None of her friends knew anything. “It’s always the last person you expect,” one of then said and then immediately apologized. There was a lot of that. Apologizing. As if it was their fault that Helen killed herself. As if, since they couldn’t think of a proper reason, they thought she must have committed suicide just because of them.
It’s not the person you least expect. It’s the person you never think of, the person who never enters your mind. If you really looked at them, you would see it, that despair, that look in their eyes. But Helen wasn’t like that. I had dark days; Helen had hope. She always had hope.
I broke into her apartment. I went through her stuff. Her books, her DVD collection, even her goddamn bathroom. In a notebook, I found this drawn in the margins:
Below it, Helen had written: Et in Arcadia ego.
Does this mean she was thinking about death?
Before I was able to flip through the notebook some more, looking for more clues, I heard keys in the door, I heard the door creak. I hid. Was she here? Had she come back? Would I finally be able to talk to her again, ask her all those questions?
But no: when I glanced out, it wasn’t Helen. It was a man, mid-twenties, sandy brown hair. He was looking around. What was he doing here?
“What are you doing here?” I asked, stepping out from my hiding place in the kitchen. The man jumped and then put his hand to his heart.
“Sorry,” he said. “I was just…you look so much…are you Cassie? She told me about you.”
“Who the fuck are you?” I asked.
The young man took a deep breath. “My name is Harry Burton. I was Helen’s boyfriend.” She never mentioned a boyfriend. Was he telling the truth? How could I know?
“Prove it,” I asked. He took out his wallet and removed one of those picture triptychs you get from photograph machines at the mall. It was him and Helen. They were hugging in the first one, laughing in the second, kissing in the third.
“You want to know,” he said. “How she died.” It wasn’t a question, but a statement. “I want to know, too. Let me help. Please.”
I held the triptych in my hand. I looked at it. There she was in shades of color. “Fine,” I said, handing it back to Harry. “Fine.”
He could help. He could tell me other secrets she had. But when it was time, when I would see her again, it would just be me. Just me.