, Roger had believed he would never find a woman to love him. He got rejected so often, it seemed like there was no point in even trying anymore. When he managed to get a date with a woman, he noticed she would seem completely disinterested during the date, often looking around the room for something else to hold her attention. As effortlessly as Adam managed to attract women, Roger was the exact opposite.

On one occasion a number of years ago, Roger managed to corner a woman from work named Laura who he had been out on one date with and was now avoiding him. What’s going on here? he had asked her. What did I do wrong?

Laura had looked him in the eyes and told him the honest truth. You’re very irritating. I just don’t like you.

Laura’s words had stung. Roger had nearly been in tears the rest of the day. What could he do to make himself more desirable to women? Or just to one woman? He had no answer to that question.

Roger might have gone into a deep depression if Joy hadn’t come along. Finally, a woman found him attractive. A woman loved him, after all these years. He would have done anything to keep that.

But maybe it wasn’t possible anymore.

Joy’s eyes fluttered open. She yawned and stretched. “What time is it?” she asked.

“You don’t have to get up yet,” Roger told her.

Joy rubbed her eyes and sat up in bed. “It’s okay. I’ll fix you some breakfast.”

“No, I...” Roger bit his lip. “Joy honey, I... I just wanted to let you know I’ve got a meeting late today. I’m not sure what time I’ll be home.” He couldn’t tell her he was getting together with Brynne.

Joy frowned at him. “Didn’t I tell you that your friend Adam is coming over tonight?”

Roger nearly choked. “Adam... is coming over tonight?”

“Yes, he called me yesterday,” Joy yawned. “He said he had something important to discuss with us.”

“With... us?” Roger’s head was spinning. Adam was coming over. That probably meant... he planned to tell Joy everything. At the very least, tell her about the car accident. Possibly tell her that Roger was the one who put him in the hospital.

“Roger, what’s going on?” Joy asked, a worried expression on her pretty face.

She was going to find out. There was nothing he could do to stop this anymore. And it was better she heard it from him than from someone else. “Joy, there’s something I need to tell you...”

“You know you can tell me anything,” Joy said, gazing into his eyes.

Roger swallowed. This was going to be really hard. “Joy, you should know that... something happened to me in my past. Something that... I didn’t want to take the blame for back then, but now I... I have to own up to it.”

Joy looked at him quizzically.

“Remember that accident the police called about?” Roger asked. She nodded. “The thing about it is... that was the accident where Adam became paralyzed. And he went on trial for manslaughter.”

Joy’s eyes widened. “But Adam told me...”

“He lied,” Roger said. “And... that wasn’t the first time he lied about it. See, the thing is, he wasn’t the one driving. I was. But because of his injury, we knew he wouldn’t serve time, so he lied for me and said that he was the driver. But I was the driver.” Roger buried his face in his hands. “I killed someone, Joy. I took a woman’s life...”

“Oh my god,” Joy breathed. “I... I can’t believe this...”

“I know,” Roger sobbed. “I’m so sorry I lied to you...”

“No, I mean, I can’t believe that you actually confessed this to me,” Joy said.

Roger wiped his eyes. “What?”

Joy handed him a tissue off the night table. “I didn’t think it would be this easy to get you to confess. I never thought you’d do it on your own.”

The words coming out of Joy’s mouth were strange, but not as strange as her tone of voice. She spoke calmly, in an even, businesslike voice, not the voice of a woman who had just been told the man she was marrying was a murderer. He had never heard her speak like this before. “I don’t understand,” Roger said. “Are you saying... you already knew about this?”

“Of course I did,” Joy replied in that same calm voice. “Who do you think has been sending Adam those letters?”

All of a sudden, Roger was having a lot of trouble breathing. He felt very dizzy. “You’re the one who’s been threatening Adam?”

Joy nodded slowly.

“But... why?”

Joy reached over to the night table and pulled something out of the top drawer. It took Roger a second to realize that it was a gun. “Because you murdered my sister, you fucking son of a bitch,” she hissed.

Before Roger could react, the gun went off and the shot fired went directly into his chest.

To be continued...