This is everything that scares me. The accident, and knowing there would be a lot of Tess in me. I only hope there’s a ray of light at the end of the story because even just the excerpt broke me.
If She Dies by Erik Therme released in February in the Psychological Thriller genre.
Nine months ago, Tess’s five-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident. The driver, Brady Becker, was sentenced to two years in prison. It didn’t make Tess’s pain go away.
Brady also has a daughter: A twelve-year-old named Eve who walks to Chandler Middle School every day. Tess knows this because she’s been watching Eve for the last three weeks. It isn’t fair that Brady’s daughter gets to live, while Tess’s daughter does not.
When Eve goes missing, all eyes turn to Tess, who doesn’t have an alibi. But Tess isn’t guilty.
Or so she believes.
I close my eyes and put a hand on the top of Lily’s headstone, trying to visualize the vibrant, living Lily inside my head who sang and danced around our living room with her favorite stuffed animal, Wapsie the Cat, pinned to her chest. I so want to see this Lily.
But I don’t.
I only see Lily’s unmoving body inside her tiny mahogany casket, six feet under the earth. If the embalmer did his job correctly, she would look relatively the same with the exception of dark spots on her cheeks and neck. In another few months, her skin will start to discolor and her fingernails will turn black. These are things I don’t want to know, but I do know. The internet is no one’s friend.
“I have to go, baby,” I say, rising from the ground. I bend forward to brush some grass clippings from my knees, then frown as I notice the grass on the other side of the headstone is discolored. No, not discolored . . . colored. As in, the tips of the grass are red, almost like a crimson shadow, and it only takes me a moment longer to realize it’s spray-paint. Growing up, my father was a spray-paint fanatic, painting everything from bicycle frames to bird feeders in our front yard, always leaving an overspray of paint mist. My mother hated it, even though it only lasted a few days until my father mowed. But the grass here is short, recently mowed, which means the paint on the ground is fresh.
I slowly circle the headstone, still unsure at what I’m seeing, until I reach the backside and my breath catches in my throat.
Someone has spray-painted Lily’s headstone with a bloody red X.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Erik Therme has thrashed in garage bands, inadvertently harbored runaways, and met Darth Vader. When he’s not at his computer, he can be found cheering on his youngest daughter’s volleyball team, or watching horror movies with his oldest. He currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa—one of only twenty-eight places in the world that UNESCO has certified as a City of Literature.
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